A new initiative to help disabled people and individuals with hidden impairments navigate the complexities of social distancing is being launched by Euan’s Guide.
Ahead of the compulsory ruling in place from Friday, July 24, the charity is providing free ‘face mask exempt’ badges to help people who cannot wear a face covering to get out and travel without harassment.
Figures from Disability Rights UK showed that nearly 60% of people who cannot wear a face covering fear being challenged for not wearing one.
The research showed that the same amount of people felt they lacked the confidence to stand up for themselves if they were challenged for not wearing a face covering.
Face masks now must be worn on public transport in England and Scotland and while both Governments have released a list of individuals who are exempt from this requirement, it is not stopping people from commenting and judging individuals who are not wearing a mask.
People’s reasons for being exempt may not be obvious at first glance so the badge has been designed to stand out and quickly alert others that there is a reason why the individual is not wearing a mask.
The idea behind the badge came from Euan’s Guide users who were sharing their concerns of how they would be treated for going places without a mask.
The badge is designed to make the wearer feel more comfortable visiting places where the majority of people will be wearing face covering.
Paul Ralph, access & inclusion director at Euan’s Guide, said: “People are often quick to judge, which can make it intimidating to travel when you are going against the majority and seemingly ‘violating’ the rules.
“Individual reasons for not wearing face masks are not always obvious, which is why we’ve created these badges so that the wearer feels more confident to travel and to ensure that everyone knows that some people are exempt from the face covering rule in England and Scotland.”
The charity has a limited number of badges to give out initially free of charge and hopes to be able to produce and distribute more badges with the support of donations.