A range of organisations and businesses in Northwich have teamed up to help make the town more accessible for visitors by joining the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme.

Launched in 2016, the initiative provides a discreet way for people to signify that they have an invisible disability. By displaying the Sunflower it lets people know that the wearer, or someone with them, may require some extra help, time or assistance.

As funding partners, Northwich Business Improvement District, Northwich Town Council, Barons Quay and Rotary in Northwich have distributed stocks of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyards to participating shops, hospitality businesses, open public spaces and public buildings, allowing people with invisible disabilities to pick one up which they can use when out and about.

Some of the businesses taking part in the scheme include Northwich Library, Charlie’s Café, Kanya Bistro, Crafty Stitches, BEAR and Dante’s Boutique, with all involved also undertaking training to gain a better understanding of what an invisible disability is to enable staff to be confident to approach and support people who are wearing a Hidden Disabilities Sunflower product.

All businesses involved will display a Sunflower sticker in their window which will show people they’re participating.

Hidden disabilities lanyard
Hidden disabilities lanyards

As well as the lanyards and stickers, other initiatives are taking place to spread awareness of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme too.

This includes local schools taking part in a sunflower growing competition in collaboration with Northwich Town Council, and both Weigh of the World and Transition Northwich are helping to distribute sunflower seeds. People are encouraged to plant their own sunflowers at home before charting the progress through social media.

The announcement of the project getting underway this month also ties in with Transition Northwich’s ‘Sunflower Streets’ initiative, which invites people to grow and share sunflowers to help build connections across communities.

News of Northwich signing up to the scheme has been welcomed by local resident Lisa who is a carer of an autistic child that has ADHD.

“Lockdown has really highlighted the issues around hidden disabilities and being a carer for a child with autism and ADHD it has not been easy,” said Lisa.

“The Sunflower scheme is such a simple concept. If the person with a hidden disability or their carer is wearing a Sunflower emblem, ask if you can help them, give them more room, be patient and kind, and most importantly of all realise that they are struggling to cope more than you,” she added.

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President of Northwich Rotary Club, Tony Rowe, echoed Lisa’s sentiments, saying: “Northwich Rotary Club is proud to be involved with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme and to support Northwich as a Sunflower friendly town.

“Spreading the word about hidden disabilities to the wider public and the stresses these can bring to the individual, their carers and families can only help in making everyone more tolerant and understanding.”

Click on the link below to find out more about Northwich’s involvement in the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme.