// Intu is the first shopping centre group to roll out a sunflower lanyard scheme nationwide
// The scheme rolls out ahead of Purple Tuesday
// Free sensory backpacks will be available to hire for autistic children
Intu is the first shopping centre group in the UK to back the sunflower lanyard scheme providing aid to visitors with hidden disabilities.
Those wishing to wear a lanyard can can collect and one at any of Intu’s centres across the country to signal that they may need more support during their visit.
The scheme will roll out ahead of Purple Tuesday on November 12, a day devoted to the needs of disabled shoppers.
It will discreetly make staff aware that the wearer might require help or extra time with things such as finding their way around a centre or store, getting access to a quiet space or toilet facilities, due to conditions such as autism, dementia or diabetes.
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People with assistance dogs can also collect a sunflower dog lead sleeve that will allow staff to easily recognise and support anyone bringing the animal into an Intu centre.
Demand for the initiative soared since it was first introduced by Gatwick Airport, where more than 10,000 sunflower lanyards were collected since the launch three years ago.
Intu has worked with Gatwick to roll out the scheme to its shopping and leisure destinations including Intu Trafford Centre, Intu Lakeside and Intu Metrocentre.
The initiative is one of the measures undertaken by Intu as part of its aim to offer the UK’s most accessible shopping and leisure destinations.
Every Intu location runs regular quiet hours and staff are trained to support people with autism and dementia.
Free sensory backpacks, containing different items to help autistic children enjoy their shopping experience, will also be available to hire from Intu centres this month following a successful trial at Intu Metrocentre and Eldon earlier this year.
Designed by parents of autistic children, the bags include ear defenders, egg timers, sunglasses, fidget toys and autism guides.
“We want to ensure that Intu’s retail and leisure destinations are accessible and inclusive destinations for everyone. Nobody should feel excluded,” Intu corporate affairs director Amanda Campbell said.
“This will also support our customers to attract more people to their stores, restaurants and leisure attractions by ensuring every visitor feels welcome to enjoy a compelling experience at an Intu centre.”