Blind charity hails changes for disabled at Ipswich shopping centre
PUBLISHED: 11:30 17 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:50 17 November 2018
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The mother of a disabled woman has hailed a new disability-friendly initiative launched at The Sailmakers.
Penny Parker and fellow members of the East and Mid-Suffolk branch of the Guide Dogs for the Blind have teamed up with Sailmakers Shopping Centre to launch ‘Purple Time,’ a scheme designed to improve the disabled customer experience.
The initiative, which will run from 9am-11am every Tuesday, was established to enable disabled visitors to shop at their own pace in a relaxed and spacious environment.
Ms Parker has first-hand experience of these issues as her 29-year-old daughter Lauren lives with Williams Syndrome, a degenerative disorder.
She also has a mental age of eight and suffers with high blood-pressure, making everyday tasks like shopping a struggle.
She said: “My daughter has no depth perception and hypersensitive hearing due to her condition so with the stairs, glass balconies, music, busy shops or if someone goes past with a trolley full of stock, she can become disorientated.
“She can find it traumatic and it can be hard for you as a parent when you feel like people are looking and judging when your child is having a physical and emotional breakdown.
“To know it’s going to be quieter for those two hours is perfect.”
Ms Parker hopes that the new scheme will be used by people throughout Ipswich.
She said: “No one should ever feel trapped like they can’t go out.
“This gives people an opportunity to do something we take for granted and I hope people will take advantage of Purple Time.”
The Sailmakers Shopping Centre manager Mike Sorhaindo also welcomed the scheme.
He said:“Tuesday is a quieter day in the shopping centre and so it is the ideal time to try and create this sympathetic environment for people who may well find the hustle and bustle of other days a disorientating experience.
“We want to make Sailmakers accessible to all and to make it a welcoming place, particularly as it acts as a real hub for people arriving in the town centre.”
Sailmakers’ new initiative was launched on the annual Purple Tuesday accessible shopping day event, November 13.
It will now run every Tuesday morning.