Sutton Council has joined Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, as part of its ambition to create a more inclusive borough for all. Globally, 1 in 6 people live with a disability. Of those, 80% are invisible - or 1.3 billion people across the world are living with a non-visible disability.
The global Sunflower network aims to raise awareness of non-visible disabilities. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard or badge is a simple tool that allows someone with an invisible disability to indicate that they may need extra help, understanding, or just more time.
The Council is working with the Sutton Parent Carer Forum to raise awareness of non-visible disabilities and how best to support people of all abilities. They recently created a powerful film about special educational needs and disabilities and how sometimes a disability is not always obvious. The film was shown to Sutton Council staff at the launch event, where parents, carers and staff could share their own stories about living with a disability, and why raising awareness of hidden disabilities is so important to them.
Councillor Marian James, Chair of People Committee, said:
“I am delighted that we have joined the Sunflower network. Part of our corporate plan is to make Sutton a more inclusive borough for everyone. We are working hard to ensure that people who have learning disabilities are listened to. As part of this work we held our first Learning Disabilities Conference earlier in the year, where adults and young people with learning disabilities, and their families and carers, were able to talk about what life is really like for them in Sutton and to give suggestions and ideas to the council on how to make improvements.
Raising awareness of hidden disabilities and providing some tools for both residents and staff to help people with a hidden disability is another key part of making their services more responsive to people with learning disabilities.
Paul White, CEO Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, said:
"It is essential that councils such as Sutton cultivate inclusive communities, supporting everyone who needs it. Becoming part of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower network is an effective way to achieve that. All staff receive our training which means that they become aware of the wide variety of non-visible disabilities which exist and, importantly, recognise Sunflower wearers and offer them additional support, patience, understanding and kindness. The video Sutton Parent Carer Forum created is an example of the reality for families and how the Sunflower can provide support.”
Residents with a non-visible disability can pick up a free Sunflower lanyard at Sutton Council’s civic office and the Central Library located next door.
All staff will be actively encouraged to take the hidden disabilities training, which means that they become aware of the wide variety of non-visible disabilities which exist and, importantly, and offer those wearing the Sunflower additional support, patience, understanding and kindness.