1: Sunflower lanyard

For people with hidden disabilities, going on holiday can be difficult. Being in a busy environment with hundreds of other passengers may leave them feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Just because a disability isn’t obvious doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but it’s not always easy for people with hidden disabilities to ask for help. Some passengers feel they’ll be judged, and it can be frustrating trying to explain symptoms that can’t be seen to others.

The Sunflower lanyard scheme lets others know someone has a hidden disability. First introduced at Gatwick airport in 2016, since then nine other airports across the UK have joined the scheme. In addition, Manchester airport has recently introduced a new Sunflower Room.

The lanyards are bright green and allow airport staff to easily and discreetly identify passengers who may need extra assistance. 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. 

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

Both Sainsbury and Tesco are currently trialling the sunflower scheme in a number of their stores. 


2: Blue badges

Those with hidden disabilities such as autism, dementia and anxiety can apply for a blue badge parking permit in England.

A blue badge permit means the user can park in designated disabled bays – usually closer to their destination.

Scotland and Wales have already introduced similar rules, but they haven’t yet changed in Northern Ireland.

Adults, as parents, can apply for a badge if they have a child in the family with a disability, too.

The guidance was issued by the Department for Transport on the 30th August 2019. Local councils still have the final say on who does and who doesn’t qualify for a blue badge.

An invisible condition is a medical condition that cannot be seen: Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease, sickle cell anaemia, and lupus are just a few examples of invisible conditions affecting people’s daily life. 


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