The Sunflower is simply to demonstrate that a person has an invisible disability and may need some extra time, care or support from the community around them. It is not here to demonstrate that a person is face covering exempt.
We created the face covering exempt card in collaboration with the UK rail network due to the abuse, both verbal and physical, that a number of people, whose health conditions meant they couldn’t wear a face covering, were receiving. It is worth considering that in the UK, 1 in 5 people are disabled and 80% of these people have a non-obvious disability. That is over 10 million people in the UK who could choose to wear the Sunflower to indicate that they may need some support. Of these, there will be a number who are legitimately exempt from wearing a face covering. A recent survey we put out to the Sunflower community suggests that 68% of Sunflower wearers were unable to wear a face covering, 15% could only wear one occasionally and that 80% said that showing an exempt card made them more confident going into an environment where a face covering is required. So, while the face covering rules are still with us, we will continue to support those people with a disability who cannot wear a face covering when going about their daily lives, against the backdrop of the mandatory wearing of face coverings.
We in no way condone the misuse of the Sunflower and find it distressing when it is being misused. Training is provided to all businesses and organisations who adopt the Sunflower and this training focusses on the purpose of the Sunflower and its meaning to the wearer, as well as how to support and approach people wearing the Sunflower. We encourage everyone to follow the Government’s guidelines to wear face coverings where required. But if someone is exempt from wearing a face covering for reasons that are not related to living with a disability, they should NOT use the Sunflower face covering exempt card to demonstrate this. Instead, there are FREE to download cards for anyone who is exempt provided by the UK Government on their website here.