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Portsmouth City Council has reiterated its commitment to equality by renewing its status as Disability Confident and signing up to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme.

The Disability Confident scheme was set up to ensure employers provide equal opportunities to all disabled staff and job applicants, while the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme is dedicated to helping businesses identify customers with a hidden disability and become confident to provide them with additional help or assistance.

These are the latest examples of the council’s commitment to supporting the diverse population of Portsmouth. The Armed Forces Covenant, the Work and Health Programme, Kickstart, and Dying to Work, are just some of the other initiatives the organisation has embraced.

Cllr Chris Attwell, the council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Central Services, said: “I’m really pleased we’ve been able to make this move as an organisation. As a council we are committed to championing equality and diversity, whether that be through supporting our staff or our residents and customers. By educating all of our staff on hidden disabilities, not only are we offering support to those that need it when using council services, we’re also raising awareness with thousands of people about the difficulties disabilities can create on a daily basis.”

One in five people in the UK have a disability and 80 per cent of those are hidden. A hidden disability is a disability that may not be immediately obvious and include learning difficulties, mental health as well as mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments. People with hidden disabilities are encouraged to wear a sunflower lanyard to let people know they may need extra support, this could simply mean giving them more time to prepare or process information, using clear verbal language or allowing them to remain with their families at all times.

As part of the move all council staff will be trained on hidden disabilities to make sure they know how to help those that may need it. The council will also be providing Hidden Disability Sunflower products to those who want to wear them to identify themselves as having a hidden disability.

Portsmouth City Council was the first unitary authority in the south east to receive the Armed Forces Covenant ‘Gold Award’ for supporting those employees who served in the armed forces.

Kickstart targets young people and is a scheme designed to stop unemployment becoming long-term. The council has employed 32 ‘Kickstarters’ and has also helped to fill 127 vacancies for other Portsmouth employers.

The Work and Health Programme also helps people to find employment. Anyone who has been out of work for two years or more, or people who are disabled, homeless, a carer, a former member of the armed forces, a victim of domestic abuse or an ex-offender, are all eligible for support from the scheme.

More information on how local business can get support to recruit a diverse workforce and support staff can be found by searching ’employment and skills’ at portsmouth.gov.uk