The White Rose Shopping Centre in South Leeds is taking steps to be more inclusive for people with autism.
The centre has teamed up with leading organisation, the National Autistic Society, to hold a daily Autism Hour from Saturday 6 – 13 October 2018, between the hours of 10-11am.
White Rose is working in partnership with Leeds based Specialist Autism Services to create an autism-friendly guide to the shopping centre. Its onsite Cineworld is also hosting an autism-friendly screening of Christopher Robin at 11am on 7 October.
Autism Hour was launched in 2017 as the first mass-participation event to encourage shops to be more autism friendly. Many celebrities are backing the campaign including Chris Packham, Anne Hegerty and Christine McGuinness.
There are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK, as well as three million family members and carers. Being autistic means seeing, hearing, and feeling the world in a different, often more intense way to other people. Autistic people often find social situations difficult and can struggle to filter out the sounds, smells, sights and information they experience, which can make busy public places, like shops, overwhelming.
The campaign is asking shops and businesses to take simple steps that will lead to a more autism-friendly world, such as turning down music, lighting and till noises.
Steven Foster, General Manager of White Rose Shopping Centre, said:
“It’s really important to us at White Rose to be as inclusive as possible, and participating in the daily Autism Hour is an excellent way of making shopping more accessible as well as raising awareness. We’re pleased that so many of our retailers are keen to get behind the initiative.”
Mark Lever, Chief Executive at the National Autistic Society, said:
“It’s wonderful to see so many well-known high street retailers have already signed up – and ready to make the world a more autism friendly place.
“Autistic people represent a huge part of our society with 64% of autistic people avoiding the shops. The National Autistic Society wants a world which works for autistic people. With Autism Hour, we want to show retailers the small things they can do to help open up the high street for autistic people. Things like staff finding out a bit more about autism and making simple adjustments such as turning down music or dimming the lights. It’s often the smallest change that makes the biggest difference.”
To find our more information about attending a National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour, please visit: autism.org.uk/autismhour