CHARITY HIGHLIGHT: The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Project

Last year Wealden District Council teamed up with Wealden Dementia Action Alliance on a project to help people in the district who live with hidden disabilities. The project is called ‘The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Project’ and is aimed at helping those with hidden disabilities feel more confident when out in the local community.

There are many people in the Wealden area who live with the type of disabilities that are not always obvious to others. This can result in those people struggling in certain situations that most of us take for granted. This could include people living with dementia or poor mental health as well as those who suffer from difficulties with mobility, hearing or visual impairments. Other hidden disabilities include asthma and other lung conditions as well as chronic conditions such as renal failure, diabetes and sleep disorders. These conditions affect each person differently and can cause the sufferer much distress if they get into difficulties while out alone. Without the obvious signs it isn’t always possible for others to be aware that there is a problem. With the added stress of social distancing, it can make it very difficult for people to acknowledge and know whether somebody needs help. Life has become difficult for everybody during the Covid-19 pandemic but for those suffering from any sort of disability it is a lot worse. For those people who have been self-isolating getting out and about again, once restrictions allow, could be a daunting prospect. It is hoped that this project will give those who need it the confidence to get out into the community and start to live a more normal life once the pandemic is under control. 

‘The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Project’ aims to offer help to all those who need it. The project was launched in 2016 at Gatwick Airport. They wanted a way to identify passengers in need of support due to a disability that is not obvious. A lanyard displaying a sunflower on a green background was designed to enable staff to identify those who needed help when moving through the airport. The idea received such a positive response it then moved to all UK national airports and has since been taken up by many international airports as well as UK supermarkets and many other businesses. By 2019 over 2 million lanyards had been distributed globally and training videos were released in 2020 to help staff at those businesses taking part to recognise and respond when they see someone wearing the sunflower lanyard. All businesses taking part are required to distribute the lanyards free of charge and anyone with any type of hidden disability can qualify to wear one.

The sunflower was chosen on the green background as a distinctive and uplifting image that can be recognised not only closeup but also from a distance. 

If you, or someone you know, would benefit from wearing a sunflower lanyard, they can now be obtained free of charge from Crowborough Town Council offices on Pine Grove, or you can call 01323 652907 or contact Wealden District Council 01323 443322. 

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