Foyleside Shopping Centre in Derry introduces 'Silent Santa' visits for children with additional needs
20 Nov 2018 3:36 PM
For Foyleside Shopping Centre, making the Christmas experience as inclusive and accessible as possible is of the utmost importance. That’s why the Centre have extended support for children with additional needs when visiting the centre’s Christmas grotto to meet-and-greet with Santa Claus. Every Sunday until December 13th, between 11am and 12pm, Foyleside will be opening its doors for Silent Santa visits. These visits are for children with additional needs should they require extra support, or for children who might potentially become anxious in the face of excessive noise, queues or crowding during busy opening hours. For the duration of these Silent Santa visits, stores will remain closed and no music will be played in the centre. It will be a completely relaxed environment designed specifically to reduce fear and anxiety. Should a child become anxious, frightened or if access issues arise during their visit, Santa will greet them at a more convenient point around the Christmas installation for photographs. Commenting on this year’s Silent Santa sessions Centre Manager, Fergal Rafferty has said: “Foyleside Shopping Centre has always been a cornerstone of the community here in Derry/ Londonderry. And with that, we feel that we have a responsibility to ensure that we take adequate measures to provide support for members of the community with additional needs.” In a further initiative to make the shopping experience at Foyleside more accessible, Wednesday evenings have also now being designated as “Quiet Evenings”. In an effort to make retailers and shoppers alike more conscious of the challenges faced by Northern Ireland’s autistic community, the main mall and shop units will turn off any in-store music. Foyleside has also constructed a brand-new sensory room as part its initiative to make the Centre more universally accessible. The room is fitted with multiple features designed to calm, including fibre optics, bubble tubes and other devices aimed at destressing. Sound and light levels are adjustable and can be changed to cater to a specific child or adult’s needs. Foyleside Shopping Centre relaxed Santa sessions take place every Sunday (11am – 12pm) until December 13th.
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