Sunflower scheme

Andy Rotherham

The Waterside Theatre has announced its support of the Sunflower Lanyard scheme as part of its commitment to accessibility and theatre for all. Launching to coincide with the recent Learning Disability Week, the sunflower lanyards are an initiative enabling those with a hidden disability who may require additional help to be easily recognised and assisted as needed.

Following a social media post in April highlighting the theatre’s relaxed performances as part of Autism Awareness Week, a patron came forward with feedback on how customer experience could be improved for those living with autism.

Andy Rotherham (pictured) of Aylesbury mentioned the sunflower scheme and also how the theatre could benefit from having quiet areas for customers needing a quiet space pre-show and during the interval. As well as implementing the lanyard initiative, which signals to theatre staff that a customer has a hidden disability, enabling appropriate care and support, furniture has been moved in the venue to allow for two quieter breakout areas in Circle 2 and on the Promenade to be utilised.

Mr Rotherham said: ‘As an autistic adult I find some aspects of theatre visits uncomfortable and challenging. I am so pleased that following a social media post by myself the team at the Waterside Theatre were quick to invite me in to talk about how they could improve the theatre experience for autistic people of all ages.

‘We were able to work out some simple and low-cost measures that will make a huge difference. The Waterside Theatre is a wonderful venue, and the team behind it are a real credit to their company. My hope is that through seeing this other businesses in the town take note and work to make their business fully inclusive, too’.

In the UK 700,000 people live with autism, one million have learning disabilities, 850,000 have dementia and 11 million people have some sort of hearing loss.

Hidden disabilities include dementia, autism, learning disabilities, anxiety issues, mental health impairments and hearing loss. The lanyard scheme is already being used in airports including Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Inverness, as well as in supermarkets, Sainsburys and the Co-op.

For further information and to book for access performances, visit Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office, or call the Freephone Access Booking Line on 0800 912 6971.

Andy Rotherham: ‘The Waterside is a wonderful venue and the team behind it are a real credit to their company.’

June 24, 2019