Newcastle’s well-loved shopping and dining destination, Eldon Square, has partnered with the North East Autism Society to organise a range of events and experiences in support of the centre’s autistic and neurodivergent community for Autism Acceptance Week 2023.

To launch the event, on Saturday 25th March, Eldon Square will host a Storytime event for all the family in collaboration with Read North East by the National Literacy Trust, Percy Hedley Foundation, Seven Stories and North East Autism Society. The morning session will cater to families who prefer a quieter setting, with a small supply of sensory fidget toys available for children to engage with while listening to the storyteller, in order to make Storytime enjoyable for all.

From Monday 27th March, large, illuminated letters spelling out the word ‘Acceptance’ will be installed on Lower Grey’s Quarter (opposite Tortilla), with visitors to the centre encouraged to pose for pictures and upload them using the hashtags #EverydayEquality and #EldonSqAcceptance. The North East Autism Society will be available onsite at Eldon Square on Friday 31st from 11AM to 4PM, upper Grey’s Quarter (opposite Chatime) to chat with customers and discuss the myths surrounding autism, with a Q&A session based on questions sent in by the North East community via Eldon Squares social media channels.

The event will run alongside the work that the centre does to create a supportive shopping environment for autistic and neurodivergent people by continuing and enhancing this activity through additional quiet hours on Tuesday 28th March between 10AM and 11AM and on Saturday 1st April from 9AM to 10AM. Sensory bags containing egg timers, sunglasses and a variety of visual and fidget toys aimed at enhancing the neurodivergent in-centre experience are on offer for children from the centre’s Fenwick customer service point. This activity sits alongside staff training and formal recognition of the sunflower lanyards, a visual signifier of shoppers that may need additional support.

“It is an ongoing priority of Eldon Square to actively include all members of our community equally and give everyone a place in which they feel safe, valued and welcomed.

Our work with the North East Autism Society is integral to this, which is why for Autism Acceptance Week 2023 we are continuing our partnership with the charity and using our space to help spread the message about what living with a neurodivergence is like and how as a community we can promote everyday equality.”

Naomi Osborne, Acting Marketing Manager at Eldon Square

“It is wonderful to see Eldon Square getting so whole-heartedly behind the message of Autism Acceptance and putting it into action with these initiatives.

“Our Everyday Equality campaign is all about removing the barriers autistic and neurodivergent people can face in their daily lives – and Eldon Square is helping do just that. It can really make a difference to families.”

Kerrie Highcock, Family Development Manager at the North East Autism Society

“We absolutely love shopping at Eldon Square because it makes shopping super easy and is really accessible. We love jumping on the metro each Saturday morning as a family.

All the shops we need are under one roof. The sensory packs keep Walter regulated with plenty of fidget toys to keep him entertained. The facilities and staff are amazing, meaning the whole family’s needs are catered for, whilst mummy shops her socks off!”

Rhiannon Richards, the mum behind the Instagram account bigwandlittlew

This year’s events are part of Eldon Square’s ongoing commitment to supporting those with hidden disabilities. You can find more information at:

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