The Sunflower Conversations

An easier day out

June 20, 2021 Hidden Disabilities Sunflower
The Sunflower Conversations
An easier day out
Chapters
The Sunflower Conversations
An easier day out
Jun 20, 2021
Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

Maddie White has anxiety and depression which sometimes makes it difficult for her to navigate daily life, especially when out in a public place on her own. Maddie often feels uncomfortable if she needed to ask a stranger for help finding something in a shop or asking for directions if unsure of where to go, when taking public transport.

In this conversation, Maddie tells us how wearing the Sunflower has made things a lot easier. She feels that staff in businesses and organisations that recognise and support the Sunflower are more mindful and aware, making her feel more secure as she passes through airports or does her weekly shop. 

Hosted by Paul Shriever,  Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

Show Notes Transcript

Maddie White has anxiety and depression which sometimes makes it difficult for her to navigate daily life, especially when out in a public place on her own. Maddie often feels uncomfortable if she needed to ask a stranger for help finding something in a shop or asking for directions if unsure of where to go, when taking public transport.

In this conversation, Maddie tells us how wearing the Sunflower has made things a lot easier. She feels that staff in businesses and organisations that recognise and support the Sunflower are more mindful and aware, making her feel more secure as she passes through airports or does her weekly shop. 

Hosted by Paul Shriever,  Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

Paul Shriever:

My name is Paul Shriever and today I will be talking to Maddie White about her experiences with the Hidden Disability Sunflower Scheme. Welcome Maddie, please introduce yourself.

Maddie White:

Hi, I'm Maddie and I have a hidden disability. I suffer with quite bad anxiety and depressive episodes. It used to be quite difficult generally with socialization and the places where I found it most difficult was going to the shops or going on holiday. When I went to the airport or on public transport, if I'm on my own, I find that quite difficult but since I have had the lanyard or just the other things, it's just made it a lot easier for me and it made me a lot more comfortable in those situations.

Paul Shriever:

So things were sort of generally quite difficult on a kind of daily basis?

Maddie White:

Yeah, say I went out and I went to Tesco's or something, I'd find it quite difficult to ask, if I couldn't find something, I'd be a bit uncomfortable with asking someone.

Paul Shriever:

How did you hear about the Hidden Disability Sunflower?

Maddie White:

Well, I'm really lucky that my dad's quite actively involved in the scheme. So when it was first coming out and everything, and it was first being put together, he basically said, "Do you want to try it, because I think it would help you as well as other people."

Paul Shriever:

What made you choose to wear the Sunflower?

Maddie White:

It first came out in the airport so the first time I properly used it was when we went on holiday a couple of years ago and I just used it when I was going through the airport and through security and stuff, 'cause I find that quite stressful and it makes you quite anxious because you got to be at a certain place at a certain time. You've got to stand here, here and here and there's not much flexibility in the situation. So, I always find that quite difficult.

Paul Shriever:

Was it something that was noticed and then helped you with your situation?

Maddie White:

It just made it a lot easier for me because they were more mindful of where I was and what I was doing and whether I was being taken care of or not. It just made it a lot easier because they were actually aware of where I was.

Paul Shriever:

Can I ask Maddie, what it is you actually use or what you wear?

Maddie White:

I always wear my little bracelet. I have that on all the time, but normally when I go to the shops or when I go on the train and stuff like that, or when I go to the airport, I'll wear the lanyard with the little ID part. I always wear my lanyard when I go through the airport just because it makes me feel a lot more comfortable.

Paul Shriever:

It's like something that when you are carrying it, you feel that it kind of helps you with your situation as well.

Maddie White:

Definitely, I think that if I wear it, I'm a lot more comfortable and I feel like people do recognize that I'm wearing it and every time I've worn it at the airport or anything, I've always been very well looked after.

Paul Shriever:

Do you feel that it gets noticed then when you're wearing it?

Maddie White:

Yeah, I went on holiday with school to New York and there's a couple of us in my group who have hidden disabilities. There was like four or five of us who were wearing our lanyards, and when we started to go through security, they came up to us and they were like, oh look, because we can keep you all together and we can take you through a different way to make it less stressful for the guys who are wearing their lanyards. So they all made sure that we stuck all together. They didn't separate us out and I thought that was good because I always find it more difficult if I'm on my own as well.

Maddie White:

I'm a lot more inclined to wear my lanyard if I'm on my own compared to if I'm with my family or my friends.

Paul Shriever:

Are you more likely to wear it when you are on your own then?

Maddie White:

When I'm in the airport I normally wear it and in the shops, I always wear it whether I'm on my own or with my family, but on public transport, I'm less likely to wear it unless I'm on my own. Just because I feel more supported when I'm say with my mom or with my friends or my dad.

Paul Shriever:

You just mentioned going away with your school, when you were in that group, obviously some of you would have had a lanyard and others wouldn't. Do you feel that the whole group was treated and considered because of one or two people wearing that lanyard, as opposed to just an individual?

Maddie White:

When they were sorting it all out and letting us go through a different way, they focused most on the people who were wearing a lanyard, because they were the people who they were most concerned about, but they didn't take us away. We had two teachers on our trips, so they didn't say, oh, one teacher, you can come with these guys, the rest of you go through, they let us all go through together. I've never been treated differently because of it.

Paul Shriever:

Do you have any memorable experiences of you wearing the Sunflower?

Maddie White:

When we went on holiday a couple of years ago, when it was kind of first becoming a proper thing. It wasn't as big as it is now, people weren't as aware of it and we were queuing up to get back through inter-country, through passport control and I find big, long queues like that, I find them a bit uncomfortable because obviously like all of the railings, you're all kept and herded through, kind of thing. But they saw, they recognized that I was wearing my lanyard and they basically said to me and my family, they were like, look, we can take you through special assistance to help you avoid the queues and make it more comfortable.

Paul Shriever:

And Maddie, were you with your family then? Did they include all of you?

Maddie White:

Yeah, yeah, I was with my mom, my dad and my sister, and they let all of us through, they just recognized that I was wearing it. They were like, oh, you guys can come through here.

Paul Shriever:

Would you recommend the Sunflower Scheme to others with hidden disabilities then?

Maddie White:

Yeah, definitely. I think I already have in a way, because one of my really close friends has Autism and she uses the lanyard when she goes out or whatever and it's definitely helped her a lot because she didn't realize that it was as big of a thing as it actually is.

Paul Shriever:

Thank you very much for your time today, Maddie, it's been great.

Paul Shriever:

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