Children can visit Santa at Foyleside in the comfort of a quiet environment.
The highly-anticipated “Silent Santa” initiative has returned to Foyleside Shopping Centre, enabling children with particular needs to visit Father Christmas in the comfort of a quiet environment.
On Wednesday evenings from 6.00pm-8.00pm – which is the Centre’s staple quiet shopping night of the week – families with a child who has autism or sensory difficulties can visit Santa with the Centre’s background music turned off and tannoy announcements kept to a minimum.
The “Silent Santa” initiative was introduced to make the experience of visiting Saint Nick inclusive and accessible to children who may potentially become anxious in the face of excessive noise, queues or crowding during busy periods.
Centre manager, Fergal Rafferty, said the service has had a positive impact on visiting families in previous years.
“Our 'Silent Santa' initiative proved to be extremely beneficial and well-received last year by parents and children, so we felt it was important to ensure this returned to Foyleside to create an entirely inclusive Centre for those who want to enjoy Santa the same way others can, but in a calm and considered way.
“At Foyleside, we have made a number of significant changes to support those with additional needs in the last 12 months, including our new Sensory Room, which features fibre optics, bubble tubes and customisable sound and light levels to help remove anxiety and distress.
“We have worked very closely with Autism NI to become more autism friendly and our staff have also been provided with specific training – so we really are making great improvements to make the Centre as accessible as possible.”
“Silent Santa” will run every Wednesday evening until 11th December. Quiet shopping nights are every Wednesday, from 6.00pm to 8.00pm.
For more information on Foyleside’s special needs services, visit: www.foyleside.co.uk/centre-info/services/
If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Derry Now editorial team on 028 7129 6600 for Derry City stories Or 028 7774 3970 for County Derry stories. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com at any time.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from Derrynow.com
Buy the e-paper of the Derry News and the County Derry Post here for instant access to Derry's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Derry with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.