Alley Theatre Achieves Autism Friendly Status

Strabane venue leads the way in the North West by implementing new measures to ensure greater accessibility and awareness

The Alley Arts and Conference Centre in Strabane has become the first arts and cultural venue in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area to achieve the Autism Impact Award.

Developed by Autism NI, the award recognises work done to create a more 'autism friendly environment' within venues and organisations by equipping staff with a better understanding of the condition.

Alley Theatre staff who recently completed a full day workshop on the fundamentals of autism as well as two successful autism champions who achieved AQA on Features of Autism Spectrum Disorder will be presented with certificates on Saturday June 24 by Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor, Cllr Maolíosa McHugh.

The Alley, which will also receive a plaque for its achievements, is hoped to be one of a number of cultural venues across the district to become autism friendly by 2018. The Council's Access and Inclusion Project is supported by Public Health Agency to ensure it helps create awareness around the issues facing those with autism and is taking a pro-active approach towards encouraging businesses and service providers across the Council area to do what they can to make their premises autism friendly.

The Mayor said: 'I am very much aware of the difficulties individuals with autism and their families experience on a daily basis in terms of social interaction and communication. Any proactive steps which provides support and creates a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder is welcome news. I am delighted that the Council through its Access and Inclusion Project is doing its bit to make arts and cultural venues more accessible and autism friendly.'

Christine English, Autism NI’s Development Manager said: 'We are delighted to work in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council as they work to become an Autism Friendly Council.

'Autism NI have been working with the Council’s Culture Section for over a year as part of the Access and Inclusion Project to provide training and support to a number of venues through our Impact Award Scheme, which awards and celebrates organisations who are committed to Autism Accessibility.

'We congratulate the Alley Arts and Conference Centre on being the first venue in the area to achieve this award and look forward to continuing this great partnership to increase accessibility in other venues across the Council.'

For more information on the Access and Inclusion Programme contact louise.boye@derrystrabane.com or telephone 02871 253 253 extension 4349, or 028 7137 6 646. To see what's coming up at the Alley Theatre go to www.alley-theatre.com.