The Autism NI impact award is the latest development in a programme of activity at ICC Belfast and sister venues, the Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall to support increased participation and deliver on its values as an organisation that celebrates diversity and champions inclusivity.
Autism NI is a partnership led organisation formed to promote positive collaboration between parents, professionals and autistic individuals and address the need for appropriate services. The impact award process affords organisations and teams the opportunity to understand more about autism and how to support autistic customers and employees through a tailored programme of training and support.
Julia Corkey, Chief Executive, ICC Belfast | Waterfront Hall | Ulster Hall commented on the announcement saying,
We are proud of our partnership with Autism NI, it has enabled us to raise funds and awareness of their incredible services and more importantly enable us to provide an autism friendly environment for patrons and visitors to our venues.
I am delighted that Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall have received this accreditation as it reflects our commitment to providing a truly inclusive, accessible and enjoyable experience for all visitors.”
With over 35,000 autistic individuals and families currently residing in Northern Ireland, autism inclusive accredited organisations can offer a more diverse workforce. Team members who are empowered and assured in their abilities to support any autistic customer are also able to provide a higher level of customer service.
Christine Kearney, Director of Development, Autism NI said,
It is a pleasure to present Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall with our Autism NI Impact Award. This award demonstrates their commitment to offering a welcoming environment to the 35,000 autistic individuals in Northern Ireland, and their families, and to ensuring that no one is excluded.
"We have heard just what a difference the recent changes have already made to families, enabling them to enjoy quality time together, and we are sure that many more will enjoy a fantastic day out in the years to come. For more information on Autism NI’s Impact Award please get in touch with Autism NI directly”.
In addition to a trained team of Autism Champions who have received AQA Accreditation, enhancements made at the Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall to support autistic patrons include the introduction of a sensory cool down area, the availability of ear defenders and the production of Social Narrative Access videos designed to support patrons in advance of their visit so that they can better navigate their surroundings on arrival. A Social Narrative Access Video specific to ICC Belfast was also produced as a legacy of Harkin Belfast which took place in the venue in June 2022.
Charlie McCloskey, Director of Events and Customer Experience, ICC Belfast | Waterfront Hall | Ulster Hall said accessibility is a long-term strategic priority for the venues noting,
Welcoming over 300,000 visitors to our venues each year, we are committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our guests. Now that we have achieved the Autism Impact award, we have a benchmark to monitor progress and ensure we are making continuous improvements.
"Our patrons always comment on the exceptional level of customer care they receive from our team, and we have already seen the benefit with the sensory cooldown area proving popular during the 2022 Christmas pantomime season."