Mid & East Antrim is ‘Autism Friendly’

Civic Leisure facilities and visitor attractions have gone above and beyond to create accessible and ‘autism friendly’ environments for citizens.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 11:03 am

A number of Mid & East Antrim Council owned and operated facilities across the borough - including the Seven Towers Leisure Centre and Ballymena’s People’s Park - have achieved ‘Autism IMPACT Award’ accreditation from Autism NI, and in partnership with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT).

Others include Carnfunnock Country Park and The Gobbins.

The IMPACT Award was presented to Council in recognition of the work undertaken to open up our facilities and services to autistic individuals and their families and carers. The prestigious achievement involved staff training and a number of adjustments to improve accessibility and overall customer experience, including pre-visit guides and ‘quiet spaces’ at a number of venues.

Mayor and Deputy Mayor, Cllrs William McCaughey and Matthew Armstrong, Cllrs Danny Donnelly and Cheryl Johnston and son Lyle; with Joanne Keown (Autism NI), Petr Zvolsky (Autism Ref Group), Dr Petra Corr and Jayne Colville (NHSCT) and Mary O'Boyle

Launching the IMPACT Award during one of his first public engagements, Mayor McCaughey, said: “I am delighted to share in this celebration of the commitment of Council, in partnership with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and Autism NI, to make our Borough an ‘Autism Friendly’ place to live, visit and work in. Under Council’s Community Plan, we want to create a strong, vibrant, safe and inclusive community, where we all work together to improve the lives of everyone, and this initiative is a very important milestone in meeting that objective.”

Council CEO, Anne Donaghy said:“I commend all our staff who have completed the Autism Champion training to gain a greater understanding of autism and how by making adaptations, we can better support those with autism and their loved ones within our community. As the mother of a child with additional needs, I know how vital it is for equal access to all our facilities and attractions, to ensure family days out and experiences are filled with joy. This is something I am very proud to say that our Council continues to champion.”