“Coming second all the time” Life in Lockdown for Siblings of Disabled Children

Sibs Life in Lockdown Report

Sibs supports siblings who have a brother or sister with a disability, SEND or long-term health condition.

In May 2020, they surveyed 876 parents to learn more about how siblings of disabled children are experiencing lockdown.

They found that:

  • 75% of parents said their sibling child’s mental health had worsened.
  • 50% of siblings are providing more care in lockdown.
  • 1 in 3 siblings feel isolated and miss support from family and friends.

Dr Georgia Pavlopoulou University College London Researcher and Sibs’ Trustee, said:

Growing up with a disabled brother or sister brings unique joys and challenges. The sibling relationship is the least-studied familial relationship before and during the lockdown.

This survey shows the huge amounts of labour of love and the great deal of time that siblings dedicate to assist their disabled brother or sister. Most importantly the survey highlights the lack of support for struggles that they face such as loneliness and lack of respite time.

ACT Safeguarding Young People lead Sarah Goff said:

The Sibs report shines a vital spotlight on how lockdown is stressful for the whole family when they’re caring without the usual support services. Unconsciously or not, parents and carers often prioritise their disabled children’s needs. We often fail to see how these situations impact their brothers and sisters.

Brothers and sisters might have to deal with isolation and physical harm. Perhaps before lockdown, when services were in place, more positive experiences shone out. But this report demonstrates what we need to be doing as local authorities and support services. It also makes a vital case that many of these sisters and brothers should be able to return to school.

We must also remember to proactively offer additional help and support to the BAME families affected with greater risks of Covid-19, in addition to these areas highlighted by this report.

You can read the report in full here.