A lanyard scheme has been rolled out in a Crookes supermarket to help those who may have disabilities. 

Sainsbury’s have released ‘sunflower lanyards’ in Sheffield and the rest of the UK to help those with hidden disabilities.

The scheme was initiated following a successful trail which hoped to improve the shopping experience of those who may need extra help in stores. 


Francisca Rainford, 50, from Crookes, was diagnosed with autism 4 years ago after she felt she never “quite fit in”. 

Ms Rainford said: “I find that when I go shopping I can’t think straight and I may start to behave strangely, to others at least, by talking to myself and using repetitive phrases or actions that I find soothing. 

“It is particularly difficult for me if I can’t find what I am looking for, usually because either I do not know the shop or place, or because things have been moved around or have changed.”

Francisca has high functioning autism, meaning people are not usually aware that she has “different needs”.

An invisible disability is a disability that is not immediately apparent. Some disabled people do not use wheelchairs, aids or are visibly disabled, meaning their disability may not be noticed or considered by others.

Ms Rainford said: “I do not see that having high functioning autism is a disability. I just see & understand things from a different perspective. I am proud to be autistic.

“Despite this, to live happily in this world, I sometimes need a little guidance to get through a seemingly straightforward situation. This is why the lanyard system is such a great idea.”

Other stores in the UK, including Morrisons, host “Autism Hour”. A period of time where the shop aims to provide a calming environment for those who may find it difficult to shop otherwise.

Sainsbury’s and Argos hosted Autism Hour this year October 9th, in support of the National Autistic Society, but it’s unclear if this is going to become a regular occurrence.

Ms Rainford believes “there is much more to be done”.

“Many more public places should make their staff aware of the different ways that people may struggle. Not just autism, but to mental health problems and Alzheimer’s too. Maybe the lanyard scheme should be extended to these people as well.”

The lanyard scheme has been adopted in other busy places, such as airports.