13th October 2020
Over the coming weeks students and staff can expect to see Sunflower Lanyards being worn across campus. These lanyards are used to signify that the wearer has a hidden disability and are pieces of green ribbon, decorated with sunflowers, worn around the neck. You may have already seen these lanyards being used in UK shops and airports, as this is a national initiative. The company behind this, Hidden Disabilities, state that they opted for a sunflower, as it is gender neutral, positive, bright and bold. It allows those with hidden disabilities to be visible, when they choose to be.
The scheme was created in 2016, originally with the aim of helping those with hidden disabilities when using airports. This allowed the individuals to discretely display that they might require additional help and support navigating the terminals or security processes. However, last year the initiative began to grow as larger retailers and supermarket chains started acknowledging and distributing the lanyards within their stores.
This year, the scheme has grown even further due to the Coronavirus pandemic and mask exemption. Wearing the lanyard doesn’t automatically mean that somebody is exempt from wearing a face covering, however some individuals who are considered medically exempt chose to wear the lanyard alongside their exemption card to display their exemption. You may see people with the lanyards still wearing masks or visors, but they may only be able to tolerate them for short periods of time. The may also be individuals who wear the lanyards to signify needing lift or seating priority, who are not face covering exempt and will wear a mask all the time. Then there will be other lanyard wearers who can’t wear a mask at all. Please be mindful and considerate whatever the circumstance.
Who is entitled to a lanyard?
The lanyards are available to anybody with a hidden disability – for example Autism, learning differences, mental health problems and chronic illnesses, as well as those with hearing, respiratory, visual, speech or mobility impairments.
Who is considered face mask exempt?
As we are (hopefully) all aware, face masks are now mandatory in all indoor public spaces and transportation across England, however some people are considered medically exempt from wearing a face covering and many will have documentation from healthcare professionals or the government to prove this. Generally individuals who are unable to wear or remove a face covering, due to either physical or mental illness, or those who are considered as having a significant disability or impairment, are classed as exempt.
Why do they need the lanyards?
A lot of people in England right now are very anxious about contracting Coronavirus and this can occasionally lead to hostility. This means for that those people who are exempt from wearing masks, they sometimes end up being challenged, verbally abused and made to feel exposed. This is why individuals are being encouraged to wear the lanyards and cards when they feel able. It lets people around them know that they are exempt and ensures they aren’t mistaken for those few individuals who have decided to simply ignore legislation.
If you have any questions about the scheme or think you could be eligible for a lanyard and card, please get in touch.