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P&O Ferries in first for maritime sector with launch of ‘hidden disability’ sunflower lanyard scheme

(6 January 2020) P&O FERRIES today announces the launch of the hidden disability sunflower lanyard scheme across its North Sea routes. The initiative, which is designed to support those who might not have an immediately visible disability and who might need additional assistance while travelling, reinforces P&O Ferries’ commitment to providing accessible travel for all.

Passengers of P&O Ferries sailing between Hull and Rotterdam, and Hull and Zeebrugge, can now request a sunflower lanyard free of charge, to act as a discreet sign to crew members and on-shore staff that they may need extra help or support during their journey. Designed to enhance the customer’s entire experience, P&O Ferries’ team will provide added support at all points of their journey, from arrival at the port and check-in to disembarkation.

Working closely with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), P&O Ferries has provided extensive training for all its employees ahead of the scheme’s launch, with specialist content provided by the charity, which supports those with sight loss. Examples of where further support will be provided include allowing extra time for customers to prepare at check-in and security, ensuring they are able to remain with their families at all times where possible, as well as providing a more comprehensive briefing on what they can expect as they travel through the port and reading information from departure boards.

Passengers can request a sunflower lanyard via the ferry operator’s website, or by emailing or calling the customer services team, which will then be posted out to them ahead of their journey. In addition, passengers who have not pre-requested a lanyard can collect one at check-in or at the reception desk onboard the ships.

Michaela Mullen, Head of Brand and Customer Experience at P&O Ferries, commented, “We’re delighted officially to launch the sunflower lanyard scheme across our North Sea routes. It has been fantastic to work with RNIB to introduce the initiative and we are proud to be the first to do so within the maritime industry. We are fully committed to providing accessible travel for all and we hope that the introduction of the sunflower lanyards will provide an extra layer of reassurance to passengers with hidden disabilities, as well as their families.”

Marc Powell, Strategic Relationship Executive at RNIB, which supports the sunflower lanyard scheme, added, “It’s great to see P&O Ferries adopt this initiative and lead by example within the maritime industry. For those with a hidden disability, such as a vision impairment, travelling can sometimes be a stressful experience. Now, by offering the sunflower lanyards as an option, P&O Ferries is helping to alleviate some of this pressure, which will provide added reassurance and an important confidence boost for blind and partially sighted people while they are on their travels.

“These lanyards are now widely recognised by organisations across the UK, so once a passenger has picked one up, they can keep hold of it, safe in the knowledge that others will understand and act on what it represents.”

Passengers can find more information about the sunflower lanyard scheme on P&O Ferries’ website, as well as at the ports it operates from and onboard its ships. P&O Ferries expects to rollout the scheme across all of its routes by summer 2020.

For more information about P&O Ferries, visit www.poferries.com.