Shh! It’s oh so quiet…
In support of the National Autistic Society Scotland, Eastgate Shopping Centre is launching a Quiet Hour initiative to assist autistic shoppers and those with sensory impairments (NAS Scotland recently reported that 64% of autistic people avoid shopping, which leaves them, and their families, feeling socially isolated).
The first one was on October 6th, the Centre’s sensory-friendly shopping experience will take place on the first Wednesday of every month from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm.
To create a more relaxing and enjoyable shopping experience for all, the music/chimes will be turned off on Noah’s Ark Clock, children’s rides will not be operating, and unless an emergency arises, a request will be made for security to not make tannoy announcements.
Extra noise-making activities such as maintenance work will be reduced, and where possible and whilst still maintaining a safe environment, mall lights will be reduced.
To help autistic people and their families feel safe and able to shop in a more accessible environment, members of Eastgate’s facilities team have also received autism awareness training – alongside their identifiable uniforms, staff now also wear an “Autism Aware & Here to Help” badge.
Customers will also be able to take advantage of various in-store temporary changes such as no music, tannoy announcements, or till beeps.
Over 40 participating retailers such as HMV, Lakeland, The Entertainer, Joules, and Superdry have committed to making simple adjustments to their stores which will create new opportunities for those who find being out in public spaces difficult.
Alison Footitt, NAS Information Officer for the Highlands, said:
“The National Autistic Society Scotland is delighted to be supporting the Eastgate Centre with their monthly Quiet Hour.
“We know shopping can be very stressful for many autistic people and their families so the proposed sensory changes will make a big difference.
“In addition to the Quiet Hour, Eastgate staff are now more autism aware which will help shoppers too throughout the week”.
Kirstin Gault, Digital & Marketing Executive said:
“We are pleased to announce the long-term commitment of holding a Quiet Hour in the Centre.
“We strive to make Eastgate a happy place for all customers to visit, and with over fifty-six thousand autistic people in Scotland, we felt it was crucial to create a more comfortable shopping experience for those who see, hear, or feel the world in a different way, or for those who simply prefer a more tranquil shopping environment.”
“We would like to say a big thanks to NAS Scotland for highlighting the small changes that create a more inclusive environment for those who face sensory challenges.
“Eastgate is at the heart of the community, and we are fully committed to making sure that our retail environment provides a positive experience for all who visit.”
Also suitable for customers who may be nervous venturing out post COVID, Eastgate’s Quiet Hours for the remainder of 2021 will take place on Wednesday 6th October, Wednesday 3rd November, and Wednesday 1st December.