Sunflower Lanyards: Offering Extra Support for Hidden Disabilities

Bonnie Evie Gifford
By Bonnie Evie Gifford,
updated on Sep 19, 2019

Sunflower Lanyards: Offering Extra Support for Hidden Disabilities

Sunflower lanyards are now being used by transport companies across the country – but what are they, and how can they help?

Passengers who have a hidden disability or health condition can now use sunflower lanyards to show staff that they may need additional help or assistance during their journey. While more and more places are starting to offer these free lanyards (you can request one by post or email from several different airports, as well as purchasing from some third party places online), not everyone is familiar yet with the concept.

When travelling earlier this year through Gatwick, it took speaking to several members of staff before we could find someone who knew about the lanyard scheme and where we could pick one up. Yet once we had one, we really could tell the difference when passing through security; things felt less pressured and rushed, we were directed to a quieter queue, and we felt the overall reassurance that having an outward sign that we may need a little more time and patience (without the added anxiety of having to explain) provided.

What are sunflower lanyards, and where are they available?

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) became the latest in a series of transport providers to introduce sunflower lanyards for those who have a hidden disability or condition back in April 2019. The bright green sunflower print lanyard is fast becoming the symbol of hidden disabilities in the UK.

Passengers who choose to wear a sunflower lanyard are able to discreetly let staff know they may be autistic, have ADHD, dementia, a visual impairment, or other invisible condition without having to verbally disclose to staff.

LNER have also introduced Sunflower ambassadors along their route between London, Yorkshire, North East England and Scotland. Volunteers from around the business will be trained on how to best help customers with hidden disabilities.

LNER is the first train company to introduce the scheme, following the introduction at multiple UK airports including London Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Newcastle International, Edinburgh, Belfast, Bristol, Manchester, and East Midlands.

First introduced at Gatwick Airport, over 10,000 lanyards have been collected to date. Passengers flying from airports which use the scheme should typically let airlines know at least 48 hours in advance if they need any specific assistance. Those wearing a sunflower lanyard can travel independently through airports with the assurance that if they need any additional support, experience any discomfort, or may need assistance, staff will be happy to help.

The hidden disability lanyard scheme helps enable travel amongst those who may find the experience stressful or distressing.

In February 2019, national supermarket chain Sainsbury’s announced an extension of their trial to help customers with hidden disabilities, introducing the sunflower lanyards to select stores. Following the successful initial trial at their Barnstaple store, Sainsbury’s is the first supermarket to trial the initiative.

The supermarket scheme sees staff provide extra support such as opening new checkout lanes, helping customers find items, as well as giving them more time at checkout lanes.

Where can I get a sunflower lanyard?

Passengers can request a free sunflower lanyard by contacting the LNER Customer Solutions Centre or collecting them from any LNER station. Passengers flying from UK airports can check with their departing airport to see how they can receive a free lanyard by post or from terminal assistance desks at the airport. Customers at select Sainsbury’s stores can pick up a lanyard at the customer service desk. Lanyards are free and can be re-used at other locations operating the scheme.

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