Sunflower Lanyard

If you have a disability that may not be immediately obvious but would appreciate support from staff in UK airports, certain railways, supermarkets or visitor attractions, then you may be interested to know there is a lanyard you can wear to signal this. 

The lanyard, which is entirely voluntary for people with hidden disabilities and their families, acts as a discreet sign for staff that additional support or help may be required.

The hidden disabilities lanyard is also called the “sunflower lanyard” because of its appearance – a strip of green with a pattern of yellow sunflowers. Once you get one, it is yours to keep and use for future travels, shopping trips and outings where the scheme is recognised.

Airports

In 2016, Gatwick launched the first-of-its-kind lanyard for passengers with hidden disabilities who may require additional support when travelling through the airport. 

For instance, by wearing the lanyard at Gatwick or other major UK airports, you could receive support with:

  • getting more time to prepare at check-in and security
  • getting a more comprehensive briefing on what to expect as you travel through the airport
  • staff assisting with reading a departure board or sign.

Railways

The lanyard scheme is gradually being adopted by railways. It is now being used by LNER, which operates the London North Eastern routes, and c2c, which serves 26 stations in East London and South Essex.

Supermarkets

The lanyard is being trialled by two major supermarkets. Sainsbury’s is running an extended trial at 40 branches following a successful test at its Barnstaple store, while Tesco is running a trial in 15 of its Hertfordshire stores.

Visitor attractions

In August 2019, Eureka!, a children’s museum in Yorkshire, joined the lanyard scheme. If you’re planning a visit to Eureka!, they have lots of information on accessible visits on their website.

The Royal International Air Tattoo, which stages air shows in Gloucestershire for aircraft enthusiasts, is another attraction currently trialling the lanyard.

How to get a lanyard

  • Airports: If you’re due to fly from a major UK airport, you should be able to ask for a lanyard from an airport assistance desk, or order it in advance, depending on your chosen airport. Find out more about the best way of getting the lanyard by contacting the airport before you travel.
     
  • Railways: For LNER, ask at any station or by contacting customers services. For c2c, ask at station booking offices or by contacting customers services.
     
  • Supermarkets: If you happen to shop in any of the Sainsbury’s or Tesco stores running the trial, you can request the lanyard at the customer service desk of larger stores or the checkout at smaller ones. 
     
  • Visitor attractions: Ask at the tills or information points.
     
  • Alternatively, you can purchase the lanyard from the Hidden Disabilities Store.

This initiative is being supported by RNIB and other charities including Alzheimer’s Society, The National Autistic Society and Action on Hearing Loss.

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Patrick Downes

Third Sector Development Officer – IT Lead based in Pontypool

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