The Burnley Business Improvement District (BID) is hoping to promote accessibility across the town to make sure that everyone who visits feels safe and relaxed.

It comes on the back of initiatives such as the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme receiving national recognition for its role in helping raise awareness for its members, especially at a time when strict social distancing rules are in place in shops, stores and businesses.

As part of Burnley BID’s drive to shine a spotlight on the topic, the team has been liaising with Sophie Williams who is a local influencer on the subject.

Sophie runs a successful blog called The Asperger’s Girl Guide and will be linking in with the BID going forward to spread important messages and hopefully educate people on hidden disabilities and what to look out for.

Great Steps To Promote Inclusivity And Accessbility

One organisation in Burnley that has taken great steps to promote inclusivity and accessibility is Charter Walk Shopping Centre, with Burnley BID Project Manager Andrew Dean praising the initiatives that they have in place.

“What Charter Walk have introduced in terms of accessibility is fantastic and helps so many people,” said Andy.

“All the staff have had autism training, they have a sensory room at their premises on St James Street, quiet hours for shopping run every day between 9am-10am and 4pm-5pm and Sunflower lanyards can be picked up from their offices. Disabled toilet facilities are also available.

“They have a virtual tour of the centre and an autism friendly guide on their website too for people to take a look at.”

Charter Walk Sensory Bag
Charter Walk sensory room lights

Accessible And Welcoming For All

Charter Walk recently won a Purple Apple award in recognition of these initiatives and Andy wants the town to build on the work that the shopping centre has done with regards to making the town accessible and welcoming for all.

“Charter Walk have done a great job but we need to raise awareness outside of the shopping centre with staff and the public.  We also need to listen to the community and carers and make continuous improvements wherever we can.

“It is so important that everyone tries to be kind and understanding at all times as you never know what issues people are dealing with. I would also urge people to signpost anyone they think would benefit from the sensory room or the disabled toilet facilities and look out for people wearing the sunflower lanyard and be aware of what it stands for.

“We want everyone who visits Burnley to have a positive experience and by having awareness of these hidden disabilities we can ensure that people feel safe and relaxed when visiting us.”

For tips, advice and information regarding hidden disabilities, please take a look at Sophie’s blog.

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