We are thrilled to announce that the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower has today launched in the Netherlands and Belgium, our first Sunflower operation in mainland Europe.

This means that people living with a hidden disability in these regions will now have easier access to the Sunflower. With both a local representative and a dedicated, country specific website, which can be accessed in Dutch, we are better equipped to support both our Sunflower wearers and the organisations that support the initiative in these areas.

Our new Dutch team member, Kees Hoekstra, previously worked for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. During his time there, Kees worked on several projects for people with ASD. The most notable being “Flying with autism”, an award-winning project to improve the procedures both at airports and within airlines for people with autism.

Five airports across the Netherlands, including the major international hub Schiphol, are already welcoming Sunflower wearers with colleagues trained to recognise the lanyard. Other locations within the region that have adopted the Sunflower include: supermarkets (Plus, Deka Markt, Lidl), transport networks (Connexxion, Belgium railways, Transdev, Arriva), Government agencies (COVID-19 test centres) and entertainment venues (Van Gogh Museum, Zoo Parc). A full list of where the Sunflower is recognised in these regions is available on the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower location map: https://hiddendisabilitiesstore.com/nl/find-the-sunflower

Paul White, CEO, said: “We are really excited to be launching the Sunflower in Belgium and Holland. This expansion into mainland Europe is a progressive step in both generating greater global awareness of the scheme but also making the Sunflower more accessible for those living with a hidden disability in these regions. As part of this venture, we will provide our Sunflower training and products in Dutch as well as opening an online Belgium and Netherlands Sunflower store.”

Kees Hoekstra sales representative for the Netherlands and Belgium said: “I am excited to introduce the Sunflower Scheme into Holland and Belgium. It will improve the quality of life for a big group of people with a hidden disability in both countries. More locations where the Sunflower will be recognised will be added in the coming months.”

We're excited to welcome Kees to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower team and can't wait to see how the Sunflower initiative embeds in mainland Europe.