Foyleside Shopping Centre recieves Autism Impact Award

(Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
(Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Foyleside Shopping Centre has been named as the second shopping complex in the North to receive an Autism Impact Award from Autism NI.

This prestigious award is presented to organisations who go above and beyond to create an ‘Autism friendly environment.’

Foyleside Shopping Centre has six “champions” within the centre to ensure autism accessibility, making it the largest Shopping Complex with a specially trained staff in the North.

These AQA accredited Autism Champions are Adrian O’Brien, Micheál Morrow, Angela O’Donnell, Amy O’Donnell, Alison Canning and Tina McAleer.

Wednesday evenings in the centre have also been designated as “Quiet Evenings” in an effort to make retailers and shoppers alike more conscious of the challenges faced by the local autistic community.

The main mall and shop units will turn off any in-store music to help make the shopping experience more enjoyable for customers affected by autism.

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.

Fergal Rafferty, Centre Manager said: “We are extremely proud that Foyleside is now accessible to the many individuals and families in the North who are daily affected by autism.

“We want all shoppers to feel welcome, comfortable, safe, and above all, to have an enjoyable experience at Foyleside.

“We hope that we can encourage other businesses in the North to follow suit and that, with our example, we have taken steps towards tolerance and inclusivity across society as a whole.”