The Palms Shopping Centre goes Platinum!

27th June 2016

A huge congratulations to the Palms Shopping Centre which this week was awarded a certificate for its newly achieved Platinum accessibility rating- becoming the first business in the South Island to achieve this milestone! What a fantastic achievement.

The Palms Shopping Centre goes PlatinumThe Palms Shopping Centre first started their journey towards Platinum-rated accessibility in July 2015 when they commissioned a Be. Welcome Assessment. Initially receiving a Gold rating they were given an accessibility report and a plan to work towards achieving Platinum.

Be. Welcome Coach Jane Cowan-Harris told us that the team at the Palms were a great, enthusiastic team to work with who could really see the benefits for their customers. Jane said that the most commendable improvements that were made were the much improved signage throughout the centre, the purchase of a mobility scooter and the redesign of the toilets to increase the size of the accessible toilets, with better height seats.

We asked the centre manager Emma Smith a few questions about the Palms Shopping Centre's journey and here’s what she had to say:

How did the Palms Shopping Centre’s accessibility journey begin and what are the drivers behind your commitment to accessibility?

Our sister centre, Bayfair Shopping Centre in Mt Maunganui, encouraged us to take part. They became the first shopping centre in New Zealand to undergo the Be. Welcome assessment in May 2015, and in March 2016 were reassessed to achieve a Platinum rating. Their example showed us the obvious advantages of striving for a 100% accessible experience. We are really excited and proud of what we have achieved.
How has your understanding of accessibility changed throughout this process?

The workshop was extremely beneficial in putting ourselves in others shoes. Ensuring the centre is accessible for all our customers is paramount – we want everyone’s experience here to be a positive one.
What have been the reactions of the staff and how has it influenced organisational culture?

The team have been very engaged throughout the journey and enjoyed the success, not in just the award but the support from our customers. It was great to be able to provide a mobility scooter. Working as a team on designing the new bathroom facilities means everyone takes ownership.
How was it working with Be. Accessible?

Fantastic. Feedback was always constructive. Jane [the Be. Coach] has been brilliant to work with and very encouraging.

Why would you recommend other businesses embark on an accessible journey and what are the benefits of being 100% accessible?

It makes sense, it’s not as difficult as you think and it affects more people than you realise.