Retailers team up with Sparkle Sheffield to put on events for people with autism

Sparkle Sheffield founder Liesje Dusauzay with Lucy King from M&S. Photo: Anwar Suliman

Sparkle Sheffield founder Liesje Dusauzay with Lucy King from M&S. Photo: Anwar Suliman

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Sheffield retailers will offer people with autism and their families a special shopping experience this weekend.

Big names such as John Lewis and M&S have signed up to promote Autism Awareness Week alongside city charity Sparkle Sheffield on Saturday.

The retailers will open their doors an hour early or dedicate their first hour of trading on Saturday to people with autism.

The retailers will put on special offers and activities for customers while shouting about the charity's good work.

Sparkle Sheffield supports parents and families of children with autism.

Liesje Dusauzay, who founded the charity, said: "Marks and Spencer are the flagship of this event, aiming to give autistic children, adults, and anyone on the autistic spectrum a shopping experience like never before.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Denise Fox supports Sparkle Sheffield. Photo: Anwar Suliman

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Denise Fox supports Sparkle Sheffield. Photo: Anwar Suliman

"Marks and Spencer has offered personal shopping experiences, bra fitting services which can be booked for 10 to 20 minutes, beauty and skin care advice, men’s suit tailoring and school wear advice on hand.

"They are also offering food tasting and free hot drinks to all who attend.

"Starbucks in Fargate is creating a sensory room, revamping their drinks service, and the Sparkle team will be giving out free goody bags for the first 100 people.

"Virgin Money in Fargate is offering its games room as a safe escape for anyone who feels overwhelmed.

"The shops will have no music playing and will dim their lights where possible, to make the shopping experience less daunting.

"Social stories and maps will be given to all who attend and are of course welcome to go to these spots."

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Denise Fox will also be there on the day.

Lucy King, store manager at M&S in Fargate, said: “The whole team at Sheffield Fargate is proud to be supporting Sparkle Sheffield’s Autism Awareness Day.

"Opening earlier than usual, our extra special guests will be able to enjoy the very best of M&S – from bra fit, to suit tailoring, to school wear advice.

"It’s also really exciting that Rompa will transform part of our store into a sensory room, a real first for us.

“We’d like to thank Sparkle Sheffield for providing the team with training to help us better understand the needs of our customers with autism helping us to deliver a great service for them – on this special day and all year round”.

The full list of retailers taking part is: M&S, John Lewis, WH Smith, HMV
, Clarkes, Superdrug, Primark, Starbucks, Wilko, Argos, TK Maxx, Boots
, Virgin Money, Debenhams.

Sparkle Sheffield is also training staff at of Meadowhall, South Yorkshire Travel and M&S in autism awareness.

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