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Manchester-based shopping park builds on Asda’s ‘Quiet Hour’ to help autistic and disabled shoppers

A Manchester-based shopping park on Cheetham Hill has taken inspiration from an initiative from one of its own stores by implementing a quiet hour across the destination.

Manchester Fort Shopping Park has followed in the footsteps of the recent initiative put in place by Asda Living to create a welcoming environment for people with autism by implementing a full shopping park quiet hour. The idea has seen worldwide recognition from various autistic societies.

Derek Askew, centre manager of Manchester Fort, said: “Asda’s implementation of a quiet hour provides a huge opportunity for those with autism and their friends and relatives to complete their shopping in a comfortable environment. We felt it necessary to implement this destination-wide and we have brought Autistic Society Greater Manchester Area on board to consult us on how we can better this further.

“We recognise that the shopping experience can result in sensory overload for some individuals with autism and we have worked to minimise this in order to make it a more comfortable environment for families visiting Manchester Fort during quiet hour.”

A number of retailers have already confirmed their involvement, agreeing to open under quiet hour recommendations at 9am on Saturday 14th May. Stores who have already confirmed their involvement include Mothercare, Boots, Nike, Trespass and Party Design.

Whilst the quiet hour initiative is currently being focused on, Manchester Fort is exploring how some of these practices can be extended across all of its opening times.

Derek added: “The Autistic Society Greater Manchester Area will provide invaluable insight to each participating store and ourselves about how we can create a better experience.

“Our aim is that local families will choose to shop at Manchester Fort during the quiet hour as we have created a comfortable and supportive environment for them.”

Emma Whiteley, Operations Manager at the Autistic Society Greater Manchester Area added “We welcome the opportunity to work with Manchester Fort and it’s retailers on this initiative. Whilst recognising the individuality of those on the autistic spectrum; it seeks to create a more conducive shopping experience for local families.”

Asda Living, based on Manchester Fort Shopping Park, Cheetham Hill, has recently announced it will be opening every Saturday morning from 8am beginning on Saturday 7th May.

Alongside retailers taking actions such as reducing noise and lighting levels; staff will be provided with information in order that they can better understand and support the needs of autistic children and adults.