Trafford Centre Staff Support Shoppers with Autsim

Friday, 1 Apr 2016

Exactly one year into its pioneering partnership, intu Trafford Centre and Cheadle-based charity the Together Trust are celebrating a major campaign milestone – 195 members of the centre staff have now been trained in autism awareness.

2015’s World Autism Awareness Week saw the centre launch a UK-first initiative to support shoppers with autism through staff training, autism-friendly guides and specially designed alert cards.

Now, 12 months on, to launch Autism Awareness Week 2016 (2-8 April) intu Trafford Centre reports that negative incidents reported by shoppers with autism have reduced by 75% and many have praised the centre for its positive, supportive attitude.

Richard Paxton, general manager of intu Trafford Centre, said: “The bright lights, crowds and sounds of a busy shopping centre have been identified as a potentially difficult and scary experience for people with autism. We’ve been incredibly proud to be the first shopping centre in the UK to partner with a local charity to provide support and guidance to those shoppers. Our staff have truly embraced the opportunity to learn more and we’re delighted to announce that just one year into our campaign, over half of our staff are now fully trained.”

The Together Trust provides specialist education, residential and community care and fostering to young people and adults with learning difficulties, physical disabilities and complex needs in the North West.

intu Trafford Centre  has created two autism-friendly guides to the centre and specially designed alert cards for visitors in conjunction with children with autism. The guides are designed to cater for individuals of all ages and abilities. They will support visitors through all stages of their visit, starting before arriving at the centre, through to what they will see, what they can do and what to do in an emergency.

Sue Whitehead, Head of Therapy Services at the Together Trust said: “We are thrilled to be celebrating a year since the rollout of the autism friendly guides. Having access to these resources can transform the experience of families affected by autism when they visit a busy shopping area like the Trafford Centre.”

Specially designed alert cards have also been developed for individuals with autism and for their parents and carers, which visitors can use at their discretion to communicate with intu staff or the public to quickly explain that they have autism.

A customer recently wrote in to intu Trafford Centre to say: “Please can I pass on a huge thank you to the team for the effort and preparation gone into these guides. My son has recently been diagnosed as having an ASD and having access to resources like this is amazing. We often get looks and stares from the way we have to manage my son's ASD, but things like this help more than can ever be told.”

The guide and alert card are available for download from the intu Trafford Centre website or can be collected from the Customer Services Desk located in the Main Dome.

On Saturday 2nd April 2016, to launch this year’s Autism Awareness Week, volunteers from the Together Trust will be in the centre to showcase the resources, answer questions about autism and offer support to people affected by the condition.

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