Support while you're out and about with the sunflower lanyard

Post date: 
Monday, 20 January 2020
Hidden disabilities lanyard - a green lanyard with a pattern of sunflowers

If you have a disability that may not be immediately obvious but would appreciate support from staff in UK airports, certain railways, shops, hospitals and other public venues, 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, visits 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 and ferries

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.

In December 2019, Network Rail announced that the lanyard can now be picked up at four of the country's biggest stations: Manchester Piccadilly, London Euston, Liverpool Lime Street and Birmingham New Street, as part of a trial.

In January 2020, after working closely with RNIB to train their staff, P&O Ferries announced the launch of the lanyard scheme across its North Sea routes.

Supermarkets and retail stores

A number of supermarkets and retailers started trialling the lanyard in 2018. In September 2019, M&S become the first UK retailer to introduce sunflower lanyards into all of its stores. They were followed by Sainsbury’s and Argos, who announced the nationwide rollout of sunflower lanyards in all their stores in October. In December 2019, Tesco also announced that they would begin providing sunflower lanyards at all of its stores.

Vangarde Shopping Park in York, intu Trafford Centre in Manchester and Ladysmith Shopping Centre in Ashton-under-Lyne are a number of shopping centres that recognise the scheme.

The Mall, which has five shopping centres in BlackburnLuton, Maidstone, Walthamstow and Wood Green under its umbrella, has adopted the lanyard.

Visitor attractions and leisure providers

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

Inspired by Eureka!, the Victoria Gallery and Museum in Liverpool adopted the scheme in December 2019.

According to Lincolnshire County Council, seven local heritage attractions have adopted the lanyard, while the market town of Ulverston in Cumbria has adopted the scheme in a bid to make the town more disability-friendly.

The famous Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire has introduced the lanyard scheme, and the Royal International Air Tattoo, which stages air shows in Gloucestershire for aircraft enthusiasts, is currently trialling the lanyard.

Forest Holidays, a UK holiday provider, has adopted the lanyard, as has Knowsley Safari, a zoological park in the North West.

Hospitals

A number of NHS Trusts including Guy's and St Thomas' hospital in London, Great Western Hospital in Swindon, and East Sussex Healthcare hospitals have adopted the lanyard scheme.

Sports venues

Sports venues and stadiums have also started to recognise the lanyard, such as the homes/headquarters of Fulham FC, the Worcester Warriors and Sussex County FA.

Other places and organisations

The University of Sussex has adopted the lanyard on its campus, as has Harrogate library and performance venues Brighton Dome and Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.


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 and ferries: Contact customer services before you travel or ask at station booking offices or check-in desks.
     
  • Supermarkets and retail stores: Request the lanyard at the customer service desk of larger stores or shopping centres, or at the checkout at smaller stores. 
     
  • Visitor attractions and leisure providers: Ask at the tills or information points, or contact customer services in advance.
     
  • Hospitals: The main reception desks should be able to give you a lanyard, or tell you about the other areas of the hospital where you can collect one.
     
  • Sports venues: Contact the ticket office.
     
  • 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.