How sunflower lanyards can help during Covid-19
By: Philippa Harrington, On: 27 August 2020
The Hidden Disabilities sunflower lanyard scheme has gained mainstream recognition in recent years as a practical and discreet way for people with hidden disabilities to indicate that help may be needed. If you have a hidden disability, you don’t have to wear a sunflower lanyard if you don’t want to, but they are now recognised in most major stores around the UK and they can make life a little easier should you choose to use one.
Who are sunflower lanyards for?
Wearing a sunflower lanyard is a way for people with hidden disabilities to indicate that they may need help or assistance while out and about, particularly in shops and other public spaces. Hidden disabilities can include sensory loss (such as difficulties seeing or hearing), autism, dementia, anxiety, or other physical disabilities which are not automatically obvious.
How can sunflower lanyards help during the pandemic?
The pandemic has turned daily life on its head, and now many mundane tasks have become more difficult, particularly for people with hidden disabilities. Going shopping, where customers now have to wear masks, queue for long periods, and follow arrows directing flow direction, is one example of a simple activity which has been made much more complex by the arrival of the new coronavirus.
Wearing a sunflower lanyard can indicate to staff in shops and other public places that you have a hidden disability, and help may be required. Some examples of situations where a sunflower lanyard might come in handy are:
- If you are asthmatic and cannot wear a mask for long periods of time, wearing a lanyard means that staff and shoppers will know that you have a reason for being exempt. This will, hopefully, make most people stop and think before they ask you why you’re not wearing a mask.
- If you suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and might not always remember to social distance or follow arrows on the ground, the sunflower lanyard will hopefully mean other people are more understanding about this hidden disability.
- If you suffer from an illness such as Crohn’s and require convenient access to a bathroom, wearing a sunflower lanyard should indicate to other people that you have a good reason for sometimes ignoring the ‘only one cubicle occupied at a time’ rule in public toilets.
- If you have difficulties standing or walking for long periods and may need to skip a long queue outside a shop to be able to enter.
These situations are all unique to the current pandemic and demonstrate just how much the restrictions imposed upon people by Covid-19 have affected daily life for those with disabilities.
What else can help me during Covid-19?
If you suffer from a disability, hidden or not, there are other things you can take advantage of to make life easier during the pandemic.
Government food parcels are available for free to all people who are on the shielding list. These can help you to get by at home with minimal trips out of the house. You should also have priority for online food delivery slots if you are shielding; by ordering your groceries online, you can minimise your risk of catching coronavirus and avoid the difficulties posed by shopping at this time.
If you are not shielding and can’t get a supermarket delivery slot, you could look for local groups who are offering to help with shopping and picking up prescriptions and delivering them to your door.
Look for supermarkets who offer special opening hours for people with disabilities; many supermarkets are offering an hourly slot a few times a week when only older people or people with disabilities can shop. The stores should be quieter and less stressful during these times.
Do I have to wear a sunflower lanyard if I have a hidden disability?
Not at all. If you have a hidden disability but you don’t require assistance or don’t want to publish your disability, you don’t have to wear one. Equally, even without a lanyard, you can always ask staff and other shoppers for help.
Wearing a lanyard is a way to signal your disability either to save yourself the time of having to explain it frequently, for example, if you can’t wear a mask for long periods, or if you are not always able to communicate that you need assistance – this may sometimes be the case when people are suffering from dementia, autism, or anxiety.
There is no onus on you to wear a lanyard, and even when you attend dedicated shopping hours you don’t have to wear one.
Where can I get a sunflower lanyard?
If you think you could benefit from using a sunflower lanyard during these difficult times, they’re easy to get hold of. You can buy them on the Hidden Disabilities website or pick them up from many hospitals and large supermarkets.