Sunflower Hidden Disability Scheme

Update 11.8.2021

The London Borough of Sutton have provided funding for us to make a film to promote the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme in our Sutton Community.

Our story starts with meeting people with hidden disabilities, learning of the challenges they may face when their disability is not understood and finally hearing hearing how wearing the Sunflower lanyard may help.

If you are aged 14 or over and have a hidden disability, please complete our short survey to help us with this project

The Hidden Disability Sunflower Scheme was founded in 2016 and has now been adopted globally by airports, many supermarkets, railway and coach stations, leisure facilities, some NHS settings and emergency services, as well as an increasing number of large businesses and organisations. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower (

On 25th January 2021, our Steering Group presented a paper to the Health and Wellbeing Board, chaired by Councillor Ruth Dombey, asking the Council and their partners to sign up to the Hidden Disabilities Scheme and ensure all their staff are trained accordingly.  We also asked Health to commit to training their staff especially those at the Covid 19 vaccination centres.  We are thrilled to report that the Council and Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group agreed to sign up to this and we will keep you updated with progress.

This scheme is so important to making the lives of people with hidden disabilities and their families easier to manage. We know lots of our families have children and young people with hidden disabilities and this discrete symbol is a helpful way for them to receive appropriate support. 

Here is a short film explaining the NHS and Hidden Disabilities vaccine rollout and here is a clip explaining the sunflower lanyard


Parent carers in Sutton have shared various ways wearing their Sunflower Lanyard has helped them:

  • In the past travelling through an airport has helped a lot, particularly going through security where staff recognised my child wouldn’t follow verbal instructions and would need support from me. They directed me to ask my child what to do rather than speak directly to them increasing their anxiety.
  • I use mine at the shops to let staff know in Sainsbury’s that my daughter needs to accompany me into a shop and cannot be left on her own. I have never have to explain.  
  •  My daughter had an epileptic seizure in a shop which was not obvious to others, but it caused her to become distressed and agitated. A member of staff approached and asked if we needed support and told me that she would look after my shopping if I wanted to take her to sit down for a while.
  •  Just seeing a sunflower lanyard poster in a window automatically makes me feel less anxious about approaching staff if I need help.
  •  My Son became very anxious on  crossing a busy street. He panicked and my husband and I needed to keep him safe immediately, so needed to restrain him from running. A member of the public approached as he was concerned about what was going on and I could tell he thought we were causing the distress. I pointed out the lanyard and I could tell instantly that he was someone who knew what it meant, as he stopped and put his hand up to say that he understood.
  •  When queueing in a store at a check-out with my son, he finds it hard to stand still and will move about a lot. Staff who recognise the lanyard in the store understand that my son needs extra space.
  • I wear a lanyard as I can’t wear a face mask. It has a card on it saying I am exempt as I have a hidden disability.
  •  I use the lanyard when I take my daughter for Hospital appointments. Staff know that my daughter may need a little more time to follow an instruction. People are more tolerant when she wears it.