Avanti West Coast has become the latest train operator to adopt the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme – an initiative for customers to discreetly indicate they have a hidden disability while travelling.
Under the scheme, customers with hidden disabilities can obtain lanyards, wristbands or wallet cards with a recognisable sunflower logo, which they can show to staff to let them know they may require some extra help, time or assistance while on board.
In an update to the scheme, following announcements that face coverings must be worn on public transport in England and Scotland, some new products will also state the holder is exempt from these measures.
Teams at Avanti West Coast have been briefed on the scheme, which is entirely voluntary, and they have joined colleagues from South Western Railway (SWR), TransPennine Express and other operators who already administer the scheme.
Brandon Peat, accessibility and inclusion manager at Avanti West Coast, said: “As more passengers start travelling again, we are striving to make the railway more inclusive. We are incredibly proud to be part of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, giving passengers with hidden disabilities greater confidence to travel on Avanti West Coast.”
Since its launch in 2016, the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower has now been adopted globally by major airports and venues and in the UK, by many supermarkets, railway and coach stations, leisure facilities, the NHS, a number of police, fire and ambulance services, and an increasing number of small and large businesses and organisations.
The sunflower suggests happiness, positivity, strength as well as growth and confidence. It intends to allow everyone with Hidden Disabilities to choose to be visible when they need to be.
SWR’s accessibility and inclusion manager, Michael Adlington, commented: “While it is positive that a growing number of disabled people are using the railway, too many still feel that they are unable to do so.
“Through this scheme and other measures, this is something we are committed to playing our part in changing.”
Charlie French, accessibility and integration manager at TransPennine Express, added: “For those with non-visible disabilities, rail travel can be a daunting experience, which is why we are delighted to be launching Sunflower Lanyards and assistance cards for our customers to try and make their journeys as comfortable as possible.
“By wearing one of these lanyards, or using the cards, it helps our station and on-board colleagues know who may need a little extra assistance and ensure that their journey is a smooth and enjoyable one.”