How Eldon Square implemented award-winning changes for autistic customers

Eldon Square has won an award for its workEldon Square has won an award for its work
Eldon Square has won an award for its work | PR
Changes include Quiet Hours where lights and music are lowered.

Newcastle's Eldon Square has become the first North East shopping centre to receive an Autism Acceptance Gold Award for its accessibility work.

The award was given by the North East Autism Society (NEAS) in recognition of improvements to the shopping centre that have made a better experience for autistic customers.

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NEAS has been collaborating with Eldon Square in 2017 to implement the changes.

Improvements made to Eldon Square include Quiet Hours, Autism Champions and sensory bags.

Quiet Hours at the centre take place the first Tuesday from 10 am to 11 am and the following Saturday of the month, from 9 am to 10 am.

At these times lighting is dimmed as much as possible and music is turned down to provide a more autism-friendly environment.

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The three Autism Champions work with the autism community to relay the changes needed.

One of those led to the introduction of sensory backpacks which include egg timers, sunglasses, a variety of visual symbols, fidget toys, and autism guides, and are available for hire at the centre.

Tania Kelly, Marketing Manager at Eldon Square said: “It is incredible to see what has been achieved through our partnership with NEAS. The Gold award is a huge accolade for the team and all their efforts invested in this partnership.

“In Eldon Square, customer comfort and satisfaction are at the forefront of everything we do, and we always strive to provide the best shopping experience for all. So, we are delighted to learn that the changes and processes, that we have implemented are making a difference for our autistic customers.”

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NEAS Family Development Manager, Kerrie Highcock “The award is more than a tick box it’s a journey, and Eldon Square embraced that.

“It’s fantastic to see local businesses adapting their practices and taking into account the sensory needs and differences of autistic and/or neurodivergent individuals. Some of the changes they’ve made, like introducing sensory bags, really can make such a difference to the lives of many families across the North East.”

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