On Tuesday afternoon, 28 January, Cranleigh will see the beginning of a community-wide project to make shopping easier for those who need a gentler experience when they are out and about in the village.
SMART Cranleigh is working in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and many Cranleigh businesses to develop Slow Shopping® village-wide. From the end of January, on Tuesday afternoons each week, shops, businesses, the Arts and Leisure Centres and all those who serve our community will provide an enhanced service to make life easier, less hurried and with more support for specific needs.
Each organisation has participated in the training and considered how to make some simple changes to make their services even more accessible; this might include how customers get into a shop, the availability of appropriate seating, reducing sound and general shop floor busy activity like shelf stacking, better use of lighting, and access to toilet facilities.
The project is for all ages, for those with obvious needs such as wheelchair users and also those with hidden difficulties, such as hearing or visual impairment, dementia, or autism.
Training was provided by Katherine Vero, the Slow Shopping® founder, invited by SMART Cranleigh to come to the village for 3 days to explain what Slow Shopping® is and do the necessary training. This covered communication, how to support people with hidden disabilities, how to help people feel valued, ideas for assessing and improving shop and café environments and putting together an action plan for improvement.
Rosemary Hurtley of Smart Cranleigh, Anne Milton and Katherine Vero at the 140 celebration
Participants came from the Arts and Leisure centres, Three Horseshoes pub, library, independent shops and the three supermarkets as well as local care agencies and schools. The training took place in 3 different venues at times to suit retail. Participants were given workbooks and certificates.
This was followed by a series of visits by Katherine to the different shops to discuss some of the things they might be able to do. One or two places looked at new experiences they could add to attract people to come at these times, such as a slow lunch in a café or film shown in a pub, making Cranleigh an even more compelling destination.
The three days of events concluded with a celebration of the initiative with Anne Milton and the Mayor of Waverley, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and both new and longstanding businesses. The evening event was generously hosted by One Forty.
Slow Shopping® is a recognised quality of time and service and participating businesses will be accredited locally by Easter. This active approach provides a bridge into retail for vulnerable people and it is hoped that Cranleigh will become known as a destination place for inclusive kind shopping.
Enabled and championed by SMART Cranleigh, supported by the Chamber of Commerce.