December 3, 2019, by Issy
What are these Sunflower Lanyards?
Sunflower Lanyards are a subtle way to indicate that someone might need a little bit of extra support going about their day. It’s a new scheme introduced nationwide, and can be used by absolutely anyone who feels they need one – you do not have to provide proof of a disability, or justify yourself. The scheme is beginning to gain recognition at the University of Nottingham, in particular following the ‘Stronger Together’ campaign video by the Disabled Students’ Network.
I have recently begun to wear one: I have an anxiety disorder which can make certain social situations very difficult, especially if it involves one of my ‘triggers’, which can be very unexpected and throw me completely – which is really difficult if I am out in public.
I decided to ask a fellow student who has one a few questions about her experience with it, and compared their answers to mine – you can see how diverse a range of conditions the scheme can work for.
How often do you wear it?
M: I used to wear it every day around my neck but now I have it strapped to my bag. So, it is on me everyday
Me: not that often, because my anxiety is sometimes under enough control that I don’t need that extra support.
- Just because someone have one does not mean they are obliged to wear it all the time – if they aren’t wearing one, things might be in a positive state for them, and you should not challenge their ‘need’ for it.
What sort of things have people offered to do?
M: a woman on the tram offered me a seat when I was having a meltdown. It seemed she was aware of the scheme, but I can’t be sure.
Me: when I go shopping, staff members offer to walk around the shop with me, or open up another checkout to avoid the crowding. I don’t always take them up on the offer, but it is so much appreciate.
Where did you get it?
M: I have two. One I bought myself from the sunflower website for 55p, the other I got for free at York Train Station.
Me: I got it for free at the customer service desk at my local supermarket!
- Many large chains and public transport spaces are in support of the scheme and you can go up to the customer service desk, or a staff member and ask for one. It’s free. (Manchester airport even has a ‘sunflower room’ for people to take time out if they need it!)
What difference has it made to you?
M: Its made me feel a lot more confident in public. I feel now if anything happens I can use it as armour. So, I don’t have to justify why I need certain help or resources.
Me: I feel places that weren’t previously accessible for me now are becoming slightly more so. It’s a relief, and is helping with the recovery process knowing I have support wherever I go.
You can check out the sunflower lanyards website here: https://hiddendisabilitiesstore.com/about-hidden-disabilities-sunflower
The DSN Stronger Together Video: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/currentstudents/student-charter/student-community/stronger-together.aspx
University Disability Support: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/studentservices/servicedetails/disability-support-services/disability-support-services.aspx