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Painting the town Purple to improve shopping experience for disabled people

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LOCAL businesses painted the town purple as the Warrington BID team launched a number of disability initiatives to mark Purple Tuesday (12th November 2019).

Dressed in purple, members of Warrington BID board took part in a series of challenges as they were tasked with navigating the town centre using wheelchairs and mobility scooters to raise awareness of the international campaign that aims to improve the experience of disabled customers.

The Purple Tuesday activities follow the publication of an audit report entitled Accessible Warrington that undertaken by Warrington Disability Partnership, which was commissioned by the BID earlier this year to look into improvements for disabled people across the town centre.

As a result of the audit, from today, BID levy paying businesses will be encouraged to take advantage of free access audits and disability awareness training for their staff to ensure that they are meeting the practical needs of disabled people but also improving their customer service to make life easier for people with all types disabilities and long-term health conditions.

The BID also announced that they will be working with visitor information desks including Culture Warrington, Warrington Market and Golden Square Shopping Centre, to provide the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard scheme which has been adopted nationally by organisations like Gatwick Airport, Manchester Airport, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. This is an initiative designed to act as a discreet sign that somebody has a hidden disability and may have additional needs, additional understanding, patience and awareness whilst out in public places when shopping, in cafes, bars restaurants or leisure venues. These types of hidden disabilities may include autism and Asperger’s, learning disabilities, dementia, mobility issues (e.g. arthritis, MS, ME, chronic illness) and visual or hearing impairments.

Warrington BID Manager Harriet Roberts said: “Statistics show that one in five customers will have a disability and 80% will have a condition that is not visibly apparent, we believe that an accessible town is a welcoming town and that is why one of the BID’s key themes is to make Warrington a truly accessible town.

“We commissioned Warrington Disability Partnership to review the access issues across the town earlier in the year and we’re proud to say that a number of recommendations are being adopted by the Council. In addition to that we have invested in a hidden disability awareness scheme that will be available across the town centre and we are also giving businesses free access to audits and training opportunities – so we are set to see some real improvements over the coming months.”

Dave Thompson MBE DL, Founder and Chief Executive at Warrington Disability Partnership said: “Thanks to the audit commissioned by the BID a number of new recommendations will be adopted by the BID working with Warrington Borough Council’s Strategic Equality Group. These include ensuring that sufficient and disabled friendly seating is available in the new Time Square development and across the town, awareness of designated disabled drop-off areas where drivers will not receive a parking caution, improved litter picking and cleanliness of pavements, signage and way finding, induction loops, access ramps, autism friendly hours, awareness training and improved kerbs and pavements.

“The BID board members had fun taking on the mobility scooter and wheelchair challenges today but there’s a serious message behind Purple Tuesday; nationally it is recognised that £249 billion is spent by disabled people. Locally members of Warrington Shop Mobility spend approximately three-quarters of a million pounds in the town. Thanks to Warrington BID, I’m proud to say that Warrington is taking a holistic approach to the issues faced by disabled people across the town centre – these positive initiatives will be welcome by many.”

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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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