Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice and support for the visible difference community 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a profound effect on the lives of people with visible differences. We have been listening to our community and creating new resources in response to the unique challenges the pandemic has presented.

Although we can’t see you face-to-face, we continue to offer all of our wellbeing services – either online or by phone – so that people with a visible difference and their families can get the help they need. 

Below you’ll find reliable advice and information about the services available to you, to help you cope during this time.  

What have we missed? As the coronavirus situation changes, we know you may have new worries or questions. If that is the case, please fill in this short form and tell us what information is currently missing from our website, and we’ll do our best to respond. 

I’m worried about lockdown easing

Lockdown has provided a welcome relief for some people with visible differences. Although you may be missing friends, colleagues, teachers and the routine of work or study, you may have found lockdown less stressful than having to attend school, going to work or being out in public.

You may have felt safe and secure in your home, away from a sense of public scrutiny. The thought of going back into the world again may feel daunting and anxiety-provoking.

To help with this, we have developed a new resource which focusses on anxieties about returning to ‘normal’. We also have a specific resource for children and young people on what you can do to help manage your anxiety. Both of these resources include an audio relaxation session at the bottom of the page to help reduce anxiety around the easing of lockdown.

You may also wish to:

I am a student or parent worried about the return to school

Students starting primary school or progressing from primary to secondary school may miss out on valuable activities that would ordinarily smooth the transition – tours of the new school, open days, meeting new teachers and peers.

For some, the safety and comfort of a familiar school environment has been suddenly taken away, and they face starting a new school with no preparation.

Some children may also have found lockdown less stressful than attending school. They may have felt safe and cocooned in the family home, away from public scrutiny, comments, questions, stares, even teasing and bullying.

As schools reopen to a number of pupils, some children may feel very anxious about returning. To help, we have created two new resources for students and parents facing these challenges – they focus on returning to school and transitioning to a new school.

You may also wish to:

I’m anxious about returning to work or finding a new job

The thought of going back into the world of work again may feel daunting – especially if you have a visible difference.

Whether you’re feeling anxious about returning to your workplace, commuting, remaining on furlough, or looking for a new job, our new resource about returning to work contains advice and information to help manage your concerns.

You can also contact our Support and Information Line to discuss your situation.

I’m concerned about wearing a mask or face covering

Some people with a visible difference may find wearing a face covering or mask challenging, however, others may find it comforting – and some may feel conflicted, experiencing both of these feelings about mask-wearing.

If you are concerned about wearing a face covering or mask, read our new self-help resource to help address these concerns.

You could benefit from speaking about your worries on our Online Support Forum or Peer Group, where other people with visible differences can also share their experiences on this.

I feel anxious on video calls

Apps like Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams have made it possible for many of us to work from home and stay connected with friends and family.

However, many people can find video-calling challenging – especially if you have a mark, scar or condition that affects your appearance. That’s why we’ve created a new self-help resource with tips and advice on how to manage your anxieties around video-calling.

You may also wish to:

I’m interested in the Skin Camouflage service – when will it reopen?

Skin camouflage is the application of specialist, highly-pigmented creams and powders, which can be used to reduce the appearance of a mark, scar or skin condition. The Changing Faces Skin Camouflage Service offers skin camouflage appointments with trained skin camouflage practitioners at clinics across England and Scotland.

As you may already know, following Government and NHS guidance in response to the coronavirus outbreak, we took the difficult decision to pause all of our Skin Camouflage clinics from mid-March.

Our primary concern has always been the wellbeing and health of our clients, volunteers, and staff. Skin camouflage appointments involve one of our trained volunteers working very closely with you to apply products directly to your skin.

Although we already had very stringent hygiene procedures in place, the coronavirus pandemic means that we need to adapt the way we deliver the service to keep everyone safe. We are working very hard to make these changes as soon as we can, without compromising the high quality care you expect from us.

You can continue to find out more about the service, including watching a video which shows how a skin camouflage appointment works. And if you would like us to get in touch when we resume our clinics, please complete this form to register your interest in the service. You can use this form to register interest for yourself or on behalf of a patient if you are a health care professional (in which case, please complete the form with the patients details)

My usual support network isn’t as available as it was before

People with visible differences may worry that appearance-related issues are somehow trivial in the face of a pandemic. In addition to this, they may find that people they’d ordinarily talk to about their feelings have less emotional bandwidth as they’re dealing with their own worries.

In these circumstances, people with visible differences who already experience mental health issues may find their emotions even harder to manage.

No appearance-related concern is trivial, and we want you to know that we’re here to support you with the challenges you’re facing. You can:

I’ve been shielding or had medical treatments cancelled

A number of conditions associated with visible difference can put people at higher risk from coronavirus, meaning that some people in our community have had to shield themselves. This may have left people facing greater risk of isolation and loneliness.

Other people have faced medical treatments being cancelled, leaving them disappointed and distressed.

If you are facing any of these challenges, you can:

  • call our Support and Information Line. While we can’t help with individual medical issues, we can provide a listening ear, initial emotional support, and signpost to relevant services.
  • connect with other people with visible differences, who may be experiencing something similar, on our Online Support Forum.

I’m worried about relationships and dating

People who are in relationships may feel anxious about seeing their partners ‘in person’ if they have been physically separated during lockdown. The time apart may have caused old worries about their appearance and how they may be perceived to rise up again.

For those seeking a relationship, this may feel even more daunting after a period of isolation and anxieties may rise around the prospect of dating, being judged, and being rejected.

If you are facing any of these challenges, please call our Support and Information Line so we can help you work through your concerns and worries. We also have a range of self-help resources with specific advice on relationships and dating.

I want to hear about the experiences of other people with a visible difference during the pandemic

We regularly share the experiences of people with a visible difference both on our website and our social media channels. To access these experiences you can:

What other support is available to me?

We have pulled together a list of other organisations that might be able to provide additional support for people with visible differences at this time. Please reach out to them directly if you would like to enquire about their services.

What have we missed?

We hope the resources and support described above have been helpful. If we’ve missed anything, please fill in this short form and tell us what information is currently missing from our website, and we’ll do our best to respond.