Not all disabilities are visible – some are not immediately obvious, such as learning difficulties, mental health challenges and Dementia, as well as mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments. Living with a hidden disability can make daily life more demanding for many people, but it can be difficult for others to recognise, acknowledge or understand the challenges people face.
This is even harder during the current pandemic – understanding the need to social distance and follow new rules such as queuing outside shops can be really challenging.
In order to support individuals, the '2 Steps' scheme launched to help identify people who might struggle to understand and follow the rules. This scheme has been developed in partnership with self-advocates, with the support of Warrington Speak Up.
‘2 Steps’ has been used to help people understand they need to keep a safe distance from others at all times, but it will still be challenging. To support tolerance and understanding from the public and staff in shops and businesses, a wristband scheme has been introduced, where people with additional needs or hidden disabilities can choose to wear a ‘2 Steps’ wristband to show they may need some additional help or consideration from others.
You can pick up a FREE wristband from the customer service desk in Golden Square (next to Starbucks), or PJ’s Jewellers on the ground floor in Warrington Market.
What can you do to help?
Step 1 – If you see someone who isn't following the rules, please keep in mind that they may be finding it difficult. Be considerate and do what you can to help by creating more space, for example by taking 2 steps away. One of the most important things you can do is to be kind.
Step 2 – Tell people about this scheme so that more people can be understanding and considerate.
Cllr Rebecca Knowles, cabinet member for statutory health and adult social care, said: “Living with a hidden disability can be challenging, even under normal circumstances, but now with the addition of having additional rules to follow it has been made even more difficult.
“We all need to ensure that we are respectful and understanding to those people who may not fully understand the rules. Wearing the ‘2 Steps’ wristband indicates to other people that you may need additional support, help or a little more time when out and about in our town.
“The coronavirus pandemic has brought communities together and people have shown true compassion and support for others. I would ask that we all continue to be mindful of the people around us, acknowledging that some people may need our help, or simply just more space and understanding when going about their daily tasks.”
Warrington Speak Up’s self-advocacy group helped to design the logo for the project. They said: “The council got in touch and asked us for our ideas and we agreed that it’s very hard to get social distancing right. We thought that wristbands were a good idea and we hope they help everyone to feel more confident about getting out and about safely.
“Once we have spread the word, hopefully people will understand that the rules are very hard for some people and we all need to be kind. We can all help each other to get through this if we remember to be respectful.”
If you, a friend or family member have a hidden disability, or would find the rules hard for any reason and would like a wristband, please visit warrington.gov.uk/2steps, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01925 248 472 for more information.