Hear from our community about how they've been struggling with social distancing.
Since the start of lockdown, our community has been telling us about issues they’ve been facing due to social distancing rules. For some, it’s been a knock in confidence as they’re anxious they can’t maintain social distancing properly; whereas for others, they’ve experienced verbal abuse from members of the public for not keeping the right distance.
Here are just a few stories and experiences from members of our community:
Rachael Pereira, 33, from Nottingham, is registered severely sight impaired. She is completely blind in her left eye due to bilateral congenital cataracts, and has tunnel vision in her right eye as a result of glaucoma. She said: “People tell me off for getting too close to them, but I can’t see them there. It’s really upsetting because it makes me feel as though I put people at risk of contracting coronavirus.
“It’s not just people either. I’ve even bumped my head on the clear Perspex screens at supermarket tills because they aren’t clearly marked. It’s little things like this happening every day that make me feel inferior and put me off from going out alone at all.
“If people were more aware of the blind or partially sighted people around them, I feel like they might be more understanding. And I really feel that floor markings for social distancing should be made tactile, so that I can feel them with my cane. It’s little changes like this that could make a big difference.”
Maureen Goodall from Hatfield, Hertfordshire, has retinitis pigmentosa, Adie-Pupil syndrome and Charles Bonnet syndrome, which leaves her with limited tunnel vision.She said: “Social distancing is incredibly challenging for me as my tunnel vision makes it impossible to tell where people are. Although I always have my cane with me, people have got really cross with me for not maintaining a two-metre distance.
“It’s not just members of the public, either. Although some supermarket staff have been great and have gone out of their way to help, I have been shouted at by a member of checkout staff for not being able to understand when she was pointing at where to stand.
“All supermarkets seem to have different systems, as well, which makes it even harder to feel confident. I have also had to step into the road several times when I’ve been out as people haven’t made room for me even though I have my cane.
“I feel I’ve totally lost my independence over the last 100 days. I’ve had to rely on my children to help me and I have struggled with anxiety from the whole situation. There needs to be a greater understanding from the public that some people cannot socially distance and need to be given space. We’re not trying to cause trouble or break the rules.”
Shelly Roberts from Merseyside has anophthalmia, a condition which means that she was born without eyes or optic nerves.
She said: “Trying to get anyone to guide me over the last three months has been almost impossible. Members of the public don’t want to come near me. The only way I can get out of the house is to go with my husband.
“I’ve become completely reliant on him to help me, and I’m afraid to leave the house on my own now. I’ve lost my independence and it’s really scary. People need to be more aware that there are people who simply cannot social distance without help.”