On the road with Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and National Highways
The success of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard scheme is being rolled out to vehicles too, thanks to funding from National Highways that will help alert roadside and emergency services when additional support may be needed on England’s roads.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is widely recognised for helping people with non-visible disabilities get the support they need in the public domain. In a new partnership with National Highways, the iconic Sunflower can now be displayed on vehicles, enabling drivers and their passengers to let others know that they may need additional support, help or a little more time.
Paul Pengelly, a Sunflower wearer, commented on the new partnership: “I have fibromyalgia along with anxiety and a personality disorder, which affects my general mobility. If a vehicle I’m travelling in is broken down or in an accident, exiting the vehicle quickly and safely would be difficult for me.
“My anxiety in such a situation would already be heightened, and without support I could become more distressed or agitated. Identifying my additional needs would be crucial to keeping everyone safe and preventing unnecessary distress or harm.”
National Highways traffic officers routinely patrol all motorways and some sections of major A-roads in England and are often first on the scene in an emergency. Their priorities are to keep people safe and fully reopen the road as soon as possible. The Sunflower for vehicles discreetly indicates to traffic officers that someone in the vehicle has an impairment which may not be visible.
Paul explained: “Having the Sunflower on the back of my car informs National Highways traffic officers that they should ask me what extra support I might need so that they can do their job safely while making sure that no harm comes to me, the other occupants and passing traffic.”
Hidden Disabilities Sunflower wearer Paul Pengelly can now also display the Sunflower on his vehicle thanks to the new partnership with National Highways
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower for vehicles is free to road users in England and can be ordered from the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower store.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower can be placed on the rear of a vehicle to indicate that a driver or passenger has a non-visible disability and may need additional support
National Highways Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager Julian Horsler said: “We want all road users to feel confident that they’ll get the help they need if they break down or need assistance on our roads.
“For many disabled people our roads already provide the best travel option for them; enabling them to travel to work, go on holiday and visit family and friends. However sometimes it isn’t the obvious barriers that prevent people from travelling independently, it can be the hidden or unknown ones that cause the most difficulties.
“To ensure our disabled customers can travel safely on our roads, we’ll continue to introduce new services, like the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower for vehicles, which break down barriers and help people feel in control of their journeys.”
Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Chief Executive Officer Paul White said: “I’m thrilled that National Highways is supporting the Sunflower and people with non-visible disabilities on motorways and major A-roads in England.
“Our goal is for Sunflower wearers to be supported wherever they visit and however they choose to travel, and this partnership is another step closer to this goal.”
Damon Jowett, Head of Service Delivery at Green Flag, comments: “We’re hugely supportive of this initiative. By displaying the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower on vehicles, it will mean our recovery network are made aware that there is potential additional needs and support required for the drivers and passengers we attend to. This initiative really helps us to ensure we provide the best level of service and can meet the requirements of all our Green Flag customers.”
The introduction of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower for vehicles is one of many new resources being rolled out by National Highways to make it easier for disabled people to travel confidently on England’s motorways and major A-roads.
Last year the government company launched a service to help Deaf people communicate with the organisation using British Sign Language through the video relay service, SignLive. And earlier this year the company published detailed access guides for all 114 motorway services in England to help disabled road users plan where to take a break at facilities that best meet their access needs.
For further information about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme visit the website.