Mum Praises Supermarkets' Sunflower Lanyard Scheme That Helps Her Son With Autism

The hidden disability sunflower lanyards operate in several supermarkets – including Tesco and Sainsbury's – as well as a number of airports. uk

A mum has praised supermarkets and airports that provide sunflower lanyards for those with invisible illnesses or hidden conditions, who might need additional assistance.

Nikki Pearson, who lives in Launceston, Cornwall, ordered one of the lanyards from Tesco for her son Harvey, who has autism.

The mother-of-four explained she “loves the idea” because staff are trained to be more aware of the help these customers may require.

“I love that it is not labelling anyone but it just makes people more aware that it may be why that person is struggling,” Pearson wrote in a post on Facebook.

The scheme was developed by designers, Tabbers Limited, alongside the OCS Group UK, who provide support services to UK airports. It has been available in Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Gatwick Airport since February 2019, for those with invisible illnesses such as autism, dementia, visual or hearing impairment.

Staff are told to be aware that these customers might need more time to shop, as well as help packing bags and taking them to the car. They might also require staff to speak face-to-face to allow lip reading, using clear and easy-to-understand language.

The lanyards might also be worn by people who need help reaching products, reading labels and assistance finding suitable trolleys or scooters.

Pearson said it helps her son when he might behave in a certain way while shopping. For example, screaming or kicking. “He isn’t a naughty child he is just processing and seeing/hearing things we have no idea are even happening,” she wrote.

“I am really happy the post is spreading awareness and people think it’s a great idea,” Pearson told HuffPost UK. “I love the fact it’s discreet and doesn’t label anyone – it’s just a subtle way that people will know they may need help.”

“I found the lanyard gave me confidence as I knew people would help me.”

A customer from Sainsbury’s, who is partially sighted and has early-onset dementia, commented on the mum’s post: “I did feel a bit stupid having to put on the lanyard and I told my husband I didn’t want to wear it, but he encouraged me to.

“I went to the petrol station first before going to the supermarket which I would never normally do on my own, but I found the lanyard gave me confidence as I knew people would help me.”

Another person commented: “I walked in my local Sainsbury’s and got one for my son, no questions asked and they even asked me how many I needed.”

Sainsbury’s in Barnstaple was the first store to trial the scheme earlier this year following the lead of Gatwick airport, which has handed out 10,000 so far.

The lanyards are available to collect for free in specific stores and are available for each customer to keep, so they can wear it every time they shop.

Participating business include: Belfast Airport, Birmingham Airport, Bristol Airport, Edinburgh Airport, Inverness Airport, London City Airport, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester Airport, Sumburgh Airport – and Tesco and Sainsbury’s in trial stores. Find out which stores are participating on the Tesco and Sainsbury’s websites.

For more information on the lanyards, visit the dedicated website here.