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Shopping centre holds 'quiet day' to help people with disabilities

PUBLISHED: 11:20 07 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:20 07 November 2019

Sailmakers Shopping Centre in Ipswich holds regular 'quiet days' for disabled people. Picture: Warren Page/Pagepix

Sailmakers Shopping Centre in Ipswich holds regular 'quiet days' for disabled people. Picture: Warren Page/Pagepix

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An Ipswich shopping centre has been praised for holding a weekly "quiet day" where disabled people can shop in a peaceful, calm environment without music.

Hannah Young, left, with other guide dog owners and volunteers at Sailmakers Shopping Centre. Picture: Warren Page/PagepixHannah Young, left, with other guide dog owners and volunteers at Sailmakers Shopping Centre. Picture: Warren Page/Pagepix

People with disabilities can often find walking around a busy shopping centre difficult because of the high levels of noise, bright lights and a busy environment.

So the Sailmakers Shopping Centre began holding a "Purple Time" scheme between 9am and 11am every Tuesday, where disabled visitors can shop at their own pace in a music-free, more spacious environment.

Guide Dog owner Hannah Young, who was born with a genetic condition that left her partially sighted before eventually losing her sight in 2010, is one of those to praise the move.

The 34-year-old from Felixstowe said: "I find it a lot easier when the centre is quieter.

"I have light perception so if it's bright it affects me and my concentration. I get bad headaches. Dimming the lights makes such a big difference.

"What I find when I'm out shopping and it's busy, people are not always looking where they are going and walk into me.

"Having that morning to go shopping and know it will be relaxed is a big help. It's also helpful for a guide dog as they find it easier to hear you."

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Penny Parker, from the East and Mid-Suffolk branch of the Guide Dogs, also supported the scheme.

Her 29-year-old daughter Lauren has a genetic condition called Williams Syndrome, which means she has no depth perception, hypersensitive hearing and a mental age of eight.

Penny Parker said: "It can be a big challenge for disabled people.

"It's a noisy environment. You've got music, trolleys and cleaning people. Often you have a real crash of music because you'll have different songs playing in the shops and restaurants.

"My daughter doesn't cope well with glass balconies and escalators. With the music and noise inside the centre she can't concentrate on getting from A to B.

"She'd literally be clinging on to the walls. When it's quiet she can think her way through."

She also said: "For guide dogs, a lot of noise can be very distracting. They need to take instruction from their owners so it's important they are able to hear them if their owner needs to find a lift or toilet."

Sailmakers Shopping Centre manager Mike Sorhaindo 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, and I'm sure our retailers will be keen to get on board with this as well."

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