Free badges and lanyards will be available to people who wish to show others they would welcome additional space and extra care while out in public.
The Distance Aware scheme is a voluntary initiative to help those on the Highest Risk List or anyone who feels worried about mixing with others as we adapt to living with COVID-19.
The Scottish Government has joined the scheme set up by the Bevan Commission and adapted it following research which showed that almost three quarters (73%) of people on the Highest Risk List said they would like to signal to others to give them extra space.
From 26 January, the badges and lanyards with the easily-recognisable shield symbol will be available free from all community and mobile libraries in Scotland. Badges will also be free from Asda stores. They can be ordered from the Scottish Government website for a small postal fee.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“We are beginning to adapt to living with COVID-19 but we know that, for some people who have been at higher risk or feel anxious about going out in public, this is a big step.
“This scheme not only provides vital reassurance to anyone who chooses to wear a badge or lanyard, but also encourages us all to be more aware and considerate of those around us – as we simply don’t know their circumstances or concerns.
“I hope this will help people feel more confident and comfortable to go about their daily lives. The shield symbol can be worn by anyone.”
British Red Cross Scotland Director of Independent Living and Crisis Response Marie Hayes said:
“We fully support the aims of the Distance Aware campaign and will be proud to highlight the scheme to callers contacting our Connecting With You service. Many people are experiencing loneliness, and are fearful of going out of their own homes as a result of the pandemic.
“We believe Distance Aware can help overcome this and help them to re-engage with social activities. This could be invaluable in helping to tackle loneliness.”
Asda Senior Director for Scotland Brian Boyle said:
“We are delighted to work with the Scottish Government to implement this scheme in Scotland. There has been interest in the free Distance Aware badges, particularly from our more vulnerable customers.
“As people become aware of the badge and its meaning, the more effective it will be in helping people to feel safer and less worried when they are out and about.”
Distance Aware was developed by Wales’ health and care think tank The Bevan Commission in August 2020. The Scottish Government has invested £55,500 in procuring and distributing badges, lanyards and promoting the scheme.
The Scottish Government is asking organisations, businesses and employers to promote this to their staff, customers and members. A toolkit is available to provide further support and information.
Fiind details of the Distance Aware scheme at www.gov.scot/distanceaware.
Some charities are also offering the badges and lanyards to order at a small charge – more details on The Bevan Commission website.