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We’ve joined the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme

Wellness Service Manager Sarah Button has told how we are helping to raise awareness of hidden disabilities, and it’s all thanks to her ‘inspirational’ eight-year-old.

Sarah said her son James wears a Hidden Disabilities lanyard when out, as he has autism and this helps inform others.

She has been so impressed with the benefits this lanyard brings for her boy that she applied for our Feel the Difference grant, so that the scheme can be adopted across our services in Bath and North East Somerset.

Now, as part of World Alzheimer’s Month this September, colleagues and service users in BaNES have been provided with the lanyards, which were distributed earlier this week.

Sarah said, “My 8-year-old son James has autism, and he uses a sunflower lanyard when we go out shopping, or out for the day.

James’ strength inspires me every day, and seeing the benefits the scheme has had for him pushed me to apply for the Feel The Difference grant and get funding to introduce the wonderful scheme in our organisation.”

The lanyards are a subtle symbol that is universally recognised and allows others to identify that the wearer (or someone with them) may require some extra help, time, or assistance.

The aim is to improve the quality of life, increase people’s awareness of disability and to remove discrimination. The sunflower lanyards allow an individual with a hidden disability to choose to be visible.

We are supporting the scheme across our health and care services in BaNES, and have used the Feel The Difference grant to fund the initial purchase of 500 sunflower lanyards to distribute to our staff and service users.

The Feel the Difference grant is a £100,000 a year fund and employees can apply for part of this money if they have an idea that will create a better experience for patients and service users.

Sarah added, “People living with hidden disabilities face daily challenges that can be difficult for others to identify, acknowledge, or understand, so raising awareness about the stigma surrounding this is something we feel strongly about.

“By using funding from our Feel The Difference grant, we are able to support and promote this amazing scheme across our services, and create an inclusive environment where everyone is appreciated and respected.

It’s important to us at Virgin Care that we support one another, and challenging preconceived ideas around hidden disabilities will promote positive change.”

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower was designed and launched in 2016 as a way for others to recognise those with disabilities that may not be immediately obvious. More information is available here https://hiddendisabilitiesstore.com/about-hidden-disabilities-sunflower

Kirsty Matthews, Managing Director for Bath and North East Somerset said, “I’m thrilled that our services in BaNES are moving to support the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, and distribute lanyards to our affected service users whose day to day lives are significantly impacted.

This scheme will make it easier for others to acknowledge the challenges that these individuals face, and be more supportive and understanding as a result.”

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