Hidden disabilities scheme backed by West Sussex councillors

West Sussex County Council has pledged to do its bit to help people with hidden disabilities by recognising the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme.

Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 12:10 pm

The scheme, which was launched at Gatwick Airport in 2016, provides green lanyards dotted with sunflowers to people with hidden disabilities such as autism and lung conditions.

It acts as a discreet way of letting others know they may need extra help or understanding.

At a meeting of the full council on Friday (December 11), members gave unanimous approval to a motion tabled by David Edwards (Con, Bersted), who laid out the importance of the scheme and the positive impact it had had on others.

Bersted county councillor David Edwards

Mr Edwards, who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, told the meeting that the scheme had been adopted by airports around the world as well as supermarkets, leisure centres and the NHS.

He added: “Hidden disabilities can make people’s lives particularly challenging, painful or isolating.

“By wearing a sunflower lanyard, badge or wristband, some one is indicating they have a hidden disability and may find certain situations difficult or stressful, causing them to act differently.”

Paul High (Con, Worthing West) shared his own experience of the scheme, saying his 10-year-old son wore one and it ‘works perfectly and has been of great benefit to him’.

He added: “It’s been such a help to children and parents of children who have challenges in their life.”

The wording of the motion was amended by Amanda Jupp (Con, Billingshurst) to a version that was seen by some to make it weaker and watered-down.

She included terms such as ‘where possible’ and ‘it would be good if’, which prompted Liberal Democrat leader Dr James Walsh to say: “If we believe in something we should promote it – not ‘where possible’.”

Mr Edwards, though, accepted the amendment and it was voted through.

He said: “The success of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and the positive response it has received, has increased awareness of challenges adults and children with hidden disabilities can face.

“Hidden Disabilities Sunflower wearers now benefit more widely from help being offered to make their daily living a little easier.

“It is no over-statement to say it has changed lives.”

More details about the scheme can be found at hiddendisabilitiesstore.com