05 Oct 2022

City of Derry Airport receive Impact Award from Autism NI

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The spirited team at City of Derry Airport awarded by Autism NI, the region’s largest autism charity, following successful competition of education and training on the condition which ensures the airport can confidently look after the needs of the 30,000 individuals and families living with Autism who may use the airport facilities in the future. Charlene Shongo, Airport Manager at City of Derry Airport, commented: “I am extremely proud of our team on the successful completion of this training and for helping to make City of Derry Airport a place of comfort and understanding for our passengers, particularly those with autism. "City of Derry Airport continues to provide a vital air access link to the local community and performs a pivotal role in growing the economy of the region, offering both convenience and excellent customer service. The achievement of this award will certainly strengthen our services further. Our dedicated team at City of Derry Airport can also offer pre-familiarisation visit and communication passport in an effort to reduce anxiety levels in advance of travel. Charlene concluded by stating "We have excellent facilities and staff at City of Derry Airport and I would encourage all travellers within the local area to consider flight options from their local airport when making future travel arrangements." As Northern Ireland’s largest Autism charity, Autism NI has developed the Impact Awards to help organisations create a friendly environment for those with autism. The training ensures that staff better understand fellow staff members and customers who may have autism as well as how to adapt the organisation’s environment to support this. Autism is currently the fastest growing disability in Europe with a 67% increase in diagnosis rates in Northern Ireland therefore it is so important that organisations dedicate time to training staff in how to cater for customers with these needs. Orla Kelly, Training and Development Officer at Autism NI explained more about the award and the amazing work the charity carries out: “Autism NI exists to support individuals with autism and their families whilst raising awareness of the condition within the wider society. Part of this work has been getting organisations like City of Derry Airport to undertake training for the Impact award. "We are delighted City of Derry Airport is the first airport in Northern Ireland to receive the award." Orla also commented on the pro-active approach of the City of Derry Airport team in their training: "The staff are now well-informed on the various difficulties a person with autism may face when travelling and have implemented initiatives such as an activity book to help young people stay busy, pre-familiarisation visits (this can be booked in advance) and an airport communication passport which will help staff best support an individual on the spectrum. The hope of these methods is that it will reduce anxiety levels when travelling."Organisations that have also received this accolade include Titanic Belfast, Millennium Forum Theatre and Conference Centre and Belfast Met. Pictured above: The team at City of Derry Airport receiving their Impact Award from Autism NI.

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