THREE superstore branches in the Chester and Ellesmere Port areas are to run an 'Inclusive Hour' for people with autism and dementia.

Asda is extending its trial following successful trials in Manchester and Kent regions. The initiative aims to create the ideal shopping environment for those with disabilities, after recognising the importance of every customer’s needs.

Three stores are taking part – one in Chester Greyhound Retail Park, the Asda Supercentre in Ellesmere Port and the Broughton Living store.

Back in 2016, Asda was the first retailer to introduce the Quiet Hour and has since been working with a number of charities and local authorities to further understand what simple changes can be made to the store environment. This is to help aid customers shopping experience and make it more inclusive for people with hidden conditions.

On a Tuesday morning, the selected stores are launching an hour for local people with autism and dementia who may feel intimidated or stressed by noise and disturbance.

Across these stores, 150 Asda colleagues have gained a better understanding about dementia and autism by undertaking awareness sessions.

Asda launched the 'Inclusive Hour' trial to work closely with community groups to understand their shopping needs which includes cutting out many electronic distractions, such as music and display TVs, while not using the Tannoy for any announcements.

These small steps will ensure there are fewer disruptions around the store for people who are sometimes troubled by loud noises or become easily distracted and confused, which include:

• Turning off the Asda FM radio channel and in-store Tannoy system.

• Turning down the volume of the ‘beeps’ on all checkouts.

• Prevention of any unnecessary alarm barriers going off.

• Turning off any door heaters/blowers.

• Ensure all specialist equipment eg wheelchairs, electric scooters are available and accessible.

• Lighting levels dropped.

• Turning off display TVs and Health and Beauty fixtures that contain lighting.

• Colleagues working during the Inclusive Hour will keep noise to a minimum, especially when replenishing shelves.

Jodie Tate, Asda vice president of Central Retail Operations and chair of Asda’s Inclusion Board, said: “The ‘inclusive hour’ trial in this region shows how far we’ve come in recognising the needs of our customers with disabilities and/or hidden conditions and to promote inclusive shopping.

“I’m really pleased we’re now in the next stage of our trial by testing the ‘Inclusive Hour’ further across stores in Cheshire.

"We already provide equipment and services to make working and shopping with us as easy and accessible as possible – whether that's our adapted wheelchair trollies, hearing loop or our accessible toilets.

"It’s great that we are extending our support further by increasing the number of locations that will host weekly ‘Inclusive Hours’ to make the shopping experience better for customers with hidden conditions such as autism and dementia.”

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said; “We hear too often from people with dementia that once-simple things like popping to the shops can become almost impossible as their symptoms worsen and certain environments can be increasingly difficult to deal with.

“As 850,000 people have dementia across the UK, it’s vital businesses ensure they are taking steps to become dementia friendly and these customers are supported to feel included in their local community.

"To achieve this, we work closely with businesses across the country to implement the principles of Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Business Guide. It is great to have Asda on board with this and we hope this paves the way for us to work together more closely in the future.”

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition. For more information, visit