Centre is open for one and all!

Businesses can never rest on their laurels. No matter how successful things seem, there is always an area where there is room for improvement.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 10:11 am

Businesses can never rest on their laurels. No matter how successful things seem, there is always an area where there is room for improvement.

Many companies big and small discovered during lockdown the whole new world of online retail and had a crash course in selling over the internet and all that entails.

But now we are welcoming customers back into stores, we are more conscious than ever about making the shopping experience enjoyable, relaxed and memorable for everyone.

Positive customer engagement and accessibility are central to everything that we do.

According to DisabilityAction, one in five people in Northern Ireland has a disability and legislation is in place to prevent people with disabilities being discriminated against regarding the use and access of services.

At Foyleside Shopping Centre, we make every effort to accommodate the needs of all shoppers.

For example, we have recently signed up to a RNIB initiative to ensure any visitors to the centre who are blind or partially sighted can be assisted by staff in the most helpful and appropriate way, following best practice guidance.

This builds on other key services we provide, such as ShopMobility, accessible toilets, Foyleside Champions, quiet times and a sensory room.

Shopmobility Foyle is a community service which lends wheelchairs, rollators and mobility scooters to people with limited mobility which allows them access throughout the city centre.

Autism NI has trained six Foyleside staff to become ‘centre champions’ and they are on hand to assist any child or adult with autism to plan and organise their shopping trips, directing them to the sensory room and other facilities and helping them deal with any possible chaotic experiences.

We have also designated ‘quiet evenings’ on Wednesdays.

Not only do these services enhance the visitor experience at Foyleside, they are a necessity.

All businesses have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to improve accessibility.

This isn’t restricted to just wheelchair access, such as installing ramps and widening doorways.

It also applies to people who are blind, deaf or have a learning disability.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland can advise businesses on the area of accessibility and ensure you are inclusive to all.

It has developed the ‘Every Customer Counts’ initiative to support Northern Ireland traders seeking to promote accessible services and aims to ‘encourage business men and women to take a moment’ to use its free self-assessment tool to consider how open their services currently are to disabled people. As well as being geared at both the public and private sector, there is specific retail guidance, particularly in relation to reopening after Covid.

We are thoroughly enjoying welcoming back all of our valued customers again. Summer has arrived in style at Foyleside and there is such a positive buzz everywhere as we look forward to brighter days ahead in more ways than one!

Like every other business out there, big or small, we always welcome customer feedback and I would encourage anyone who wishes to engage with us in relation to any of our services to contact us directly, you will find our contact details at www.foyleside.co.uk/contact-us/

Have a great weekend everyone!

Fergal Rafferty is Centre Manager, Foyleside.