Blooming great! Whitbread marks occasion by signing up to Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

To mark this year’s Purple Tuesday (Tuesday, November 01) - the movement striving to improve customer experience for disabled people and their families year-round - hospitality sector sponsor Whitbread today reveals it is committing to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.

The pledge is part of Whitbread’s diversity and inclusion programme under its Force for Good corporate social responsibility scheme which commits to creating opportunities for teams and guests, giving back to local communities and operating responsibly. 

The UK’s biggest hospitality company Whitbread, which welcomes millions of guests into its Premier Inn hotels and restaurant brands including Beefeater and Brewers Fayre every month, is signing up to the Sunflower.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower aims is to raise awareness of the daily challenges faced by individuals who live with an invisible disability and provides support and training opportunities to individuals and organisations. The Sunflower initiative was launched in the UK in 2016 as a symbol to discreetly indicate to people around the wearer that they have an invisible disability and may need additional support, understanding or a little more time.

Since the Sunflower was established in the UK it has been adopted globally by organisations to support their colleagues and customers. The Sunflower is recognised across a broad range of sectors - ranging from retail, financial services, transport including over 140 airports, travel and tourism, education as well as healthcare, emergency service and entertainment.

Recognising that without a visual cue, it can be difficult for people - including those working in hospitality - to identify, acknowledge, or understand the daily barriers faced by people living with an invisible disability, the Sunflower cleverly allows guests to choose to wear a lanyard featuring the Sunflower logo to indicate they may need extra assistance.

Non-visible disabilities can be physical, mental or neurological and include, but are not limited to, autism, cognitive impairments such as learning difficulties and dementia, as well as mental health conditions, speech, visual impairments or hearing loss. They also include respiratory and chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, chronic pain and even sleep disorders.

In addition to delivering the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower training across its 30,000 team members to understand and recognise the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, Whitbread will also be displaying information in its hotels and restaurants across the UK, showing it is a ‘Sunflower-friendly’ business. 

Simon Ewins, Managing Director for Premier Inn and Restaurants and the Executive Sponsor for Disability Inclusion:

“We are delighted be the hospitality sector sponsor for Purple Tuesday and launch the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower in our hotels and restaurants across the UK. We’re proud to welcome millions of disabled customers, as well as people with long-term health conditions, to our hotels and restaurants across the UK every year. True inclusion never stands still – it’s a commitment that continually evolves and we are always looking for ways to improve our guest experience, which is why we’re so proud to be part of the global network. As an inclusive employer we also know it’s an initiative that will inspire our team members, some of course who themselves have disabilities, and we are therefore really looking forward to getting our restaurants teams as well as our very own ‘purple people’ behind Purple Tuesday both on the day itself and year-round.’

Mike Adams OBE, CEO, Purple and creator of Purple Tuesday said:

We are proud to have welcomed Whitbread as the Purple Tuesday UK Hospitality Partner, working together to influence positive changes for disabled customers and their families across the industry. Disabled people deserve to have seamless and quality customer experiences like everyone else and through commitments to improve accessibility and practices from organisations like Whitbread we will start to see this become the norm.  We look forward to building a long-term relationship with Whitbread and their staff to enhance the experiences of all disabled customers that access their hotels and restaurants.”

Paul White, CEO, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower quote

“We are delighted that Whitbread have joined the global Hidden Disabilities Sunflower network and have trained 30,000 employees to support Sunflower wearers in their many hotels and restaurants. Our goal is simply to improve the everyday experiences for people with non-visible disabilities, ensuring that they have an end-to-end journey when wearing the Sunflower be it for work or leisure. Visitors and guests can feel confident that they will be met with kindness, understanding and patience when dining or enjoying a night at any one of the 800+ Premier Inn hotels.”

Learn more about Whitbread.

Is your organisation a member of the Sunflower network?

Is your place of work Sunflower friendly? If not, why not suggest they look into becoming members of the Sunflower? We provide training and assistance to help businesses recognise the Sunflower to support individuals with non-visible disabilities and become confident in providing them with additional help or assistance.

Join an impressive network of organisations so our Sunflower wearers can find you as they plan their days out:

  • add your location to the Sunflower location map
  • provide details useful for Sunflower-friendly visits
  • demonstrate how accessible you are
  • tell your story through articles
  • and even reveal your Sunflower-friendly events

Become a member of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower network.