Commitment To Accessibility
On ‘Purple Tuesday’, November 13th, organisations in Preston city centre confirmed their long-term commitment to making shops and businesses more accessible to users with mobility issues.
St George’s Shopping Centre, Preston BID and Preston Mobility Centre worked with Disability Equality North West to present an accessibility workshop, attended by city centre businesses.
In addition to the Purple Tuesday Workshop, the new ‘Changing Places’ facility in Preston was officially launched at Preston Mobility Centre. Over 250,000 people need ‘Changing Places’ facilities to enable them to get out and about and enjoy the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted; the installation of the new city centre unit is a major step forward for the city.
Andrew Stringer, Centre Manager at St George’s said: “St Georges are proud to working with keys partners including Preston Mobility Centre, Disability Equality NW, BID and the Department for Work and Pensions in championing Purple Tuesday in Preston. As a team we have been focussed on raising awareness to create a more accessible environment for shoppers, our activities on the day included an accessibility awareness workshop plus all our ambassadors, identifiable by their purple t-shirts, were on hand to assist shoppers with their specific needs.”
Joe Hannet, Preston Mobility Centre Manager said: “This is a great start. I’m over the moon with the commitment to a more inclusive future from the retail sector in Preston, the leadership shown by St George’s Centre and BID. Kudos also to the retailers who sent staff to today’s awareness event. We’ll learn from today and make sure this embeds in the retail offer for Preston going forward.
Mark Whittle, BID Manager said: “Today was a great launchpad on which the city can build for the future. We are committed, in the long-term, to working with experts to ensure that visiting Preston, and moving around city centre businesses, is as easy as possible for members of the community with specialist mobility needs.
Following the Purple Tuesday workshop, businesses have agreed a City Charter, confirming their commitment to the following:
Commit to the cause – Purple Tuesday is the start of a change in how we support disabled people in Preston, we will review and learn from this first campaign
Stage periodic awareness sessions for retail staff hosted by DENW, in association with Preston BID & St. Georges
Commission an accessibility audit with contributions from people living with impairments in Preston – we will use these insights to further enhance and inform future actions
Establish a steering group which will plan an improvement programme over the next year in advance of Purple Tuesday 2019
Review successes, learn from experience and communicate future collective plans to support members of the disabled community
Councillor Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council said: “It is great to see so many customer facing businesses in Preston supporting Purple Tuesday and creating a more accessible environment for all visitors. We are delighted to be working alongside Preston mobility centre and Lancashire County Council to open the new Changing Places toilet facility today, in line with Purple Tuesday. Continually improving access and facilities in the city centre enables a genuinely inclusive environment for visitors to remove any disadvantage they may face.”
County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “Changing Places toilets offer much more than standard accessible toilets, including hoists, extra space and changing benches to assist with helping other people. Hundreds of people with disabilities and complex health conditions use Preston city centre each week.
“If there aren’t suitable facilities nearby, it can make it difficult or impossible for them to come into the city centre, so facilities such as this and the changing places toilet at Preston Bus Station are crucial.
“We’re pleased to have funded this much-needed facility and we hope to see many more introduced across the county.”
It is estimated that there are approximately 27,000 people living in and around the city who have a disability or impairment.