Sunflower lanyards scheme for hidden disabilities


I didn’t know about the Sunflower Lanyard for hidden disabilities scheme until this week when a friend was talking about it on FB. The scheme was started at Gatwick Airport a few years ago. Over 1000 people with hidden disabilities use passenger assistance at Gatwick every month. The lanyard scheme was designed to make sure travellers had an easier time at the airport. Hidden disabilities includes people with dementia, autism, hearing loss, and fibromyalgia who may find walking, standing, and queuing difficult, or find the sounds, crowds and lights overwhelming. Staff have been trained to offer appropriate support when they see someone wearing the lanyard.

The scheme was so popular that it was rolled out across all the UK airports and now is being trialled by some rail companies.

Now it’s also being trialled by Sainsbury’s to assist shoppers with making it around the super-sized supermarkets. I have a chronic fatigue condition so know how this feels. I’ve got my lanyard ready to go and face Stanstead next month.

You can collect a free Sunflower Lanyard from the assistance desk of any UK airport, or customer services at selected Sainsbury’s running the trial:




Join the ‘Dining Room Dialogues’ – a monthly Person-Centred discussion group for counsellors and trainees

Rachel Yates – Counsellor, Walthamstow, East London, E17

Mental Health training and consultancy, Person Centred Encounter Group

Launching the Dining Room Dialogues – a discussion group for therapists and trainees.

‘Dining Room Dialogues’ is a monthly, themed, peer-based group discussion for qualified therapists and trainees who have an interest in the Person-Centred Approach and a belief in a more trauma-informed and non-medicalised approach to mental health and mental distress. It will be a small group of 7/8 people sat around a dining room table, with the opportunity to learn together by each bringing our knowledge and experiences.

For more information see:

If you would like a place, and we expect these will go quickly please email –  

Each discussion will be facilitated by me and Jules Haley. I am a qualified counsellor and mental health trainer with over twenty years of experience of working with alternative “models of madness” (Read & Dillon, 2013). My career has been at St Mungo’s, a homelessness organisation, within a client-facing role where I have led and delivered psychologically informed and trauma-responsive environments based on the person-centred approach to mental distress. Jules is a qualified therapist with lived experience of mental health issues, including the good, bad and ugly ways of coping.

We will develop new ideas and ways of understanding through our discussion together about specific issues, starting with ‘madness’ over a set of three Sundays followed by a set on gender and identity. You will have an opportunity to learn and raise thoughts, ideas or ask those questions that you may have just keep to yourself over the years. It is totally up to you how much you want to contribute and take away, at your pace and perhaps at times based on what is relevant within the discussion to you.

(Please be aware that although these groups are a confidential space, they are not an alternative to supervision and/or therapy.)


Each of the ‘Dining Room Dialogues’ is held in Walthamstow, East London. A homemade vegetarian lunch, as well as unlimited good coffee and herbal teas is provided at the dining room table. Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements. Cost is £25 per person/ per discussion group, payment is by BACS. A certificate will be provided for CPD use.

A list of relevant and interesting reading such as books, articles or videos will be provided before each session for you to look at these before the discussion group meets, although it is not an issue if you do not get to it before the session.

Dates and themes

‘Exploring Madness’ runs from February to April 2019. Each session starts at 11am, finishing at 3.30pm on a Sunday.

  • Paranoia and Unusual Beliefs – Sunday 3 February
    • We will be thinking about and discussing why and how people feel paranoid and hold unusual beliefs. Ways to support and work with unusual beliefs. Rachel will draw from her experiences of 8+ years running a community peer-led Unusual Beliefs group.
  • Hearing Voices – Sunday 3 March
    • We will be talking about what hearing voices is like, think about where the voices may come from, the impact on people’s lives, and ways to support people with this experience.
  • The label of ‘Personality Disorder’ – Sunday 7 April
    • We will be looking at the diagnoses of personality disorder that clients may acquire – the validity, impact and meaning. How we can support someone through exploring the person-centred work of Margaret Warner (Pearce & Sommerbeck, 2013). Client processes at the difficult edge on Difficult Process); looking at the experience of fragile, dissociative and psychotic process. I will drawn on my personal experiences of living with difficult processing styles.

‘Exploring identity’ runs from May to July 2019

  • Non-binary and trans identity – Sunday 5 May
    • We will be thinking about and discussing our understanding and language of gender, trans, non-binary and gender expression. The impact of being gender non-conforming and thinking about ways to support non-binary and trans people.
  • Non-monogamous and poly-amorous relationships – Sunday 2 June
    • We will be talking about reasons why people are in these relationships, issues that they may bring to the counselling room, our prejudices and understanding, and thinking about how we support them.
  • Sexuality – Sunday 7 July
    • We will be looking at how the experience of growing up, coming out and living as gay/lesbian/bi in a ‘straight’ world affects people’s mental health, self-esteem and relationships. We will be thinking about how this can bring them into counselling, and the support they may be looking for.