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Gunwharf Quays to deliver autism friendly experiences

Posted: 2nd April 2019

To mark World Autism Week 2019, Landsec-owned Gunwharf Quays has announced that it will take significant steps over the next twelve months to become autism-friendly, with the aim of delivering a more inclusive retail experience.

Over 700,000 people in UK have been diagnosed with autism. According to the National Autistic Society, 50% of both autistic people and family members sometimes don’t go out because they’re worried about how people will react to their autism. 79% of autistic people and 70% of family members feel socially isolated, and 28% of autistic people have been asked to leave a public space because of behaviour associated with their autism.

The new services being rolled out at Gunwharf Quays over the next 12 months will include; sensory toy bags for children with autism and hidden disability lanyards to allow staff to proactively offer assistance. Weekly quiet hours will also see lighting dimmed and music switched off inside stores, with weekend quiet hours being trialled on 6th and 7th April in support of World Autism Week. In addition, our front of house staff will receive even more training on how to best support guests with hidden disabilities.

Yvonne Clay, Senior Marketing Manager at Gunwharf Quays, said: “We are always looking at new ways to ensure that all of our guests have the best possible experience when visiting the centre. As such, we hope the range of new services will tackle some of the barriers faced by people with autism and their families, including a lack of understanding and social isolation.”

The new services have been implemented by Landsec, owner of some of the UK’s most well-known retail destinations, including Gunwharf Quays. They will be introduced throughout 2019, and all will be in place by World Autism Week 2020.

Other Landsec destinations where these services will be on offer are: Clarks Village; Braintree Village; The Galleria, Hatfield; St David’s, Cardiff; Southside, Wandsworth; The O2 Centre, Finchley Road; Lewisham Shopping Centre; West 12 Shopping Centre; Junction 32, Castleford; Bluewater; Trinity Leeds; Westgate, Oxford; Buchanan Galleries and White Rose.