Variety - the Children’s Charity, one of Ireland’s largest and oldest charities announced the launch of their partnership with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower today at the spectacular Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is a simple tool for people to voluntarily share that they have a disability or condition that may not be immediately apparent – and that the person may need a helping hand, understanding, or a little more time in shops, at work, on transport, or in public spaces.

Variety Ireland provides direct help to children and young people throughout the 32 counties of Ireland up to their 19th birthday who are living with illness, disability or financial disadvantage. The Charity will step in where statutory healthcare, support and funding end to ensure that children have the support they need to reach their potential and thrive, regardless of their health, mobility, abilities and economic background.

Working together, Variety and the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower want to raise awareness of non-visible disabilities amongst children in Ireland. It is really important to recognise that there are well over 850 different non-visible disabilities, and not all of these originate from birth. Some are acquired as children grow and develop, and others are as a result of illness or injury. Variety Ireland recognises all types of disability, and so it was really important to the team at Variety to partner with an organisation that shared its inclusive values.

Derek O’Neill, CEO of Variety Ireland said,

“We at Variety are delighted to be the first children’s charity in Ireland to join the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. As a volunteer-run charity with over 70 years of experience in providing assistance and help to children from right across the disability spectrum, we feel the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is an easy and un-intrusive approach to helping children with disabilities who may need that little bit of extra help and assistance as they go about their daily lives. We are really happy to have the support of Minister Anne Rabbitte today here at the Cliffs of Moher, as we announce this new partnership. Especially given the Minister’s own true understanding in recognising and genuinely wanting to help improve the lives of children with disabilities, and their families.

With many years experience of providing support and assistance to those with disabilities, it feels a very natural fit for Variety Children’s Charity to become the first Children’s Charity to join the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower in Ireland.” 

Paul White, CEO of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower said,

“It is great to be back in County Clare, and once again enjoying such fantastic hospitality and a spectacular view! I am very pleased to welcome Variety Children’s Charity to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. We know that children and their families who are helped by Variety staff and volunteers are given the best support and opportunities to overcome some of the challenges they face. Variety is the largest Children’s Charity in Ireland and we are keen to work together to ensure that children with all types of non-visible disabilities can wear the Sunflower, and will be assured of a helping hand, understanding or a little extra time wherever they are.” 

Tristan Casson-Rennie, Regional Director of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, Ireland & Northern Ireland said,

“I was thrilled to learn that Variety wanted to work in partnership with us here at the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower in Ireland. The entire Sunflower team in Ennis aspires to ensure that all children with non-visible disabilities are given help, understanding and more time if they need it, whether at school, visiting the shops or travelling on holiday. Our values are so well aligned with Variety Ireland, that it just made sense to work together with them.  I am grateful to Derek and Kevin from Variety Ireland, as well as Minister Anne Rabbitte, for making the journey across to our home in the Midwest, and giving us the opportunity to talk about our work at the Cliffs of Moher here today. I am particularly grateful to the Management Team at the Cliffs of Moher for letting us use their location.”  

Minister of State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD said,

 “I welcome the partnership of Variety Children’s Charity and the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower being announced here today at the spectacular Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. Variety is Ireland’s largest Children’s Charity and works tirelessly to help and support children with the challenges they face every day. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower alerts others to provide support, understanding or a little extra time to children with non-visible disabilities who choose to wear the Sunflower.

I am a huge supporter of disability organisations working together in partnership. Variety and the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower will really help to make a difference for the children and families they work with, and I support that wholeheartedly.”

The launch was welcomed by Anne Rabbitte TD, Minister of State for Disability, in the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. Also present was Derek O’Neill, CEO of Variety Ireland. Kevin O’Brien, Fundraising and Marketing Manager, Variety Ireland, Councillor Ann Norton, Deputy Mayor of Clare. Paul White, CEO of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. Tristan Casson-Rennie, Regional Director, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.

Become a Sunflower Member in five easy steps

  1. Log in to your business account or if you do not have one, register here.
  2. Choose and subscribe to the Sunflower Membership that works best for your business today (available in the memberships section of our online shop)
  3. Purchase Sunflower products to support your colleagues and customers with hidden disabilities
  4. Train your entire workforce using our Sunflower training videos*
  5. Launch and promote your Sunflower Membership to your community as well as the global Sunflower network*

*access restricted dependent on Sunflower Membership level