Raising awareness of hidden disabilities in Sutton

Published:
04 Dec 2023

Sutton Council is proud to announce that it has joined the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower programme, 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, and how people without one can help people with one.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard or badge is a simple tool that allows someone with an invisible disability to show that the wearer may sometimes need extra help, understanding, or just needs a bit more time. Examples of a hidden, or non visible disability could be autism, mental health, acquired/traumatic brain injury, sensory processing, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, partial sight or hearing loss.

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 staff could share their own stories, and why raising awareness of non-visible disabilities is so important to them.

Linda Morbin, from the Sutton Parent Carer Forum, said: “We want to make society more inclusive, and more supportive. A community is not a community if everybody’s not included in it.”

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 all people with hidden disabilities are listened to.

“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 our services more responsive to people with non visible 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 a best-in-practice example of the reality for families and how the Sunflower can provide support.”

Residents with an invisible disability can pick up a free Sunflower lanyard at Sutton Council’s civic office as well as 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, recognise Sunflower wearers and are able to offer them additional support, patience, understanding and kindness. 

Watch the Sutton Parent Carer Forum Hidden Disabilities Sunflower film on their YouTube channel.

For more information about the Sunflower, please visit hdsunflower.com 
 

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