Invisible disabilities: What is a sunflower lanyard?

Last updated at 09:17

Going on holiday can be a busy time for lots of families!

From packing and getting to the airport on time to making it through security and getting through the crowds to board your flight - there's no doubt that while travelling is exciting, it's also pretty stressful.

For people with hidden disabilities, the experience can be even more difficult.

Being in a busy environment with hundreds of other passengers may leave some feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

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What is an invisible condition?

It's not always easy for people with hidden disabilities to ask for help.

Some passengers feel they'll be judged if they ask for help from airport staff and it can also be frustrating trying to explain symptoms that can't be seen to others.

What are airports doing about it?

A scheme, which is supported by charities, has been introduced where a strap worn around your neck (called a lanyard) lets others know that you have hidden disabilities.

This was first introduced by Gatwick airport in 2016, and since then, nine other airports across the UK have also welcomed the scheme.

People with hidden conditions can ask for special sunflower lanyards.

sunflower lanyardHeadway

These are bright green in colour and allow airport staff to easily and discreetly identify passengers who may need extra assistance.

In addition to the lanyard scheme, Manchester airport has recently introduced a new Sunflower Room.

This allows passengers to have some time away from the hustle and bustle of the departure area if needed.

According to airports and charities, both the sunflower scheme and the new Sunflower Room have received positive feedback from customers.

What else are airports doing to help passengers with hidden disabilities?
girl-on-planeGetty Images
Getting ready to go on holiday can be an exciting time, but it can be quite stressful for some

Airport staff can help passengers with lanyards by:

  • Giving them more time to prepare for security checks and boarding
  • Letting them stay with family members at all times
  • Giving them clear instructions to follow
  • Explaining in detail what they can expect when travelling through the airport
Where else can sunflower lanyards be used?

The sunflower lanyard scheme has seen a lot of success in UK airports.

Other transport providers have also started to offer the lanyards and supermarkets are getting involved too.

It's also appearing in supermarkets - both Sainsbury's and Tesco are currently trialling the sunflower scheme in a number of their stores.

A Sainsbury's spoke person told Newsround: "We know our customers and colleagues are excited about our sunflower lanyard initiative and we are too. We're just making some final touches to the scheme before we roll it out nationally."

What impact do you think the sunflower lanyards will have in the future? Let us know in the comments!

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