Man Sparks Debate After Inventing Arm Bands To Physically Identify Vulnerable People

by : Daniel Richardson on : 19 Jul 2021 14:15
Man Sparks Debate After Inventing Arm Bands To Physically Identify Vulnerable PeopleNeil Collingwood/Facebook

A man with a weakened immune system has come up with a way to identify people in a similar situation for social distancing purposes. 

64-year-old Neil Collingwood from Leek, Staffordshire, has had an idea to try and help people with disabilities as lockdown measures are removed, by developing a prototype armband to identify, and therefore protect, those with weakened immune systems.


The armband ‘is bright orange and uses the universal symbol for first aid’, but some are concerned about its connotations.

Arm band for vulnerable (Neil Collingwood/ BBC)Neil Collingwood/BBC

Collingwood told BBC News, ‘There are about half a million people in the UK whose immune systems are not effective,’ and he wants these people to be able to clearly demonstrate they need extra social distance during the pandemic – particularly after some research found COVID-19 vaccines were less effective in those with compromised immune systems.

The creator of the armband has personal experience with living with a weakened immune system as he has chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, a form of blood cancer, as well as type 1 diabetes. Collingwood noted, ‘If this became the accepted way of people identifying themselves, then that might make my life a lot better than it has been for the past 16 months.’


Discussing his fears about the removal of lockdown measures, Collingwood stated:

I run eight to 10 miles a couple of times a week down a disused railway line, and after Monday, people are not going to want to give me any sort of social distance.

I’ve already had people who have refused to get out of my way, with one person shouting ‘grow up it’s not going to kill you.’

Collingwood added, ‘Some of the people in my situation maybe 10 or 12 years old, they will never – as things stand – be able to have normal lives.’ He also said he does not ‘want to sacrifice what time I have got left because of stupidity’.


Despite Collingwood’s logic, the idea of an armband has sparked a lot of debate. Particularly, as some have been reminded of the persecution of Jewish people in Nazi Germany, who were also required to wear signifiers.

Others have suggested that medical bracelets continue to be used. One person wrote, ‘it looks like their [sic] the first-aider rather than someone suffering. aren’t there already medical bracelets available. surely taking an idea from those bracelets years ago with coloured beads representing an illness say blue is for dementia or red is for diabetes.’

There have been supporters of the idea, but early comments have made it clear that not everyone would want to wear an armband to make people aware of their weakened immune system.


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Daniel Richardson

After graduating from university, Dan went on to work with a variety of tech startups and media outlets. These included the likes of The Hook, WhatCulture and Game Rant. Eventually, Dan found a home for his journalism at UNILAD.

Topics: News, COVID-19, no-article-matching, Now, UK


BBC News
  1. BBC News

    Covid: Arm band calls for those with weak immune systems