The Millennium Forum today received an Autism Impact Award in recognition of its ongoing efforts in providing fully accessible experiences for all patrons. The flagship arts and cultural venue was presented with this award by Christine English, Autism NI’s Development Manager and the Deputy Mayor, Councillor John Boyle. 
The Autism Impact Award recognises organisations who excel in creating a more ‘Autism friendly environment’ for their customers. Through attaining an Impact Award, organisations can confidently open up their business to the 30,000 individuals and families living with Autism in Northern Ireland that previously may have been excluded. This award equips businesses to better understand any staff and customers who may have Autism and allows them to adapt their organisation’s environment to support this.  The Impact Award includes staff training and support to implement a range of adjustments to improve accessibility.
Box Office Manager, Lisa Heaney, completed the accreditation to become an Autism Champion. She said:
“Twenty-four of our staff completed the training course and we’ve made numerous adjustments to our products and services in order to achieve this award.  These include continuing with and increasing our relaxed performances, implementing a permanent Quiet Area that can be accessed during all performances, implementing a customer service Code of Practise across online, phone and in-person interactions, introducing visual menus for our bars and shop, colour coding our doors to assist with ease of access for our patrons, as well as the continuing promotion and implementation of our Access Membership Scheme.”
Christine English, Autism NI’s Development Manager comments:
We are delighted to present Millennium Forum with the Impact Award, which recognises their commitment to increase Autism Accessibility in their organisation. This is the latest success for Derry City and Strabane District Council as they work with Autism NI to become an Autism Friendly Council.
The Millennium Forum has implemented a number of changes as a result of the Impact Award Scheme, including more visual information and a quiet area that customers can use when visiting the organisation.  On behalf of Autism NI, I would like to congratulate all the staff and Autism Champions on achieving the Impact Award.”
The Mayor, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh added:
“On behalf of Derry City and Strabane District Council I would like to warmly congratulate the Millennium Forum on having their inclusivity and accessibility recognised with this prestigious title.  The Autism NI Impact Award is just acknowledgement for the dedicated work of the staff at the Millennium Forum in creating a venue where the particular needs of individuals and families living with Autism can be accommodated.”
David McLaughlin, Chief Executive of the Millennium Forum is delighted that the Forum has been recognised by this award:
“This is fantastic news for our venue and is testament to the hard work of all our staff.  The Millennium Forum prides itself in proving accessible theatre for all and has, in recent years, been at the forefront of developing fully accessible theatre through special Relaxed and Dementia Friendly performances of our annual pantomime and other productions; indeed, we were the first theatre in Ireland to showcase these performances for our Christmas pantomime back in 2014, and, last year, this offering was developed to form the ‘Sing Song Sessions’ which took the panto cast to various centres across the city, enabling people living with dementia to enjoy an afternoon of live music.  We hope to continue and build on these efforts as part of our ongoing commitment to providing accessible theatre for all our patrons.”

Huge congrats to all involved.

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