Let’s Be Clear campaign launch

The Let’s Be Clear campaign for Gloucestershire has now launched. In the spirit of being clear, we had a chat with Lucy, our Campaigns Lead, to find out where the idea came from and to hear why the team are so passionate about it at Barnwood Trust.


How did the Let’s Be Clear campaign come about?

During lockdown the Research team at Barnwood Trust wanted to understand the impact of Covid-19 on disabled people and people with mental health challenges in Gloucestershire. We spoke to charities and voluntary organisations, and individuals directly affected. As a result, the Our Changing World report was published. It surfaced a number of important issues for people, including a need for clearer and more accessible information, and the impact of mask wearing in public.  Non-clear face masks were reported to increase communication difficulties and isolation for a wide range of people who rely on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate.

What is the aim of the campaign, what change do you want to see?

Let’s Be Clear is a campaign for clear face masks and clearer communication across Gloucestershire.  We want to see more people wearing clear face masks in public places to reduce communication barriers and isolation for a wide range of people. This affects people who are deaf or hard of hearing, people with a learning disability, autism, dementia, or English as a second language – so, thousands of people across our county.

Anyone in a people-facing role, such as shop assistants, hairdressers, pharmacists, librarians and so on, could make a huge difference to the lives of people who rely on lip reading and seeing facial expressions when they are out and about.

The benefits of wearing clear face masks will be different for different people. Finding ways to connect and have easier conversations feels like something we can all can get on board with. I know I’m looking forward to less embarrassing moments on the street bumping into people I know but can’t quite recognise and once again being able to unlock my phone using facial recognition!

For the campaign, we also want to make sure people are included and welcomed into public spaces around the county, and information is clearer for everyone. For instance, do signs, leaflets and online spaces hold in mind people with different requirements?  So much good practice has slipped in recent months and that makes people feel forgotten and undervalued. We’d like to see that changing.

Who’s involved and how can people join the movement?

Lots of other local organisations are also passionate about this work and so have partnered with us on the Let’s Be Clear campaign, including Gloucestershire Deaf Association, Inclusion Gloucestershire, Age UK Gloucestershire, Active Impact, Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees, University of Gloucestershire, Diocese of Gloucester, and Cheltenham Borough Homes.

There are more organisations getting involved all the time, sometimes as campaign partners, sometimes to find ways of improving the accessibility of their information or to make their organisation more welcoming (there is some funding available to help with this). We are eager to hear from people if they want to know more.

Here are some highlights of what campaign partners have shared with us so far about why it is important to be involved:

“We recently carried out a survey of older people in Gloucestershire and found that 33% felt isolated, and just over half said their enjoyment of life has decreased during the pandemic. We can see that the use of non-clear face masks plays a part in this feeling of disconnection, so we wanted to join the Let’s Be Clear campaign to raise awareness and bring people together around a solution.”         

Rob Fountain, CEO of Age UK Gloucestershire

“We work alongside many disabled people in Gloucestershire. Having a physical disability can mean that speech is not as clear as other people’s and wearing a face covering makes conversation that much harder. Some people with a learning disability rely on extra facial cues to understand too. So, we were eager to get involved and to try out clear face masks for ourselves at Inclusion Gloucestershire.”

Vicci Livingstone-Thompson, CEO of Inclusion Gloucestershire

“There are 4.2 million people in the UK who use a main language other than English, that includes British Sign Language and a wide range of languages from across the world. At Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees we are aware of many people in this county who are currently learning English. This has been more difficult while people are wearing face masks. It’s important for people to be aware of this and to know that there are things we can all do to help.”

Maggie Powell, Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees

How can the general public join in Let’s Be Clear?

Buying or making a clear face mask for yourself and your friends is a good place to start. And, we want to know how people find them.

We realise that not everyone will want to, or have access to a clear face mask, so as part of the campaign we are also sharing communication hints and tips to make conversation a bit easier for everyone.

The Let’s Be Clear campaign website is packed with resources to share, such as animations, posters and mask-making tutorials.

In time, we want to add short stories about community groups who have come together to make clear masks (there’s some funding available for this too) and about people who have found clear face masks work well in shops, cafés and other public places in Gloucestershire.


And, finally…

So, why not get involved with the Let’s Be Clear campaign and help make communication easier and more welcoming in Gloucestershire.

There are lots of ways to join in on the campaign website www.letsbeclearcampaign.org

To speak to Lucy on behalf of the Let’s Be Clear campaign group email lucy.adam@barnwoodtrust.org or call 01242 539935

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