Congratulations to The Mercury shopping centre in Romford after having been awarded an Autism Friendly accreditation from the National Autistic Society (NAS) in recognition of the work they do to make shopping more accessible for people with autism spectrum conditions.
The centre already has Sensory Tuesdays when it becomes a calmer place, the music is turned off, hand driers replaced with paper towels and stores are requested to either turn their in-store music off or have it at a low level, allowing shoppers – not only those who suffer from autism – to enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the overload of too much information.
Working with NAS, the shopping centre have introduced a number of other initiatives, including providing sensory visual guides to help those planning a visit to the centre, and offering ‘alert cards’ used by visitors at their discretion.
“All staff have received training on understanding autism. It’s great to be part of an organisation that focuses on Autism, we have received an Autism Friendly award for The Mercury and will continue to improve in any way we can.” said Brad Halfacre, Assistant Contracts Manager for Axis Group at The Mercury.
“By seeking external expertise, training staff and acting on the feedback of its autistic customers, The Mercury has made a fantastic effort to be an inclusive environment.
“In particular, identifying quiet areas, running regular sensory shopping days and offering visual guides and resources to help support visitors, the Centre has shown a real commitment to making a big difference to the lives of autistic people in the local area.
“We hope that many more shopping centres will follow their excellent example, then we will be a little bit closer to creating a world that supports and works for autistic people, their families and carers.” said Daniel Cadey, Autism Friendly Development Manager at National Autism Society.
So far over 7,000 shops have already signed up to Autism Hour and the campaign is being backed by celebrities including Chris Packham, Anne Hegerty and Christine McGuinness.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.