Shining a light on Hidden Disabilities
Certain people are exempt from wearing a face covering in public places. The list of exemptions, which has been in place since face coverings became mandatory, includes hidden conditions such as anxiety or panic disorders, autism, breathing difficulties, dementia, reduced vision or if you are with someone who relies on lip reading to communicate.
People are not required to prove they are exempt and it is for individuals to choose how they would want to communicate this to others. For those who would feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering, exemption cards are available to print or display on mobile phones from gov.uk. Or, you can wear a Hidden Disability Sunflower Lanyard.
What is a hidden disability?
Not all disabilities are visible – some are not immediately obvious, such as autism, chronic pain, dementia, anxiety, visual or hearing impairment, learning difficulties, mental health problems, as well as speech, visual or hearing impairments. They can also include mobility issues (arthritis, MS, ME, chronic illness), asthma, COPD, and other lung conditions as well as chronic illnesses such as renal failure and diabetes.
Living with a hidden disability can make daily life more demanding for many people, but it can be difficult for others to identify, acknowledge or understand the challenges they face. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard, card and wrist band raises awareness about hidden disabilities and discreetly indicates to people around the wearer that they need additional support, help or a little more time and understanding. If you are a Carer of someone who wears the sunflower lanyard, it should make your life a little bit easier and get extra help should you need it.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower does not entitle you to anything other than that you have a hidden disability and that you may need some assistance; it is NOT a pass to be fast-tracked nor for any other benefit.
How do I get a hidden disability sunflower lanyard?
There is no qualifying list of hidden disabilities. If you or the person you provide care for has a hidden disability and feel that you would benefit from wearing a Hidden Disabilities Sunflower product, please do.
Sunflower Lanyards are available free of charge to customers from businesses and organisations who are members of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. As some people may be unable to travel to collect a free Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard or would prefer to have them delivered, you can order them online here.
In Birmingham, the sunflower lanyards are available from the service desk at Argos, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Sainsburys, Birmingham New Street and Birmingham Airport. The full list where the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower recognised in Birmingham can be found here.