Please give me space is a new initiative from the makers of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard scheme. It is designed to support people with non-visible disabilities, such as dementia, to socially distance during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many people with dementia still live in the community and for them, coronavirus lockdown measures present some very specific challenges. They may still need to pop to the shops and do the things we all do but can find social distancing rules particularly challenging.
For this reason, the makers of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard have started a new awareness scheme for anyone with a hidden disability, like dementia.
Staying safe in public places during coronavirus
Please give me space is designed to alert members of the public that they need to keep their distance from the wearer of the ‘Please give me space’ symbol, as the wearer has difficulty maintaining social distance.
Wearing or showing the symbol in public, can also defuse difficult situations, without the need for complex explanations.
During coronavirus, people can get quite upset if distancing is not maintained. This has resulted in people with hidden disabilities, including dementia, being verbally abused or aggressively confronted for not maintaining a safe social distance.
We spoke to Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Peter Middleton, who is living with dementia, about the way he uses his Sunflower lanyard and asked him why he felt the Please give me space scheme would be helpful during the pandemic.
I don't always see and understand the signals that other people react to.
'I may inadvertently break social distancing rules and appear to be rude. The new rules can be very daunting and trying to conform to them is a great pressure and causes anxiety.
'My lanyard gives me more confidence as it broadcasts to people that I am prone to make mistakes and allows them to be more understanding. I don't wear my lanyard every time I go out, but I always have it in my pocket in case I get into a situation where I feel vulnerable.'
Peter recorded himself for a month to show the ups and downs of living with dementia. Watch a short video on YouTube to find out more about his experiences.
Giving people with dementia wearable choices
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and Please give me space lanyard schemes allow people with dementia and other hidden disabilities to easily communicate their issues in public situations if they choose to do that.
Some people with dementia prefer not to outwardly display their status. They may choose a more discreet way to let others know about their diagnosis while out and about, such as our free helpcards.
Some people are concerned that displaying their status may make them vulnerable in particular environments. Others may find the Sunflower and Please give me space helpful tools in their day-to-day lives.
It’s a matter of choice for the person with dementia. Sometimes friends or family might think it would be a good idea for the person to wear a lanyard but they should be supported to decide for themselves. If they can’t then they should still be involved as much as possible and friends and family should think about what’s best for that person.