Mid and East Antrim Borough seeking ‘Autism Friendly’ status

Businesses are to be offered training in a bid to make Mid and East Antrim an ‘Autism Friendly’ borough.

Training will be similar to that provided to businesses in the borough wishing to become ‘Dementia Friendly’.

It is part of a wider initiative to make Mid and East Antrim more accessible. The borough’s three leisure centres are included in the plan. Signage has already been installed advising of noise, smells etc.

A working group has been set up to progress a number of initiatives.

Larne Leisure Centre. Pic courtesy Google

The local authority will be working to attain an Impact Award developed by the Autism NI charity to help organisations create a more “autism friendly environment” for customers.

Participants must show that they have “gone above and beyond to create accessible and autism friendly environments”.

Through attaining the award, the council believes that it will be able to welcome an additional 30,000 individuals and families to its attractions.

Work on a sensory garden project at Larne’s Dixon Park is due to commence this month. It is being funded and delivered by Larne Football Club in association with the council.

Amphitheatre, Carrickfergus

In addition, nine members of council staff have been trained as ‘Autism Champions’.

Commenting at Tuesday night’s meeting of the council’s Direct Services Committee, Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly said he welcomed that three of the borough’s visitor attractions will also be included for the Impact Award – Carnfunnock Country Park, outside Larne, The Gobbins, Islandmagee and People’s Park, Ballymena.

Cllr Donnelly said: “It is great to see we are going the right way by providing these services for families in the area.”

Carrickfergus DUP Cllr Marc Collins said that “brilliant work has gone on since June” adding that he welcomed the Autism Friendly training to be offered to businesses.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

Click here to read: Co Antrim school ‘first in Northern Ireland’ to receive Trauma Sensitive award

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