By Jack Walker
The charity Guide Dogs for the Blind has been at the Victoria shopping centre in Leeds today to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by visually impaired shoppers as part of Purple Tuesday.
Purple Tuesday is the UK’s only accessible shopping day, aimed at highlighting the needs of shoppers with disabilities.
Charlotte Walton, regional fundraiser for the charity, said: “People usually think of wheelchair users when they think of people with disabilities.
“Shoppers with visual and sensory impairments have needs too.”
The government estimates that only 5 per cent of people classed as having a disability require a wheelchair.
Anna Bisco, a volunteer with the charity, said: “Legally, shoppers with guide dogs can go anywhere.
“But sometimes, people don’t want dogs in their shops.”
This is the second Purple Tuesday that the charity has attended, and Guide Dogs has also been chosen as the Victoria centre’s Charity of the Year.
This means that the charity was awarded £2,500 as a bursary.
In return, any store that raises £5,000 for Guide Dogs will be allowed to name a puppy.
Charlotte said: “I hope they name the puppy Victoria, or Vic if it’s a boy!”
As well as fundraising, the charity brought along a sensory unit, allowing shoppers to experience what it would be like to shop blind.
Elsewhere in the centre, John Lewis and Partners took part in Purple Tuesday by dimming their lights, turning off music and sounds from TV screens and reducing sensory stimuli on their shop floors.
It said that these actions were designed to “create a calmer, more inclusive environment” for shoppers.
Opera North was also in attendance, presenting a dementia-friendly performance of part of La Boheme.
In the afternoon, Breast Cancer Haven hosted a yoga session.
According to figures from purpletuesday.org.uk, the total spending power of people with a disability and their families, known as the Purple Pound, is estimated to be worth £249 billion a year.
The organisation said: “Committing to just one action will open companies’ doors to a wider audience.
“Additionally, making a commitment to disabled customers will show customers, existing and new, that those organisations are an advocate for equality.”