Hidden Disabilities

Middleton Shopping Centre has signed up to the sunflower lanyard scheme that supports people with autism and other hidden disabilities.

The scheme involves people wearing a sunflower lanyard to highlight to staff that they might be in need of extra help. People with invisible conditions, such as autism and dementia, can collect and wear a lanyard from the customer service desk to signal that they may need more support during their visit.

It will act as a discreet sign to staff that the wearer could require help or a little more time with things like finding their way around a centre or store and getting access to a quiet space or close-by toilet facilities.

Demand for the initiative has soared since it was first introduced. It is one of a number of measures to create more accessible shopping and leisure experiences and was introduced ahead of Purple Tuesday on November 12 – a day devoted to the needs of disabled shoppers.

Marie Gribben, Centre Manager at Middleton Shopping Centre, said: “We want to ensure that Middleton Shopping Centre is an accessible and inclusive destination for everyone. Nobody should feel excluded. The measures we are introducing will help every visitor to feel welcome to enjoy a fantastic experience at the centre.”

Middleton Shopping Centre also runs regular quiet hours every Saturday from 9am to 11am and its staff are trained to support people with autism and dementia.