A scheme to assist passengers with hidden disabilities who may require additional support has been introduced by Southend airport.

Blue wristbands will be available from December 4 for passengers with hidden disabilities and their families to wear as a “subtle sign” to airport staff that additional support or help may be required.

Southend has consulted local and national charities and monitored the success of similar voluntary schemes at other UK airports.

Glyn Jones, chief executive of airport operator Stobart Aviation, said: “We wholly recognise that for some of our customers the airport itself can be a challenging environment.

“When you have a hidden disability, such as autism, dementia or are sight or hearing-impaired, the unfamiliar, bustling and occasionally noisy surroundings can become a little overwhelming.

“We want to support every passenger as best we can and I hope that these blue bands will play a big part in delivering on that commitment.”

Key staff have been trained to ensure they can play their part in making sure that people with hidden disabilities enjoy a stress-free airport experience.

Jones said: “From check-in to departure gate we are now able to provide even greater assistance and understanding for passengers with a range of needs.

“This may involve giving a passenger more time to process information such as requests for documentation, or preparing themselves for security.

“Staff will be using clear speech and explaining to these passengers what to expect as they travel through the airport.

“It is important to state that the wristbands are being offered to passengers and their family/carers on a purely voluntary basis and are completely free. Customers who require assistance are also always welcome to approach a member of staff who will be happy to assist.”