International Day of People with Disabilities is a day when the world comes together to celebrate people with disabilities and to highlight the importance of creating a future where they experience equal opportunity and face no barriers in all aspects of their lives. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is here every day of the year to support those living with invisible disabilities in their communities by raising awareness, training businesses and organisations and sharing stories to help create a more inclusive, understanding society for people with invisible disabilities.

Here are a few highlights of how the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower has been supporting people with invisible disabilities over the last year from each of our regions and how we continue to support Hidden Disabilities Sunflower wearers every day:

Paul White, CEO of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, comments: "Our goal, both in the UK and globally, is to continue to raise awareness of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower so that our wearers can travel and plan their days out in the knowledge that they will be recognised and supported. There is a significant opportunity for businesses and organisations globally to develop their awareness of invisible disabilities and the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is a great catalyst to drive change. " 

The United Kingdom and globally

2021 has seen a record number of businesses from every sector in the UK joining and recognising the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower to support their colleagues and customers - ranging from retail, travel and tourism, universities, schools and colleges, the NHS, central and local government agencies to premiership football teams, theatres and financial institutions.

As the UK started to emerge from the lockdown in the summer, the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower gave confidence to our wearers that they would receive the extra time, support and understanding they may require when they went about their daily life.

A global presence

Currently, over 100 airports globally have launched and recognise the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. With many more joining, this will ensure every passenger with invisible disabilities that travels through these airports will receive the same, seamless experience that enables them to continue to travel  to visit family and friends and to carry out business trips.

Ruth Rabet, Business Development Director, says: "The feedback we receive from our wearers telling us what a difference wearing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower means to them is why the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is so important to me, each person it helps means that we are making a difference."

Outside the UK, businesses in countries like France, Norway and Lithuania have recently introduced the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower to raise awareness for people with invisible disabilities and notably in the United Arab Emirates, where the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is being used to help to make World Expo 2020 inclusive and accessible to all visitors.

Australia & New Zealand 

The last two years have been an extraordinarily tough time for Australians and New Zealanders. Coming out of the bushfires and into the Covid pandemic – living with the impact of a succession of lockdowns with some cities and states only now opening to a new normal. People living with disability (visible or non-visible) need accessibility and support to return to community events, day-to-day routines and basic requirements.

Over the past year, Bayley House, our Hidden Disabilities Sunflower partner in Australia and New Zealand, have cultivated peak body partners to endorse the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and have been excited to welcome numerous organisations as Hidden Disabilities Sunflower members across all sectors. Some of these new members include the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Go Tafe, Gold Coast Hospital, Australian National Maritime Museum, Queenstown Airport, Art Gallery of NSW, New Zealand Parliament, RAC Arena, KPMG NZ, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences just to name a few.

In 2022, they are planning to launch the new updated Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website offering our members greater access to knowledge, training and connection in 2022.

Sandee Facy, who represent the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower at Bayley House, says: “A highlight for me personally is seeing the full circle of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower eco-system and how it impacts Bayley House and our clients. As part of their skill development in employment training, the Bayley House clients with intellectual disabilities enjoy packing orders for Hidden Disabilities Sunflower customers and managing the inventory. I believe in serving a purpose that impacts lives daily & the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower has a huge impact empowering people with hidden disabilities and providing an easier, more comfortable approach to everyday challenges that may occur for some.”

Justin Bruce, Marketing General Manager, Bayley House comments, ““One person and one business at a time we are working towards a community that moves beyond accepting into celebrating differences to ensure inclusion and contribution for all.”

Warwick Cavanagh, CEO of Bayley House states, “I love that the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme is all about community; helping people with disabilities access mainstream services and in doing so helping the broader community to appreciate the skills which people with disabilities have to offer!”


The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower launched earlier this year in Denmark with LEGO House paving the way for other Danish companies to join the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. LEGO House joined the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower to ensure that people with invisible disabilities and their families have a good experience when they visit them as visiting tourist attractions may be challenging for some people with an invisible disability,

Stine Ringvig Marsal, Regional Director in Denmark, introduced the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower at Copenhagen Airport, Stine ensures that Danish companies and organisations that want to join the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, have a local contact person who can advise on how to become part of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme.

Since its launch in Denmark, the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower has been adopted by Givskud Zoo, the Brain Injury association and Hotel Koldingfjord. 


Earlier this week the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower launched in Ireland. People with non-visible disabilities will have easier access to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and be increasingly supported as more businesses and organisations throughout the region start to recognise the Hidden Disabilities.

Across Ireland, 1 in 5 people live with some form of disability and 80% of these are non-visible. That’s just under 1 million people. There have been many local schemes established to provide support for these people however we recognise that people travel widely and still need help and support away from home. With a local representative, reduced postage costs and a dedicated, country specific website, we are better equipped to support both our Hidden Disabilities Sunflower wearers and the organisations that support the initiative in this area. 

Tristan Casson-Rennie, Regional Director in Ireland, explains: “As a family that enjoys travelling it was always very frustrating for me that the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard was recognised around the world, however, didn’t have a strong presence across Ireland. Some airports in Ireland have designed their own unique scheme - which is fine for the start of the journey, but totally worthless when arriving in the destination! 

Wearing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard removes Jacob’s stress when we go through airport security. The staff seek out people who wear the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and immediately provide one to one support. My aim is to ensure that this level of support and recognition is replicated across all public transport networks, shops, healthcare settings, sports facilities and places of education throughout Ireland. Supporting people with invisible disabilities wherever they choose to be. ”

With Tristan based in Ireland, we are now able to focus on raising awareness across Ireland and promoting the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower throughout travel & tourism, retail, education, sport, welfare and healthcare.

The Netherlands & Belgium 

Hidden Disabilities Sunflower officially launched in the Netherlands and Belgium on 1 March 2021. Prior to this, the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower was only recognised in the Netherlands at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport where it had been introduced in 2019.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower introduced during a difficult period when Covid-19 restrictions were in place across both the Netherlands and Belgium and many museums and attractions were closed. Regardless, we were still able to appoint around 70 businesses and organisation that now recognise the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, including museums, public transport networks, attractions, supermarkets, city councils, all Dutch airports, KLM Dutch Airlines, colleges, and many others.  The number of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower wearers across Belgium and the Netherlands continues to increase weekly.

One of the most memorable Hidden Disabilities Sunflower wearers' stories came from a family who were waiting at the airport with their autistic son. “ Wearing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard made a huge difference; we started our holiday for the first time relaxed. Thanks, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower for making our life easier”.


The introduction of the KLM Cabin Staff initiative was one highlight from the last year. KLM flight attendants now take Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyards on board their aircraft, in case a passenger with a hidden disability is on board and would like to wear one.

Kees Hoekstra, Regional Director in the Netherlands and Belgium, comments: "For the coming year, we will continue to increase awareness of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and appoint more businesses and organisations that recognise the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower across both regions.”

USA & Canada 

During 2021, awareness of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower has continued to grow across North American where it has been adopted by 35 US and three Canadian airports. The US airports have formed a Hidden Disabilities Sunflower group that shares ideas on how to implement, train, and distribute the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower to travellers. We're delighted to announce that Jet Blue airlines is the first US based airline to purchase and support the program with a full roll-out planned during the first quarter of 2022.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower supports both customers and colleagues within organisations. For instance, in Pennsylvania, an Amazon fulfilment centre now supports their employees with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.

The US also has three Hidden Disabilities Sunflower friendly US cities: Visit Mesa AZ, Visit Visalia CA, and Visit Vacaville, CA. In these cities, the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is distributed at the visitor centre and select local shops and is recognised at hotels, museums, attractions and parks.

Hidden Disabilities Sunflower day

On 28 June, we celebrated Hidden Disabilities Sunflower day working with 'But You Don’t Look Sick'. As part of this day, we held a #SupportTheSunflower contest for people to interpret what the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower means to them. We also developed a Hidden Disabilities Sunflower frame for anyone who wanted to show their support for the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower to add to their social media profile across Facebook and Instagram. 

Travelability Summit

In August, we had the privilege of presenting  the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program to all attendees at the Travelability Summit in Tampa, an event that showcases the most innovative technology, products and services that make travel easier for people with disabilities. The Summit was amazing, showcasing many innovators in accessible travel and holding informative panel discussions about traveling with disabilities, both visible and invisible.

Lynn Smith, our North American program director, says:  "As the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower continues to grow in North America, and I talk to so many people that the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower has helped, I realise this is not only a powerful symbol, it is a community.”