Many people in the muscular dystrophy community are very anxious about leaving their homes after this Saturday (August 1,) the date when the government has paused shielding.
In recognition of this and in the absence of a national scheme to make the general public aware of people coming out of strict lockdown and the need to enforce social distancing, MDUK has made available four badge designs that people can use when going outside.
One of these uses the Bevan Commission’s ‘Distance Aware’ work in Wales. This is a simple yellow shield that emphasises the 2m social distance that needs to be followed.
The other three have been created by MDUK supporters. Two are specifically designed for children coming out of shielding, and the other is for adults.
Kieron Sales, whose son Alfie lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, is one of the designers. He hopes that when people see the badges on Saturday, and in weeks ahead, they will be made aware that some people who are out may be at high risk of Covid-19.
People who have been shielding still need to practice social distancing at two metres or more – as opposed to the one-metre-plus rule for others.
The general public have had almost a month of being back to some kind of normal, yet from this weekend we will have to make anxious decisions that are usually just an average everyday task.
Kieron has been asking if the Government should introduce a ‘shielding hour’ that works in a similar way to how key workers were allowed to shop alone to avoid the crowds.
I’m sure it would ease the anxiousness of being thrown back into society.
I think we will just have to take the baby-step approach. If we are to go to the shops then either myself or my wife Louise will go alone early in the morning or late in the evening. We can’t take the risk of letting either my daughter Mila-Rose or Alfie back into society too soon. We’re also gradually introducing our close family and friends back into our ‘bubble’ by having socially distanced chats in our garden.
The view from expert clinicians is that many (although not all) people with a diagnosed or undiagnosed neuromuscular condition fall into the official category of being “clinically extremely vulnerable” to COVID-19 and should practice strict social distancing now that shielding is paused.
Kate Adcock, Director of Research and Innovation at Muscular Dystrophy UK said:
Lockdown has been a stressful time for people like Kieron, Louise, Alfie and Mila-Rose. We hope these badges will give some reassurance to people who would like to start coming out of shielding but are nervous about doing so.
Everyone who has been shielding has had a different experience to the general public, and it’s vital this is recognised. We urge the Government to listen to people who have been shielding like Kieron, and to continue to work with charities like Muscular Dystrophy UK.
The use of these badges is entirely optional. You can download the PDF to print off to put in a lanyard case, or an A4 size if you want to attach it somewhere like a wheelchair.