Coronation Street is to shine a light on the plight of disabled workers during the pandemic with a new storyline.
The ITV soap is to highlight the plight faced by millions of disabled people during the pandemic and the pressures they are under through trying to work remotely whilst shielding.
The episodes will focus on Izzy Armstrong, played by Cherylee Houston, and her job at the Underworld factory.
ITV share: "Viewers have already seen Underworld bosses Carla Connor and Sarah Barlow come up with a scheme to help Izzy work from home. However, behind the scenes Izzy has been struggling to keep up with the workload and things come to a head next week.
"For the first time since the pandemic we will see Izzy in her home environment in scenes filmed by Cherylee Houston and her partner Toby Hadoke at their Manchester home. Actor Toby has joined the cast as Izzy’s concerned neighbour Fergus.
a new survey revealing how disabled workers felt that their disability or shielding status meant they were treated unfairly, and worse than other colleagues during the pandemic.
The show’s writers and producers have collaborated with Cherylee for many months on the storyline.
Cherylee herself has been shielding since last March and is relishing the opportunity to be able to work from home in a mixture of video link scenes and specially shot moments between Izzy and Fergus.
Cherylee said: “I have been unbelievably fortunate that my employers enabled me to continue shielding after the official shielding guidance ended in March.
"I’ve been so supported by ITV, but I’m aware that many of my disabled peers who were previously shielding haven’t had that safety and have been forced to make the decision to earn money to survive whilst facing the real fear of death or serious illness through Covid.
“There’s 14.1 million people in the UK, that’s 1 in 5 of us. We are employees, carers, front line workers, volunteers and a key part of every community. The pandemic has had an incredible impact on many disabled people due to social isolation, certain services being unavailable and a lack of understanding.
“There’s currently 4.4 million disabled workers in the UK. We experience almost double the unemployment statistics compared to our non disabled peers (mostly due to prejudice or lack of reasonable adjustments).”
Coronation Street Producer Iain MacLeod added: “We had to think outside the box in order to tell this story, devising new protocols and ways of scripting scenes that would allow Cherylee to film the scenes herself in her home.
"It certainly helped that her partner Toby is a fabulous actor! Despite all the technical challenges we had to overcome, this was a story that needed telling and I hope it will resonate with millions of people who have found themselves in a similar position to Izzy - and perhaps open the eyes of millions of others who had little awareness of the issues facing disabled people during COVID.”