The 'Friendly Fleet' family

The 'Friendly Fleet' family are groups of local people that I've brought together, such as those from autism, dementia, visual impairment and disability charities, in order to provide one unified initiative that's good for business and good for people with those conditions.

Together, we have a huge opportunity to help accommodate those with specific needs that make it a challenge for them to access the services we take for granted. Central to this mission is the win-win—it will unlock more potential customers too.

Businesses who agree to implement a short list of pledges will, in return, receive a window sticker and a certificate that they can use to display their accreditation to potential customers.

 

Friendly Fleet Pledges

1. We will identify and advertise ‘quiet and friendly times’ each week.

For some people, the world can seem full of too much information, which presents a common barrier to accessing shops. We will turn music and other noises down or off, with in-store tannoy announcements and other controllable noise reduced.

While maintaining a safe premises at all time, we will dim or switch off lights, given that lighting, particularly fluorescent strip lighting, can be overwhelming for some people also.[1]

2. We will increase staff awareness and understanding of autism.[2]

3. We will be patient with people who may take longer to interact.

4. We will increase staff awareness of dementia with Dementia Friends, an Alzheimer’s Society initiative.

A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action.

Dementia Friends Information Sessions (available to book on the Dementia Friends website) are one hour sessions run by volunteer Dementia Friends Champions, trained and supported by Alzheimer’s Society. You will learn more about dementia and how you can help to create dementia friendly communities.

You can also become a Dementia Friend by watching their online video, followed by signing up for your ‘Little Book of Friendship’, a resource pack which contains more information and tips on how to support those living with dementia to feel a part of our communities.[3]

5. We will review and adopt some of the suggestions from ACS best practice: to welcome disabled customers.[4]

6. We will make sure our organisation’s premises are accessible.

Beyond the legal requirement to ensure disabled customers can access your business, there are further steps to consider to make it easier and friendlier for them.

  • “Are there tables with rounded edges and corners? Is there clear leg space under tables to make them easy to use? These can help to reduce injury through accidental collisions.
  • It is easy to find things? Glass fronted or see-through cupboard doors with labels or photographs are useful, as are clear jars for coffee or tea on open shelving. Make it clear where things are helps people with dementia.
  • Think about the size and position of mirrors in the building. Do not place mirrors in corridors or navigation points as this can cause confusion.
  • Are glass doors clearly marked?
  • Are handrails available in between seating or by steps?
  • Is there contrast in colour from the floor to the walls to be used to add depth and perspective? Is there contrast in colour on the door handle to body of the door?
  • Is there sufficient spacing between displays, isles or walkways so can wheelchairs can easily get past? Are obstacles, sharp corners and hazards considered from wheelchair height and checked not blocking walkways?”[5]

7. We will review signage throughout our premises, including to and from toilets.

“Following a sequence of steps or instructions can be difficult for someone with dementia to remember. Therefore, signage needs to be consistent to allow them to effortlessly get to where they want to be without assistance.

  • Signage needs to consider people who are sitting down, or cannot look up.
  • Are your signs clear, in bold face with good contrast between text and background?
  • Are signs placed at key decision points for someone who is trying to navigate your premises for the first time?
  • Are there signs to and from the facilities, the toilets, café or restaurants, outside areas, customer service and payment points clear?”

“Difficulties people with dementia and carers face

Worries about lack of facilities to change a person if an accident happens. Concerns about what other users of the opposite gender might think if they have to go into the toilet to help.

  • Concerns about the person with dementia walking off whilst they are going to the toilet.
  • Small push button flushing mechanisms are difficult for people to use with arthritis or dexterity challenges.
  • Toilets blending into the wall if both are the same colour are difficult to distinguish, especially if in a rush.
  • Are hot and cold water functions on taps labelled clearly?
  • Are sinks, flushes, taps, and hand dryers traditional and clear of use? Are sensor taps and hand dryers labelled?
  • Do you have signs on the inside of the toilet door to direct people back out to help people to easily find their way?”[6]

8. We will become a Disability Confident business.[7]

Through the Disability Confident campaign, the government is working with employers to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations. The Disability Confident scheme identity is a means of communication. It is intended to inform the people you employ and any other disabled people who might be interested in your organisation, that you have a positive approach to employing disabled people.

Access to the guidance, self-assessments and resources is completely free. It has 3 levels that have been designed to support you on your disability confident journey: Committed (level 1); Employer (level 2); and Leader (level 3).

 

[1] The National Autistic Society. What is an Autism Hour? https://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/tmi/autism-hour/about.aspx

[2] Autism Ambassador - Southampton - Hampshire - Isle of Wight - Portsmouth. http://www.ascambassador.org.uk/Support

[3] Dementia Friends: An Alzheimer’s Society Initiative. https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/

[4] ACS | best practice. Welcoming Disabled Customers. https://www.acs.org.uk/sites/default/files/acs_disability_guide_d3_v1_0…

[5] Alzheimer’s Society. Dementia-Friendly Business Guide. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/form/order-dementia-friendly-business-gui…

[6] Alzheimer’s Society. Dementia-Friendly Business Guide. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/form/order-dementia-friendly-business-gui…

[7] GOV.UK. Disability Confident: how to sign up to the employer scheme. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/disability-confident-how-to-sign-up-to-the-…

The 'Friendly Fleet' family

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We would like sign the pledges and become part of the 'Friendly Fleet' family.

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