Barnstaple shops urged to join lanyard scheme to help those with hidden disabilities

Luke Greening, Mary Follett and Eddy Macalister with the sunflower lanyards. Picture: Matt Smart

Luke Greening, Mary Follett and Eddy Macalister with the sunflower lanyards. Picture: Matt Smart - Credit: Matt Smart

One of Barnstaple’s flagship High Street shops hopes other town centre businesses will get behind a scheme to help those with hidden disabilities.

Marks and Spencer has introduced sunflower lanyards at its Barnstaple store and all of its owned UK stores, and staff hope other shops in the town will do the same.

Those with hidden disabilities such as autism and dementia can wear the sunflower lanyards to let people know they may require extra assistance.

Mary Follett, who works at the Barnstaple store, said: "People can wear the lanyard, but if people don't know what it represents, the message is lost.

"So we really want to make sure other shops in the High Street and town centre know what it is about, and hope businesses can get involved.

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"This isn't just about one shop, it's about the whole town."

Marks and Spencer is also trialling a quiet shopping hour on Sunday mornings in Barnstaple.

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The first takes place on Sunday, October 20 from 10am to 11am, with another planned on October 27.

It will see store lighting dimmed, escalators and till scanners turned off and a reduction of general noise in the Foodhall.

Store manager Stephen Deacon said: "For many families in our community, picking up the weekly shop, or going shopping for clothes, can become a very stressful event, and we want to make our store somewhere for everyone to enjoy a calm and inclusive visit.

"We are committed to making M&S the most accessible retailer, and this is one of a number of initiatives we have to support those with hidden disabilities."

"Sunday morning is just one thing of many that we are doing. This is about working with the local community and pushing the sunflower lanyard is huge for us.

"It's another way we can stay close to the community and try and do everything we can for all our customers."

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