The Sunflower Lanyard is an initiative to help bring some visibility to invisible disabilities. When you learn that one in five people in the UK has a disability, you might start to wonder where all of these people are. But when you learn that 80% of disabilities are invisible, it becomes easier to understand how they might go unnoticed.
We assume that disabilities will be easy to spot. A wheelchair, guide dog or cane are the typical clues that we might look for. But so many people go through life without these obvious visual clues. And it can make it much more difficult for them to get help when out in public.
Having to explain your disability and how it affects you to every person you meet is stressful and unnecessary. Instead, the Sunflower Lanyard is designed to become a simple way for people to discreetly let those around them know that they are disabled.
You can buy sunflower lanyards online or you can buy them in participating shops. While some offer them for free for customers, others may ask for a donation to a charity. You don’t have to prove you have a disability to buy a lanyard.
The sunflower lanyard scheme is open to anyone. If you have a disability that makes everyday tasks more difficult, you could benefit from wearing this simple neck lanyard. The lanyards aren’t controlled by anyone, so you don’t have to apply for them to qualify.
You can wear your sunflower lanyard while you are out and about or travelling. Shop staff are trained to recognise when someone is wearing a lanyard and they will know this means you have a hidden disability.
They might ask if you require any assistance, or give you a little more time to pack your items while you are checking out. In an airport, you might be offered assistance when you check-in or at the boarding gate. On the bus, other passengers that are aware of the scheme might offer you an accessible seat.
The sunflower lanyard is recognised in shops, cafes, supermarkets and airports up and down the country. As more shops sign up to the scheme, this could soon become universally recognised.
In addition to shop staff understanding what the sunflower lanyard means, we also need the general public to understand what this yellow and green lanyard means.
If you are interested in using a sunflower lanyard, or you know someone who would benefit from one, it helps if you take the time to share this information with friends and family. By talking about it and spreading the word, you can help to make the sunflower lanyard more effective for wearers.
It’s important to remember that the lanyards don’t offer any guarantees. They don’t give you a fast track pass, and they don’t get you anything for free. There wouldn’t be much sense in misusing the scheme. It’s important not to point fingers or accuse anyone of misusing the scheme, as hidden disabilities can affect anyone.
The problem with the perception of hidden disabilities is that sufferers feel that they have to “prove” they are truly disabled. The idea behind the scheme is that anyone wearing the sunflower lanyard does not need to explain themselves. This is why we need to maintain the idea that anyone wearing the lanyard has a hidden disability, and no further explanation is required.