Reassurance on disabled people’s lockdown rights
Learning disability charity ENABLE Scotland has teamed up with Police Scotland and the Scottish Government to reassure its members about their rights during the Coronavirus lockdown.
The charity has made a digital image – clearly stating the right of people who have a learning disability to exercise outside more than once a day when they need to – freely available to download from its website.
The image references the latest Scottish Government guidance, is endorsed by Police Scotland, and can be saved on smartphones by people who have a learning disability, their family members or carers to show if challenged.
ENABLE Scotland says that many of the people it supports have found the lockdown rules stressful, especially if leaving home for regular exercise several times a day is an important part of their routine and coping strategies.
While welcoming the Scottish Government’s updated guidance that notes exceptions to the once-a-day exercise rule include: “individuals with learning disabilities or autism (who) require specific exercise in an open space two or three times each day”, the charity still found many of its members were afraid to venture outdoors.
ENABLE Scotland’s Charity Delivery Manager Nicole Forsyth said:
It became clear from our regular phone calls and Zoom catch-ups with members that a major source of anxiety for many of them is the fear of being challenged by police officers when out exercising.
So our members suggested this handy smartphone image, and along with its endorsement by Police Scotland and the Scottish Government, it means our members will feel more secure and comfortable about going outside to exercise – which not only helps them stay healthy physically, but is also really important for their mental health at what is an especially challenging time for everyone.
ENABLE Scotland member Tony Lee Davidson from Elgin was one of those who suggested the smartphone image as a solution, and he said:
Knowing that people who need to exercise outside more than once a day have the right to do so really takes a weight off our shoulders. Just having this statement on our phones reassures us that the Police and Scottish Government understand and respect our needs, and will help keep everyone safe and supported.
Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey MSP said:
This is a great initiative by ENABLE whose carers do a wonderful job at supporting people with learning disabilities and complex care needs, some of whom find it much easier to stick to a regular exercise routine in order to stay well.
This screen image is a really simple and clear way to assist individuals who need time to get outside for exercise to be able to explain, if asked, why they are outdoors.
Chief Superintendent David Duncan of Police Scotland’s Safer Communities Division said:
Police Scotland is committed to keeping people safe and protecting all of our communities during the coronavirus pandemic. We understand that some individuals will be increasingly anxious due to the current social distancing restrictions, and the prospect of engaging with police officers in public places may add to these feelings.
We have already issued guidance to our officers and staff regarding behaviour, body language and communication while interacting with people who have, or may have, a learning disability. We have established relationships with partner organisations and regularly engage with them to ensure our practices, advice and approach to policing our communities take account of the differing needs of the people we serve.
Versions of the image have been designed for iPhone and Android devices, and can be downloaded free of charge from ENABLE Scotland’s online Coronavirus information hub. People can save them on their smartphones, and can even use it as their lock screen so they can show it easily to anyone who might challenge them.