Free online training is being offered to businesses and individuals who want to help those with hidden disabilities.

Compassionate IoM has been working in collaboration with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme to provide training online via Zoom for no longer than 30 minutes.

The aim of the scheme is to raise awareness and provide support and understanding for those with hidden disabilities. These include hearing loss, autism, Alzheimer’s and mental health issues.

An important part of the scheme is a lanyard (and a card if carried) that a disabled person can wear to discreetly indicate to others they have a hidden ailment.

Dates for the Zoom training are Tuesday, May 4, at 2pm, May 10 at 4pm and May 17 at 11am.

The group involved includes representatives from across government, the third sector and local businesses.

Minister for Health, David Ashford MHK who has fully endorsed the adoption of the scheme, commented: ’We have an opportunity to make a difference to the lives of people we meet.

’Wearing a Hidden Disability Sunflower lanyard means you can request help without having to declare it.

’By taking 30 minutes out of your day to attend the awareness training, you can help to change the everyday challenges of people living with a hidden disability.’

Paul White of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme said: ’Compassionate Isle of Man’s Hidden Disabilities Sunflower project is an exemplar.

’Bringing organisations together in a cohesive and affective manner to deliver training on a mass scale for the benefit of the entire community.

’Helping to build a more inclusive society, people with invisible disabilities that choose to wear the Sunflower will feel reassured that they will be recognised and offered kindness and understanding.’

Formed a little over two years ago, Compassionate Isle of Man is a community initiative within Hospice IoM, which recognises the importance of families, friends, neighbours and communities working alongside statutory services to support residents of the island.

Compassionate IoM said that companies and organisations can make a tangible difference to their customers, ’building stronger relationships, developing wellbeing, improving organisational resilience and engendering a compassionate ethos’. Retailers can make the shopping experience less stressful, more enjoyable and accessible, encouraging people to return.

With lockdown now at an end, and with the easing of restrictions, the organisation said that it is important that the Sunflower scheme continues to provide a means of support to those with a hidden disability.

For further information, and to purchase a sticker identifying your organisation or business as a recognised supporter of the scheme, people can follow the link to buy a branded Hidden Disability sticker: