Shoppers have been required to wear a mask in stores for several weeks now across England, with exceptions for children and those with disabilities, but disabilities are not always visible and many people have faced discrimination for not wearing a mask.
By Liz Smailes, Marketing & Communications Officer, Skipton BID
Give me just a little more time…
Public places, shops, restaurants and hotels have been making plenty of changes over the past few months in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Introducing strict social distancing measures, protective screens at counters and priority shopping times for some customers have been clear guidelines to follow. But with face masks now mandatory in all stores according to the new government guidelines, who has to wear them, and who doesn’t hasn’t always been so clear cut.
With the help of sunflowers, some of the grey area is made clearer and the invisible is made visible. Since 2016 The Hidden Disabilities organisation has worked to help people signal to others that they may need additional help in shops. Now, the program includes exemption from masks, addressing the discrimination and offering a discreet way to show staff and other customers that the wearer may need additional help.
A person wearing a lanyard can also have more time at the checkout if they need it, or assistance with packing bags and hard-to-reach products (this is not an exhaustive list).
The sunflower lanyards are widely available in Tescos, Morrisons and some charity shops for people with autism, Asperger’s, learning disabilities and dementia. Also included are hidden disabilities such as arthritis, MS, ME, other chronic illnesses, visual and hearing impairments.
As well as lanyards, additional communication tools with sunflowers include cards and badges explaining the scheme, and during the pandemic it can be a useful way of explaining to others why you are not able to wear a mask, or if you are able to wear a mask but still have less obvious challenges than fully-abled people.