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Gunwharf Quays to deliver autism friendly experiences

To mark World Autism Week (30th March – 5th April), Gunwharf Quays has announced new pledges to become more autism-friendly, with the aim of delivering a more inclusive retail experience.

The centre is looking to build on the momentum and successes of 2019, during which it successfully introduced a variety of new features and initiatives to help make shopping at Gunwharf Quays more accessible for people with autism. This included introducing sensory toys and hidden disability lanyards to allow staff to proactively offer assistance. Plus, weekly quiet hours and an accessible guide to help guests navigate the centre. 


New services being rolled out at Gunwharf Quays over the next 12 months will include:

  • Digital autism training for all guest-facing centre staff, produced by Autism Hampshire
  • Downloadable ‘social stories’ to help guests familiarise themselves with the layout, look and feel of the destination in advance of their visit.
  • A pledge to work towards obtaining the ‘Autism Friendly’ Award given by the National Autistic Society (NAS)
  • The centre’s weekly quiet hour will also continue throughout 2020 on Sundays, with the aim of getting even more brands involved in turning off their music and reducing their lighting during this time.


Yvonne Clay, Senior Marketing Manager at Gunwharf Quays, said: “We are always looking for new ways to ensure that all our guests have the best possible experience when visiting the centre. We made significant steps towards achieving this in 2019 and hope the new range of services being introduced this year will further tackle some of the barriers faced by people with autism and their families, including a lack of understanding and social isolation.”


Over 700,000 people in UK have been diagnosed with autism. According to the National Autistic Society, 50% of people with autism and their family members sometimes don’t go out because they’re worried about how people will react to their autism. 79% of people with autism and 70% of family members feel socially isolated, and 28% of people with autism have been asked to leave a public space because of behaviour associated with their autism.


The new services have been implemented by Landsec, owner of some of the UK’s most well-known retail destinations, including Gunwharf Quays.

For more information about the services available at Gunwharf Quays, please visit https://gunwharf-quays.com/autism-support-were-here-help.


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