07 Aug 2022

Foyleside Shopping Centre in Derry awarded for its efforts in helping people with autism

A Derry shopping centre has been honoured for the efforts of its staff in helping to provide an autism-friendly environment. Foyleside Shopping Centre has received an Autism Impact Award from Autism NI, which is presented to organisations who go above and beyond. The centre recently celebrated the opening of a ‘sensory room’, which is fitted with multiple features designed to calm, including fibre optics, bubble tubes and other devices aimed at de-stressing. In addition, the centre now has a designated ‘Quiet Evening’ which takes place on Wednesday, in an effort to make retailers and shoppers alike more conscious of the challenges faced by the autistic community. The main mall and shop units will turn off any in-store music to help make the shopping experience more enjoyable for customers affected by autism. Foyleside has also appointed six ‘champions’ dedicated to ensuring autism accessibility within the centre, making it the largest shopping complex with a specially trained staff in the north. Commenting, Fergal Rafferty, Centre Manager at Foyleside Shopping Centre said they want everyone who visits the store to ‘feel welcome’. “We are extremely proud that Foyleside is now accessible to the many individuals and families in Northern Ireland who are daily affected by autism,” he said. “We want all shoppers to feel welcome, comfortable, safe, and above all, to have an enjoyable experience at Foyleside. “We hope that we can encourage other businesses in Northern Ireland to follow suit and that, with our example, we have taken steps towards tolerance and inclusivity across society as a whole.”

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