Ranil Jayawardena—Member of Parliament for North East Hampshire—and Hampshire County and Hart District Councillor Steve Forster are encouraging Fleet-based businesses to get involved in a new ‘Friendly Fleet’ initiative which they hope will put Fleet on the map of as one of the leading towns in the UK for adopting a friendly and inclusive approach to people with autism, dementia and other lifelong disabilities.
The main aim of the project, Friendly Fleet, is to raise awareness of lifelong disabilities and to encourage businesses, as well as local services, schools and leisure facilities, to make small and easy changes to encourage affected families and individuals to see Fleet as a friendly place to visit and to make more use of its businesses.
The project has already attracted the backing of Hart District Council, Fleet Town Council, Hart Voluntary Action, Autism Ambassadors and Mustard Seed Autism Trust.
Fleet is already operating a Dementia Friendly programme. Friendly Fleet intends to build upon the success of this programme and its next focus will be on autism spectrum disorder. Organisers hope to encompass other lifelong disabilities, such as blindness and deafness in due course.
A launch event is being held on Wednesday 11 October, from 10am-12pm, in the Function Room at the Harlington Centre. It will be an opportunity for businesses to broaden their knowledge of autism spectrum disorder, find out how they can benefit from becoming autism friendly, and enrol on a free training day. Anyone that would like to attend, should register by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ranil Jayawardena, MP, said:
“This fantastic initiative is good for Fleet and good for the families of those with lifelong disabilities such as autism. It will provide yet another reason for people to shop in Fleet and will go a long way to making life a little bit easier for people with autism. I know there is much more to come from Friendly Fleet.”
Cllr Steve Forster, Hampshire County Councillor for Fleet, said:
“This is great project which I am pleased has support from all of Hart’s councillors. It’s relevant to just about every retailer and service provider in Fleet town centre and as such I would encourage as many businesses as possible to take part, and attend the launch event.”