How Ostomates Can Benefit From The Sunflower Lanyard Scheme


The sunflower lanyard scheme was created in 2016 and rolled out at London Gatwick airport to help staff identify passengers who may need extra assistance, due to a hidden illness or disability. The lanyard is a discreet nod for acknowledging a hidden disability, without the wearer having to explain. Sunflowers are a sign of positivity, are gender neutral and joyful - which is why it was the chosen flower!

What started as a way to make airports more accessible has now turned into a globally recognised symbol.

Along with the lanyard, there are also many cards you can use to help signal an illness or disability. Whether it’s hearing loss, face cover exemption, diabetes, or a visual impairment for example, you can get a medical ID card. If you’re travelling with a stoma and are anxious about being stopped and questioned about your condition, you can take a travel certificate with you – SecuriCare have one available for download from their travel section.

Does having a stoma mean I have a disability?

For ostomates, in many cases having a stoma means you’re more well than you were pre-stoma so you might not identify as disabled. However, whilst you may not define yourself as disabled because of your stoma, you may need to access disabled toilets for bag changes and the lanyard can help - especially if you are concerned about being questioned as to why you are using the disabled toilets.

Perhaps you’re still dealing with symptoms of IBD or are living with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, which are both hidden illnesses and a lot of ostomates will be familiar with these conditions. Wearing a lanyard while travelling or doing the food shop could help you out a little, as staff will be more likely to spot if you need assistance, or you can ask for help and people will understand why you may need extra support or time.

These lanyards help raise awareness of hidden illnesses and disabilities.

If you’d like to get a sunflower lanyard, they are easy to come by now. You can purchase one from the official Hidden Disabilities website, and you don’t have to ‘prove’ your disability in order to buy one. You can also ask in store in places such as Tesco and B&Q for a lanyard and it won’t cost you a penny. You may see more of them around right now, and certainly during the pandemic, as some staff members have been wearing them to let customers know they are medically exempt from wearing a face covering.

Do you wear a sunflower lanyard? Has it helped you out? Let me know in the comments.

“Could you benefit from a sunflower lanyard as an ostomate?” - @katieemay1

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by Katie May Chesworth

Katie May Chesworth

About the author

Katie May is a health and wellness advocate living with a stoma, IBD and arthritis. You can follow her on Instagram for regular updates related to both her health and travels.