How local businesses can make a difference to disabled children and young people and their families who are, or would like to be, their customers.
Not all disabilities or special needs are obvious, which is why Wandsworth Council have come up with an ID card to make it easier for parents or carers to flag up if they need a bit of extra assistance while out and about with a disabled child.
The Wandsworth Additional Needs Database card (‘WAND card’), is an enhanced provision to help a child or young person from 0 to 18 years old whose needs significantly impact on their ability to get around to shops and services. Their special need or disability might be due to one or more of the following: physical disability, major visual or hearing impairment, a chronic physical illness, autistic and communication disorders, learning disability or pre-school delay.
Launched over five years ago, the WAND card has proved a huge hit with parents, carers and young people who find it saves having to give embarrassing explanations when they are out and about. It is helpful to businesses too, to see the card and it can also be used as proof of eligibility for discounts or concessions, where these apply. For example, Places for People Leisure Centres offer WAND card holders and a parent or carer, free swimming and up to 50% off other activities and Battersea Park Children’s Zoo offer the WAND card holder and a parent or carer free entry.
Launched over a year ago, following requests from WAND Card holders for an older young person's version of the WAND card, the WAND+ card for young people 18 to 24 years olds with special educational needs or disabilities is already held by 40 Wandsworth young people with SENDs. More of an ID card at present, we are looking for WAND Makers who are keen to make it easier for WAND+ Card holders to enjoy going out and about in Wandsworth.
You don’t have to offer a facility to join in the scheme. You can join in to help the current 1,000 plus WAND card holders by offering help in other ways. To be listed as ‘WAND Makers’, businesses need to sign up to support WAND in at least three ways. The following list gives examples of how you can help but the scheme is open other ideas from the businesses themselves:
Display a WAND sticker
Display our WAND leaflets
Have a staff member link person to Disabled Children’s Register (DCR) who can liaise with us about assistance for customers and update us on what you offer
Offer WAND card holders or their carers concessions
Help fetching or packing shopping
Special discounts or reduced price goods
Baby changing room and disabled toilets
A quiet area for calming a distressed child or young person
A separate area for breast feeding or feeding a disabled child
‘WAND quiet’ sessions for children who get overwhelmed during normal service hours
In return, we can help businesses by:
- Providing stickers to show they support the scheme
- Giving shop staff tips on how to help shoppers with a disabled child
- Providing awareness training or guidance on further sources of help
- Helping employees with their own needs if they are resident in the Borough and have child with a disability or special need
- Promoting shops, restaurants, surgeries and other businesses that support the WAND scheme, helping to raise their profile and bring in more custom to their venue
- Listing their business on the Family Information Service website
- and listing them in "Where can I use my WAND card?".
Southside is the first shopping centre in the borough to come on board as supporters of the WAND card. Beforehand, the team at Southside worked with Wandsworth Council to improve the centre’s disability awareness. This included the development of a training course which all staff attended.
Speaking about the training, Neil Churchill from Southside said: “We pride ourselves on making everyone’s visit to Southside as enjoyable as possible. This was a very useful course which has really helped raise our awareness of the different forms of disability and how Southside’s staff can best provide help and support for all, including carers.”
A team of volunteer Parent Champions are now helping to spread the word about the WAND card. These are parents of children with special needs or disabilities who are users of the WAND card. They are keen to encourage more families to share the benefits and also to help shops and businesses who would like to support the scheme and benefit from more customer footfall. Their vision is to have a hub of shops, services and places to eat in each Town Centre where the WAND sticker is on display so that families know they are welcome.
If your business would like to participate in this scheme, please contact Lucia Daniels or Eleanor Thain at the Family Information Service, Department of Education and Social Services, Wandsworth Town Hall, SW18 2PU. You can email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8871 7899 and we will either send you a joining pack or arrange for a Parent Champion to visit you to explain more about the scheme.
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