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TransPennine Express (TPE) and Hull Trains are making journeys easier for customers who have non-visible disabilities with the introduction of sunflower lanyards and assistance cards.
The scheme, which was developed at Gatwick Airport in 2016 and is now used in other airports in the United Kingdom, along with supermarkets chains allows those with hidden disabilities, to make themselves visible to railway staff, indicating that they may need some extra assistance while travelling.
Customers who have a non-visible disability, such as visual impairment or autism, will be able to collect a sunflower lanyard from any TPE managed station, alternatively they can request one by contacting TPE on Twitter by sending a message to @TPEAssist, on WhatsApp by messaging TPE on 07812 223 336 and by emailing TPE customer relations. They can also be requested by calling Hull Trains Assisted Travel team on 0800 316 1323 or TPE’s Assisted Travel team on 0800 107 2149.
Charlie French, Accessibility and Integration Manager at TransPennine Express, said: “One of our main aims at TransPennine Express is to make rail travel accessible and comfortable for as many people as we can. 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.”
Paul Jackson, Head of Stakeholder and Customer Engagement from Hull Trains added: “More than one million passengers a year travel with us and many of those are travelling with a non-visible disability. Our on-board teams are very good at supporting passengers with any extra care they need on their journey, but these lanyards will make this process even easier. They will also make sure that anyone who doesn’t have the confidence or ability to communicate this themselves, will still get a bit of extra help.”
Emma Hardy, MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, said: “It is great news that TransPennine Express and Hull Trains are working with Aim Higher and their Sunflower Lanyards project. Many disabilities just aren’t visible, and this scheme helps so many people by making them visible to staff and customers from airports to supermarkets, and hopefully this will now take some of the stress out of rail travel in Hull. By providing a safer, more relaxed journey hopefully many more people with hidden disabilities will feel more at ease jumping on a train to explore our wonderful countryside and cities across the UK”
Nicola Robinson, co-founder and Trustee of Aim Higher, commented: “Just because you can’t see a disability, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Sunflower lanyards are a great way of giving hidden disabilities a voice, as well as offering a safe, inclusive journey, give the ability to someone with a hidden disability.”
Rosemary Pantelakis, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services at Hull City Council, said: “This scheme is a wonderfully sensitive approach for those who have a disability that is not obvious. It gives those people the security of knowing that whatever needs they may have can be considered without drawing attention to the whole world.”