Danske Bank has signed up to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard Scheme, which aims to provide people who have a disability, that is not immediately obvious to others – such as autism, asthma, chronic illness or visual or hearing impairments– a discreet way to let people know they may need extra support.

Danske Bank is the first NI bank to sign up to the scheme and joins other retailers such as Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Argos, B&Q and Tesco as well as Nationwide and all major UK airports.

Danske Bank’s staff have been trained to recognise the lanyard and on how to provide extra support to customers who choose to wear one. From today, a limited supply of lanyards is available on request for Danske Bank customers in branch, they can also be purchased from hiddendisabilitiesstore.com.

The launch coincides with Purple Tuesday (3 Nov), a national campaign for organisations to make the customer experience more accessible to disabled customers.

Aisling Press, Managing Director of Personal Banking at Danske Bank added: “One in five people in Northern Ireland have a disability and around 80% of disabilities are hidden. At Danske Bank, we are committed to making sure our services are not just accessible for everyone but that everyone receives excellent customer service. Colleagues in our Enable disabilities network and our Vulnerability Steering Group and Champions have been instrumental in helping to drive and deliver this.

“We’re delighted to introduce the sunflower lanyard scheme and to help spread the awareness and reach of the scheme in Northern Ireland. We are already a JAM Card-friendly and dementia-friendly organisation, and our colleagues are trained to recognise a number of initiatives and understand the varying needs of different customers. Those customers who need some additional support may not always be completely obvious.”

Launched in 2016, the initiative is supported by RNIB and other charities including Alzheimer’s Society.

Paul White, CEO at Hidden Disabilities added: “We are excited to welcome Danske Bank to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme. By adopting the Sunflower Danske Bank will be able to offer customers and colleagues with a hidden disability the recognition, understanding and help they may need. The addition of Danske Bank also helps raise awareness of the Sunflower in Northern Ireland.”

Since 2019, the bank has been a JAM Card friendly organisation, and has worked with the Alzheimer’s Society to become dementia friendly over the past number of years. Today it has over 200 trained Dementia Friends across its branches, contact centre and support teams.

Last year, Danske became the first company in Northern Ireland to sign up to The Valuable 500, making a public commitment to putting disability on the board agenda, and was the first bank in Northern Ireland to sign up to the Equality Commission’s Every Customer Counts initiative.