Hidden disability sunflower lanyard scheme

lanyard pSainsbury's and Argos have joined several other organisations and companies by rolling out sunflower lanyards in all their stores, to help enhance the shopping experience for customers with hidden disabilities. Following a successful trial earlier this year, the initiative offers shoppers the option to pick up a sunflower lanyard in store, which has been purposely designed to act as a discreet sign for store colleagues that they may need to provide a customer with additional support.

The retailers hope to build on the success of the scheme, by providing reassurance to customers with hidden disabilities such as autism, dementia, visual or hearing impairment and anxiety.

Colleagues will be happy to provide extra support such as assisting with finding shopping items or simply giving customers more time at the checkout. Lanyards will be available to collect for free and are for each customer to keep so they can use it every time they come into store.

The sunflower design is now recognised by a number of organisations across the UK and was initially adopted by Gatwick Airport, whom Sainsbury's worked closely with throughout the trial. By using the same design, it means customers have the option to use their lanyard in shops across the UK, in the knowledge that store colleagues will recognise what it stands for.

Tim Fallowfield, Board Sponsor for Disability Carers and Age at Sainsbury's, said: "As we work towards our vision of being the UK's most inclusive retailer, we're proud to be offering sunflower lanyards in all stores. Not all disabilities are visible, and it's clear that a subtle signal can make a big difference in providing confidence and reassurance. Together with our colleagues, we hope to give all our customers the best possible experience when shopping, while working with the wider industry to raise awareness."

An Autism Hour was also held in October, in support of the National Autistic Society. This involved stores creating a calmer environment with methods including turning down the tannoy, self-checkout sounds and café music. For more information, visit https://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/autism-hour.aspx

Tom Purser, Head of Campaigns and Public Engagement at the National Autistic Society, said, "We are delighted that Sainsbury's is taking part in Autism Hour.

"Autistic children and adults represent a huge part of our society – around 1 in 100 people in the UK. They and their families want to go shopping, just like anyone else, but may find the crowds, noise and unpredictability of high street shops overwhelming – and end up avoiding them altogether.

"Autism Hour is an opportunity for businesses and the public to learn about the small things they can do to help create a society that works for autistic people. Things like shops educating their staff about autism and making simple adjustments, such as turning down music or dimming the lights. It's often the smallest change that makes the biggest difference.

"It's great to see Sainsbury's taking simple autism-friendly steps - like issuing a sunflower lanyard to autistic and other customers with hidden disabilities - alongside their wider work to make stores more welcoming for disabled customers."