Sunflower Lanyards for additional support

5th July 2022 (updated 31st October 2022)

A scheme that lets you discreetly tell others that you stammer and need patience. Find out how you can get a Sunflower lanyard and card for yourself.

Have you noticed people wearing lanyards covered with sunflowers and wondered what they were for? They're part of a nationwide scheme to give people with non-visible disabilities and conditions a way to let staff or health professionals know so that they can give support or assistance. If you get anxious about speaking to officials or workers because you stammer, they could help you.

The scheme was established by the organisation Hidden Disabilities after workers at Gatwick Airport were thinking of ways to make travel more accessible. Since then, the Sunflower Lanyard scheme has grown in popularity and is now recognised by the whole of the UK railway network, as well as supermarkets and retailers including Tesco, Sainsburys and Marks & Spencer; airports, leisure facilities, theme parks, healthcare, emergency services and more. It's gone global too with the scheme being launched in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the USA.

Discover Sunflower-friendly places by using the Find the Sunflower tool.

How it can help with stammering

Wearing a sunflower lanyard and its attached card indicates to others that you have a condition or a disability. If their organisation supports the scheme, staff will have been briefed to understand what the lanyards signify so that they can offer the right support, patience and understanding.

If it helps some people who stammer just feel more relaxed when travelling by train and able to enjoy their journeys more, that in itself would be good.

In an ideal world, others should of course be patient and supportive when we stammer. Until we get to that point, if you're not comfortable telling people that you stammer and want patience (eg with our 'I Stammer' cards), the lanyards could be a good alternative, especially seeing as more and more people are aware of what they mean.

So, if your stammer is covert, wearing a sunflower lanyard could help you to feel less anxious when you're out and about and need to speak to someone, for instance a Network Rail employee. If your stammer is more noticeable, the lanyard could eliminate those times when you block and people just don't get it and grow uncomfortable, which can in turn make you more anxious.

If you want to be even more discreet you can just show the Sunflower Card without wearing the lanyard.

One of our members, John Thompson, said, "If it helps some people who stammer just feel more relaxed when travelling by train and able to enjoy their journeys more, that in itself would be good. If it also helps some feel more confident about travelling by train, so more likely to consider a sustainable transport mode, it would be even better."

How to get a Sunflower lanyard or card

You can pick up a free lanyard and/or card from your local train station, supermarket or shop that supports the scheme. Use the Find the Sunflower tool to find your nearest outlet. The only snag is that you have to ask for it at the customer service desk. This might put off a lot of people who stammer. If you'd rather not do that, you can order one online: get a lanyard with a plain card and wallet for £2.28.

For £3 you can order a card with a printed personal message along with your picture. See their Make it Yours page.

Hidden Disabilities sell cards with specific printed messages for different conditions but not yet for stammering. We've requested that they produce one, and they replied favourable, so watch this space. 

For more information about the scheme, visit the Hidden Disabilities website.

*Update October 2022: Listen to an episode of the Sunflower Conversations podcast, which includes a chat with Kirsten Howell's, STAMMA's Programme Lead for Adults.

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Tayo & Bhupinder
A speaker on stage at STAMMAFest 2023

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