Transport for London are running a new poster campaign to inform people that they should be giving up their seats for people with ‘invisible illnesses’.
It’s Priority Seating Week, which means it’s time for Transport for London’s latest campaign to raise awareness of passengers that may need a seat. Historically, when travelling on the tube the younger or more able-bodied passengers would give up their seats when the tube was busy for pregnant women and the elderly, but the new campaign focusses on so-called ‘invisible illnesses’.
A number of people are quoted talking to TFL about why they would be using the new badges, from people with muscle wasting disorders to the blind and people who suffer with anxiety.
The campaign is trying to draw attention to the fact that it isn’t always immediately obvious if someone requires priority seating and is suffering from a less obvious type of disability. Hannah Poll, who suffers from a muscular disorder where standing for long periods causes pain, explained that sometimes people give her dirty looks for wearing her ‘please offer me a seat’ badge when she looks like an otherwise healthy 23-year-old.
She told The Metro: ‘If I have to stand, I stumble over quite a lot, which is annoying for myself and other people. Before I had it (the badge) I would have to stand a lot, then walk a little bit to get home and be in absolute agony. A couple of times I would stumble over and hurt myself.” Some people apparently pretend not to see the badge, accuse her of wearing it as a joke or end up giving up their seat but are very vocal about their opposition to it.
Though Hannah’s case is a little more cut and dry, because she can’t make her way around London painlessly without her card, TFL has also worked with people who struggle with their mental health on the campaign. One woman who was photographed for the campaign, identified only as Claire, can be seen holding a sign that reads “I wear my badge because you can’t see my anxiety”.
TfL issues ‘baby on board’ badges to pregnant women and ‘please offer me a seat’ badges to those who require them. The badges come with a card and are free of charge.