Hide me!

How accessible will the new, post-lockdown normal be?

The impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to be felt acutely across Scotland, the UK and the rest of the world. Our Intersectional Team looks at how the easing of the lockdown in England can give us some clues of what to expect when the time comes for Scotland to do the same. People flock back to town centres, cafés and shops. Life gets some level of normalcy. But social distancing rules are still in place, so long queues outside remind us that this new “normal” is not what it used to be.

What can we learn from England’s experience so that when this “new normal” reaches us, we can make sure that everyone can benefit in a safe and inclusive way? Some of us can’t wait to get out to the shops and support our local businesses, or are in desperate need for some new clothes or shoes but can’t buy online for one reason or another. Surely, being allowed to shop and use some services again will be a time of excitement and relief?

People with intersectional identities may be at higher risk of harm

Unfortunately, more people queuing in the streets to enter shops increases the potential risk for hate crime. Queues make everyone stand next to each other for long periods of time. You notice those standing next to you much more than if you were inside the shop crossing paths in an aisle. When tiredness and frustration sets in, tempers can fray.  

The queue, for all the boredom and frustration it brings, is also a place of vulnerability. If you leave, you miss your chance of buying food and other necessary items. So if someone starts being abusive towards you, you’re trapped. You have to endure it, or risk going hungry or missing the activity and losing out on some much-needed social interaction.

While this is true for any minority group, people with intersectional identities may be at higher risk in these circumstances, as targets of multiple discrimination.

If you need a carer or assistance while out and about, others may target you for bringing an extra person along. The carer could also be misread as a partner, which brings risk of being targeted with prejudice if you are then perceived as a same sex or LGBT couple (this is more likely when queuing for LGBT-related services).

Being an LGBT-friendly space does not necessarily mean that service users/customers will automatically feel safe, especially if required to queue outside, exposed to people who are not part of the service and could be hostile towards it.

Additionally, BME people may be at higher risk of discrimination while wearing a mask, so if you are not white, being out and about caries an additional layer of risk. This needs to be taken into consideration, especially when providing a safe space such as support groups and LGBT spaces.

Our 5 top tips for making events and services safe and accessible

Fear of discrimination puts people off going out altogether, and so those most vulnerable get left out when “everybody” is allowed to go out again. With that in mind, what can we do as business owners, club hosts and event organisers to make sure everyone can share the excitement and relief of easing the lockdown? 

  1. Have a clear designated space with a chair or two for people who cannot stand for long periods of time.
  2. Where possible, provide specific times or a separate line for people who have limited capacity to queue due to access needs.
  3. Put signage along the queue space reminding people that discrimination will not be tolerated, along with the measures taken to enforce this (for example, removing those causing disturbances), then make sure your rules are properly enforced.
  4. Believe (and support, where possible) service users and customers who report incidents to you.
  5. If you have staff at the entrance controlling the number of people coming inside, have them pay attention to what is going on in the queue and proactively de-escalate or disrupt incidents before they need to be reported.

 

Remember that this is a stressful time for everyone. Anxiety and frustration are high. But by following some of these guidelines, you can ease the stress on both yourself and your service users. And then, hopefully, the eventual easing of lockdown can be for everyone.

The Intersectional Team

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.