To mark National Autism Awareness Month, Rochdale Exchange Shopping Centre has launched a ‘quiet hour’ initiative in support of shoppers who are affected by autism and other sensory impairments.

Running every Sunday afternoon, Rochdale Exchange Shopping Centre’s ‘quiet hour’ campaign will be taking place from 1pm to 2pm. By turning off the centre music, a more calming and relaxing environment will be created for customers who require a less stressful setting to make their visit a more enjoyable experience.

Lorenzo O’Reilly, Rochdale Exchange Shopping Centre manager, said he is really pleased that the centre is able to show its ongoing support to all members of the Rochdale community, so that the centre is an inclusive shopping destination for all.

He said: “For our visitors who experience the world differently, coming to a busy centre with crowds of people, music and bright lights can be disorienting and overwhelming. It’s wonderful that we are able to take steps to ensure people can freely enjoy everything on offer here.

“Making simple adjustments to our surroundings opens up new opportunities for those with ‘silent’ disabilities to feel much more comfortable when out in public spaces.”

National Autism Awareness Month promotes autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and assures that each person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.

This year, the initiative wants to go beyond simply promoting autism awareness to encouraging friends and collaborators to become partners in movement towards acceptance and appreciation.

Lorenzo said that it is important to keep pushing forward in making Rochdale a more autism-friendly town and putting additional, positive actions in place. He added: “We’re at the heart of the community and are fully committed to making sure that our retail environment is as appealing as possible to all visitors.”