As more train operators join the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is marking its first year in the programme.
Since it became the first UK train company to introduce Sunflower lanyards, as part of the ever-growing scheme that allows customers with hidden disabilities to let staff know, discreetly, that they might need some extra help, LNER has handed out more than 10,000 Sunflower lanyards. This has helped thousands of customers enjoy smoother journeys during the company’s first year in the scheme.
Along its 936-mile East Coast route, LNER has trained more than 50 Sunflower Ambassadors, able to help customers with hidden disabilities such as autism, dementia or a visual impairment.
The scheme has now been adopted by almost all other trains companies in the UK, which have introduced the bright green, sunflower print lanyards and assistance cards at their stations. The scheme, which also operates successfully in major airports and supermarkets, has been endorsed by hidden disability charities.
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.
It is estimated one in five people in the UK have a disability, 70 per cent of which are hidden.
LNER’s customer experience director Claire Ansley said: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to travel with us and for customers to have the best possible experience.
“For people with hidden disabilities, it understandably can be an unnerving experience travelling on public transport.
“We’re delighted that there has been so much support for the Sunflower Lanyard scheme. We hope we can continue making journeys more comfortable for many more customers and wish to develop the scheme further to enhance their experience.”