Published on: 7 January 2020

23 branches across Sussex and Essex will pilot new approach to make people more comfortable

We're trialling a range of measures in branches to make the experience as comfortable and convenient as possible for members living with hidden disabilities.

Across the UK, millions of people are living with a range of hidden disabilities – these include autism, chronic pain, mental health issues, learning difficulties and rheumatoid arthritis. Following a pilot in two branches for people with autism, we have extended the pilot to more branches and cover more disabilities.

The initiative is being piloted in 23 branches across Sussex and Essex. We’ll become the first financial services provider to support The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyards Scheme (opens in a new window). This is a way of employees visibly showing that they're there to support those with non-obvious disabilities.

To support these members, we'll be:

  • Supporting The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard Scheme: the national scheme helps members to self-identify that they have a hidden disability by wearing a lanyard. As well as having the lanyards available in the branches supporting the pilot, we'll also make stickers and pins available that members can place on their cards and/or passbook.
  • Creating quiet hours: during designated quiet periods, there will be less background noise and more office space available to create a more welcoming environment. This is particularly beneficial to members with conditions such as autism or head injuries as they may be more sensitive to sounds.
  • Training our teams: we’ll be offering increased training to allow our colleagues to identify and support members who may have a hidden disability.

Mandy Beech, Nationwide’s Director of Membership Propositions, said:

‘Many of our members are living with a hidden disability and just by making a few small changes, we can make our branches a more welcoming place for them. We're pleased to be supporting the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme, which will allow our members to self-identify that they may need additional help. At the same time, we'll also be increasing the training of our colleagues around hidden disabilities to ensure they're best placed to support all our members.’

Gemma Day, Branch Manager at Nationwide’s Braintree Branch, said:

‘My son, Lucas, has autism and following his diagnosis, I became passionate about how I could further support others who are living with a hidden disability. I’ve put much of what I've learned into practice at my branch, including having regular quiet hours and making maps of the branch so members with hidden disabilities and their families could prepare before their visit.’

Paul White from Hidden Disabilities said:

‘The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme are delighted to welcome Nationwide Building Society as the first financial services organisation to implement the scheme. The wearers of the Sunflower will now be safe in the knowledge that due time, care and patience will be offered while visiting your branches.’

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