Distance Aware is a UK-wide initiative launched by the Bevan Commission which enables individuals and organisations to politely prompt ongoing distancing and respect of individual social space. The scheme is symbolised by a shield with arrows; indicating the desired space. The scheme has previously been endorsed by the Welsh, Northern Irish and UK Governments. The Scottish Government has confirmed Distance Aware will launch in Scotland on 26 January and is investing to promote the scheme and the products across Scotland.
The shield icon is worn as a badge or lanyard to allow individuals to indicate that they would like to have space around them. Because this icon is universal, it means that is open to anyone that wishes to indicate they’d like distance around them.
The Scottish Government has worked with the Bevan Commission to adopt the Distance Aware scheme and adapt it for Scotland. We believe the initiative can support people in adapting to live with the virus in ways that are less restrictive and can help overcome anxiety people may feel in returning to public settings including places of worship.
Existing sources where individuals can access badges include UK wide partner ASDA, or online through a small number of partner charities listed on the Bevan website. The Scottish Government has also procured badges and lanyards for distribution free at libraries throughout Scotland. This is to ensure that people across the breadth of Scotland can access the scheme, and is not reliant on digital sources in order to receive a badge.
We will be promoting Distance Aware in the coming days on our website, through a press release, social media content, SMS messages, and through a letter to around 180,000 people on the Highest Risk List.
However this scheme, which is completely voluntary, is available to anyone who needs it for any reason, to make sure everyone benefits as restrictions are reduced and we return to a more normal way of life. This will be a big step or change for some for many reasons, and we hope will make more people confident and comfortable in public places and work. It also provides an opportunity to discuss with staff, customers or members what living with the virus and returning to a more normal way of life means for everyone, and how we can do this in consideration of those who find it harder to adapt.
To ensure success of the scheme we are asking businesses and organisations to help us raise awareness of the Distance Aware symbol and with staff, customers and members.
The stakeholder pack provides information on Distance Aware, and includes suggestions on ways in which business and organisations can participate in the scheme, and resources to support them with this. These include suggested social media content and posters that can be printed for display. These are provided in high resolution (A4) pdf format, and have also been provided as an open file to allow organisations to re-size where required.
As part of our ongoing evaluation of the scheme, we are keen to gauge how widely the scheme has been promoted and to understand how organisations are using the resources in the toolkit so will be very grateful for any feedback you or faith groups are able to provide, and will be in touch in the coming weeks for this.