VULNERABLE residents who have been shielding feel ‘forgotten about’ as life is soon to return to ‘normal’.

In Wales, those shielding no longer have to do so from August 16 and can be reunited with their loved ones after four months apart.

However, this has caused much unease and anxiety at the idea of suddenly being left to ‘fend for themselves’ and the support networked being stopped.

Members of the FDF CIL, formerly the Flintshire Disability Forum, held a meeting to discuss the future of the disability services in North Wales following the pandemic.

During the meeting, concerns were raised over the lack of diversity in terms of support but also the lack of communication throughout the lockdown.

Member Zoe Cooney said for the first time in four months she went outside on July 30 but did not feel safe.

She added: “I went out and thought I’d be okay because we were outside, but it was so scary, and I didn’t feel any better when I did it.

“It was nothing scary what we were doing, we only went for coffee but no-one behind the counter had masks on and although the tables were 2m apart it didn’t feel like that much space.

“It was also busy where we went. It’s terrifying that from August 16 you can go out and do all these things but it’s not as easy as that.

“I’m a confident person and so if it’s not easy for me, it’s not going to be easy for people who have confidence issues.

“People who have had support and food boxes delivered and then all of a sudden are expected to go out themselves, it will be horrendous.”

Jan Underwood said: “I’m not anywhere or near anything or touching anything.

“I go for my walk and go into the countryside and that’s all I’m doing. It’s not safe out there and there is going to be a second wave.”

Kate Howard, social prescriber for FLVC, said discussions were ongoing over a transition period either through Welsh Government or local authorities.

She said: “A lot of organisations have had to do things on the hoof, but people like to know what is going to happen, they like to plan.

“There are a lot of people that come August, can theoretically go out the way they did pre-covid but I don’t think a lot will. There’s a lot who are still very anxious to go out.”

Founder of the FDF Jan Thomas asked members whether the feelings of anxiety were intensified due to recent announcements in the news of increasing positive cases across Flintshire and Wrexham.

Concerns were also raised over the initial handling of the pandemic and support for those shielding.

Kate told members that the food delivery boxes helped a lot of people but they were all identical.

She added that there was no consideration over dietary needs or being vegetarian or having a gluten intolerance.

She said: “Flintshire supplemented that with WellFed which were mainly ready meals. The feedback we got from that was that they were mainly pasta meals which are quick and easy to put together but a lot of elderly residents don’t eat pasta, it’s not their thing.

“So, it wasn’t about looking at individual needs, it was what they will provide whether you like it or

Kate said the pandemic has highlighted just how many people are affected by some sort of disability and ‘struggle until it reaches crisis point’ but moving forward she would like to see the collaboration continue and communication continue so everyone can live ‘full and independent lives’.

Jan Thomas added that post-covid when volunteers go back to work and no longer have the ‘time or energy’ to continue the ‘excellent work’ they’ve been doing, will all disabled people need support or will they want to go back to independence?

Sandra Anderson from AVOW said the lack of communication has been a ‘nightmare’ for herself and autistic daughter, adding: “It’s causing anxiety.

“It’s really important we get the communication messages sorted out. August 16 is only a couple of weeks away and we still don’t know what’s happening.”

Mark Isherwood MS also attended the meeting and said it was ‘vital’ that government bodies and NHS trusts as well as businesses, the third sector and other service providers work co-productively with disabled people to identify problems and solutions and ‘make the most of opportunities to improve services’.

Anyone wishing to attend the next FDF meeting on September 3 at 2pm to discuss the de-escalation transition to the new normal, can contact

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The Chief Medical Officer for Wales has today written to the 130,000 people in Wales who are shielding explaining why people no longer need to take shielding measures from 16 August. The letter also provides details of the support which will continue to be available to this group.

“Wales is the last part of the UK to pause the shielding scheme and end state-funded food support. The food box scheme was introduced to address issues with the food supply nationwide at the start of the pandemic and provide access to essential food supplies when the supply chain was under considerable strain. Access to priority online shopping delivery slots, commercial food boxes and volunteer-supported shopping has improved and we have been reassured supermarkets will continue to make priority slots available to those on the shielded list.

“If people don’t have family, friends or neighbours who can help them, they should contact their local authority or county voluntary council if they need practical support.”