Mythbusting PEEPs #2: “Disabled people prefer to stay put”

Says who?

This is, in fact, a classic example of institutions and non-disabled experts putting words in our mouths in order to make their advice and policies more palatable. It’s pretty bad to leave us behind when a fire is considered so dangerous that everyone is told to get out.

Let’s not fluff this up to make it look like our ‘choice’. It’s not a choice if we aren’t allowed to make an informed decision.

Disabled people are routinely advised that it’s our ‘safest’ option. Most of us do not question it, particularly if we are told this by people we trust such as our local fire service.

A wheelchair user is sitting on her balcony looking out
Georgie on the balcony of her flat. She has no evacuation plan.

Everyone in our group has persistently asked for a PEEP but virtually no-one has got one. That’s why Georgie co-founded Claddag – to raise awareness of the ways in which disabled people have been forgotten. Her block in Manchester was recently changed from a ‘stay put’ policy to simultaneous evacuation. “Those of us who can’t do so weren’t even considered. I have been refused a PEEP countless times. We can evacuate with others with the right support and/or equipment. We are talking about risk to peoples’ lives here – it’s not something trivial. Would able bodied people accept this? I doubt it very much.”

The building safety crisis has shown that many of us have a false sense of security living in our flats. Nearly half of those that lost their lives in Grenfell Tower were disabled. We do not want to stay put when non-disabled people are told it’s not safe to do so.

Faces of those who lost their lives at Grenfell Tower - mixture of ages, genders and ethnicities
Almost half of those who died in Grenfell Tower were Disabled people and children

Until disabled people are talked through their options and given financial access to tools needed to facilitate their evacuation, then a ‘stay put’ plan is not an informed decision. It’s not a choice.

If you agree, please tell the Government in a response to its consultation by 19 July 2021.

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