Thirty-three libraries, run by the charity Libraries Unlimited, have joined to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.

This means that people with less visible or invisible disabilities will be given an extra warm welcome and any additional help they need in libraries across Devon and Torbay.

The Sunflower is a globally recognised symbol for non-visible disabilities. These include autism, chronic pain and learning difficulties as well as mental health conditions, mobility issues, speech impairments and sensory loss such sight loss, hearing loss or deafness. Respiratory conditions as well as chronic conditions such as diabetes, chronic pain and sleep disorders that significantly impact day-to-day life, are also included.

Totnes Library Supervisor Eve Ashton, who’s been working on implementing the scheme throughout Devon, said:

“People living with hidden disabilities often face barriers in their daily lives including a lack of understanding and negative attitudes. Choosing to wear the Sunflower lanyard discreetly identifies that the wearer may need support, help, or just a little more time in shops, transport, or public spaces.”

“Our library staff are already offering help and support to customers with hidden disabilities – many are regular visitors, coming in to our libraries weekly or sometimes even daily to use a range of the many services that we offer. This is just a way of formalising that existing support, and also saying to other people with non-visible disabilities that if they would like to visit us to use our many services their needs will be met with understanding, patience and extra assistance. We’re hoping to expand the scheme to all 54 library buildings around Devon and Torbay in the near future.”


Paul White, CEO, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower said

“We are delighted that Libraries Unlimited have joined the ever-growing Hidden Disabilities Sunflower network. Libraries are such an important part of the community offering wide reaching services they are an essential hub for all.

Sunflower wearers will feel confident that when they visit they will be supported with kindness, patience and understanding by library staff who have received our training.”

From June, library staff will be wearing I Support Sunflower lanyards to show that they recognise the Sunflower and are ready to help. Library customers can also buy them with the money raised going to Libraries Unlimited to support libraries. Signs and information about the Sunflower will be displayed around libraries and they will have an official listing on the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.

The 33 libraries where the Sunflower will be implemented are: Axminster, Barnstaple, Bideford, Bovey Tracey, Braunton, Budleigh Salterton, Crediton, Cullompton, Dartmouth, Dawlish, Exeter, Exmouth, Holsworthy, Honiton, Ilfracombe, Ivybridge, Kingsbridge, Kingsteignton, Newton Abbot, Northam, Okehampton, Ottery St Mary, Paignton, Seaton, Sidmouth, South Molton, St Thomas, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Tiverton, Torquay, Torrington and Totnes.

Learn more about Libraries Unlimited