Last year, in 2020, Bedford Borough Council, Cambridgeshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, The Harpur Centre, Love Bedford (Bedford BID), Bedford Borough Parent Carer Forum and Access Bedford announced their support for hidden disability sunflower lanyards in the borough.
Sunflower lanyards are free and can help people who have disabilities that are not immediately obvious to others. This could include people with learning difficulties, those living with dementia or poor mental health, as well as mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments.
Wearing the sunflower lanyard indicates to others, including shop workers, members of the community, colleagues and health professionals that additional support, help or a little patience may be needed.
Throughout the pandemic, sunflower lanyards have been used by many people and has helped others to recognise those that may require additional support or assistance and easily identify that someone may be exempt from wearing a face covering.
BedfordBID recently received funding from the Town Centre Grant to purchase sunflower window stickers and tuition packs for town centre businesses. So far, almost 50 shops are now displaying stickers and posters in their windows, this will allow those customers with hidden disabilities to easily identify those businesses that have trained their staff in recognising hidden disabilities and what the sunflower lanyard means.
Martin Keys, owner of Gallone's Bedford Ice Cream Parlour, The Arcade said, "The sunflower scheme has been a really positive initiative. We do quite a bit of work with various groups, but the message/ advertising/signposting doesn't reach everyone who needs it. The stickers on display have really helped identify us as a friendly, caring, responsible and knowledgeable business to those who need that reassurance, that safe space. It's been a real 'lifeline."
Councillor Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Town Centres said, "I'm delighted that Mayor Dave's Town Centre Priority Fund was able to support this initiative. Not all disabilities are visible and it can be difficult for others to identify or understand the challenges that people may be facing. Everyone must feel welcome when visiting our town centres and this is a further step to help achieve that. While changes from 19 July in the government's roadmap brings us all a little closer to normality, we have to remember that COVID-19 has not gone away, with cases increasing locally so it's important that we all remain cautious, support our amazing local businesses - and shop local, and do what we can to keep everyone safe."
To get a free lanyard for yourself, a family member or friend with a hidden disability, visit one of the following places in Bedford Borough. Please continue to follow social distancing guidelines:
· Bedford Central Library
· The Higgins Bedford
· Halifax bank
· Lloyds Bank
· M&S food halls
If you or someone you know has a hidden disability and want more information about services, support, information and advice, clubs and activities then visit the Bedford Borough Local Offer.
To see the businesses that have opted to join the scheme and received training from the BedfordBID visit www.lovebedford.co.uk/sunflower.php
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