#ICantWearAMask: Think twice and be kind

#ICantWearAMask is asking people to think twice and be kind before challenging someone who isn’t wearing a face covering in certain public places. People with learning disabilities and/or autism may not be able to wear a face covering, which leaves them at increased risk of hate targeting and hate crimes.

Please watch Corey’s story and share #ICantWearAMask to help more people understand why not everyone can wear a face covering.

Corey, our Business Development Administration Assistant, has autism and was delivering emergency PPE supplies to one of our services when he was confronted with hostility and abuse from a bus driver and his fellow passengers.

Read Corey’s full story, which has been published in the Metro.

Some people don’t have to wear a face covering

Face coverings have been made a legal requirement in some public spaces in England.

There are some exemptions to the law, which means some people don’t have to wear a face covering.

Some of the legal exemptions are:

  • People who can’t put on, wear, or take off a face covering because of physical or mental illness, impairment or disability
  • If wearing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • If you or the person you are with needs to use lip reading to communicate
  • To eat, drink or take medication as necessary

You can read the full list here on gov.uk

Types of face covering

There are different types of face covering, which can be beneficial to some people:

  • Reusable fabric face coverings can be softer than the disposable medical face coverings
  • Silk face coverings can be softer than fabric face coverings
  • Face coverings with clear panels in the front can be good if you communicate with people who rely on lip reading as a form of communication
  • Face shields can be good for people who are sensitive to fabric coverings that touch the face, and if you communicate with people who rely on lip reading as a form of communication.

If you query someone, be kind

It’s important that as many people as possible wear a face covering and, as part of your job, you might have to ask people why they aren’t.

#ICantWearAMask is asking you to be understanding. Corey describes two other situations where he was challenged but felt positive about what happened. This is because the people were polite, patient and understanding.

If you do need to query someone, please:

  • Speak in a friendly and patient way
  • Give them time to think about their answer and listen to what they say
  • Don’t be surprised if they avoid eye contact or don’t talk
  • If they look distressed reassure them and leave

I don’t need to wear a face covering, what should I do?

If you are exempt from wearing a face covering you don’t have to wear one.

If you are exempt from wearing a face covering think about:

  • Can I wear a mask or covering for some amount of time?
  • What type of mask or covering might be easier to wear? Fabric masks are softer and more comfortable than medical masks

If you can’t wear a face covering, you can:

  • Download and show people these exemption cards
  • If you have proof of your disability, carry it to help show people why you are exempt. But, you do not have to prove your disability and no one can force you to
  • Prepare – think about what you would say to someone if they question you
  • Ask someone you trust to support you out and about to help you get used to it

If something bad happens:

  • Try to leave the situation safely and calmly
  • Find a security guard, police officer or police community support officer
  • Make a formal complaint to the manager or the company
  • If you need emergency help call 999 or ask someone who isn’t involved to
  • If you don’t need emergency help but would like to report it, call 101
  • Visit this webpage to find out how to report a hate crime

Please share #ICantWearAMask

If we share #ICantWearAMask we can hopefully see less stories like the hostility shown to Corey and more like the kind individuals who were patient and understanding. Please share #ICantWearAMask and help more people understand that not everyone can wear a face covering,