Our Sunflower Friends are a team of passionate Sunflower wearers who spread the word about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and inspire people to support everyone living with non-visible disabilities. They can be found in our communities, both physically and online, in the workplace, on holiday and in the everyday places we all visit.
For many people, the Sunflower indicates the beginning of their journey to learning more about the many non-visible health conditions and how they can significantly impact people’s lives. The success of the Sunflower comes down to awareness. As well as the many businesses that join every week and train their entire workforce about what the Sunflower is, why someone may choose to wear it and how to interact with wearers - awareness is also driven by the Sunflower community, telling their friends and families, and sometimes strangers they meet who enquire ‘why are you wearing that?
Sunflower Friends have a keen passion to raise awareness of non-visible disabilities, access needs and acceptance. They represent the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower to promote the value the Sunflower has for those who chose to use it as well as to the wider community - making the invisible visible.
I am a full-time disabled and neurodivergent content creator. I use video creation to share my lived-in dyslexic and dyspraxic experience and shine a light on access issues within society. I've grown a community of 100k plus, and every video I share brings me commonality and connection. I am also an actor/ theatre maker and have received arts council funding to support the development of a show called 'dyslexia'.
The Sunflower lanyard plays a pivotal role in my disabled identity, and I'm super excited to be a part of Sunflower Friends and be a part of its development and movement.
My Sunflower Conversation
I have been dancing since the age of 4, and my favourite style has to be tap dancing! I love to travel, and during my university degree I studied abroad in Philadelphia, USA & worked abroad in Germany.
Why the Sunflower is important – As a keen traveller, and often solo traveller, the Sunflower gives me confidence when going through airport security and during flights. I am Type 1 Diabetic and I use an Insulin Pump and Freestyle Libre glucose sensors, both of which are attached to me 24/7, and often under my clothing and not visible. Airports are stressful enough on their own, so having the lanyard takes away the extra stress of travelling with medical equipment.
I hope to bring more awareness to the Sunflower on social media, especially to younger people and people with long-term medical conditions who do not realise the lanyard also supports them.
My Sunflower Conversation
I enjoy writing poetry, art and photography – basically anything where I can be creative. I am proud of my poem Don’t Judge What You Can’t See, which highlights and raises awareness of hidden disabilities. It was part of a campaign supported by Odd Arts and their women’s leadership programme.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is essential because it makes the invisible visible – the Sunflower ties in nicely with my campaign about not judging people. At first, I was wary about wearing it, but I realised what support it could be. I am pleased to be able to help promote and raise awareness.
I plan to incorporate the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower into my photography course project. I will be photographing people with non-visible disabilities, giving them a platform to show their beauty and raise awareness at the same time. I will also attend community fairs and markets to share the Sunflower, and I plan to get my college to become a member. I am looking forward to using my experience to speak about the importance of the Sunflower with companies and radio shows.
My Sunflower Conversation
What does a Sunflower Friend do?
Sunflower Friends keep the title for a year and meet with us approximately four times during that period. They are a sounding board for new ideas; they present different views and opinions and help shape our narrative in our ever-changing and evolving world.
They put the Sunflower to the test! by sharing their experiences of wearing it and the interactions they encounter – and that helps us to evolve our messaging and training to ensure that every Sunflower wearer is offered support, patience, understanding and kindness. If you are based in the UK and would d like to become a UK Sunflower Friend to inspire your community, please get in touch.
Learn, share and discover
Since 2016, we have been shining a light on hidden disabilities. First launched at Gatwick airport, the Sunflower has become a recognisable symbol for hidden disabilities and is where our journey began. Our ambition has always been to raise awareness of the many non-visible disabilities and health conditions which aren’t immediately apparent. We principally do this through our global Sunflower network - we introduce the Sunflower to companies and support them to train all their colleagues about the Sunflower so they can support their colleagues and customers living with non-visible disabilities.
Explore our website to find out how you can encourage support Sunflower wearers and individuals wanting to learn, share and discover more.
Our invisible disabilities index provides an overview of various health conditions and the support someone may need, along with signposting to relevant healthcare professionals and charities.
Discover Sunflower-friendly places is a one-stop map where you can find Sunflower-friendly places such as shops, restaurants and leisure centres in your area, review what their accessibility is like and how to find them.
The Sunflower Conversations is a hub where Sunflower wearers and healthcare experts share their experiences with us and offer pathways for support.