"Our mission here at Charter Walk is to ensure that all shoppers, regardless of ability, have the best possible experience"
The sensory room, which is set to launch as part of the Centre’s ‘Purple Tuesday’s plans, is the latest in a number of initiatives introduced by Charter Walk to ensure people living with disabilities have a more comfortable shopping experience.
The funding is part of the larger Better Care Grant given to Lancashire County Council to invest in social care projects. Charter Walk is one of only two schemes to be allocated funding from the portion of the grant given to Burnley Council.
The sensory room will be specifically designed to provide a safe and comfortable space for shoppers suffering with sensory overload away from the hustle and bustle of the Centre. Plans for the room also include state of the art changing facilities including a lie down bed suitable for adults and a hoist.
Centre Manager, Debbie Hernon, commented: “Our mission here at Charter Walk is to ensure that all shoppers, regardless of ability, have the best possible experience and the sensory room that this funding will help us build will go a long way to ensuring we meet that mission. The room is expected to launch in time for this year’s Purple Tuesday and will be a central part of our efforts here this year.
“Everything that we have done to make Charter Walk more accessible to disabled shoppers began with last year’s Purple Tuesday. Seeing the amount of progress that we’ve made since then and hearing how much of a difference we’ve made in our shoppers lives motivates us to do more and I’m looking forward to everything we can achieve in the next twelve months.”
Since taking part in the national Purple Tuesday campaign last year the Burnley based Shopping Centre has developed a number of permanent initiatives to make the centre fully accessible to shoppers with disabilities. As part of their efforts all Centre staff have received specialised training with three members of staff becoming dedicated ‘Autism Champions’ and the Centre has been certified ‘Autism Friendly’. Charter Walk is one of only twelve Shopping Centres nationally to achieve this accreditation.
In addition Charter Walk have introduced two weekly ‘Quiet Hours’ during which number of the Centre’s retailers lower or completely turn off their background music and staff don’t carry out any loud or obtrusive tasks. The quiet hours are supported by a number of designated quiet zones and staff members who carry backpacks filled with sensory toys to help younger shoppers who are feeling overwhelmed.
Councillor Ivor Emo, the Burnley council executive member for housing and leisure, said: “We want to use this funding to provide first class facilities and services for disabled residents and visitors and improve not only their quality of life, but also for their carers and families.
"The two schemes put forward for funding are both exciting and valuable in terms of the positive impact they will have, and we are extremely pleased to be able to support them.”
Charter Walk has also installed a ‘Purple Pathway’ in their carpark which highlights the easiest and quickest route of entry into the Centre for shoppers with mobility issues.
For more information on the services available at the Centre visit the website: www.charterwalk.com, or visit www.facebook.co.uk/charterwalk.burnley, or follow us on Twitter @CharterWalk, or follow us on Instagram @CharterWalk.