By Derick Jackson, Head of Retail Management, GVA UK
It is well known that creating vibrant communities around managed retail centres makes them more attractive to occupiers, benefits retailers by increasing footfall and enhances their reputation and also improves the customer shopping experience, all of which is intrinsically linked to the protection of capital values.
As such, in addition to delivering a high level of service to our clients and occupiers, it is crucial we provide an inclusive environment that is easy to navigate for everyone who visits.
Approximately 850,000 people are living with dementia in the UK which is set to rise to over one million by 2025 and two million by 2051. At GVA we are delighted to be working with Alzheimer’s Society as our charity partner, raising not only money but, importantly, awareness of dementia and how it affects people.
As part of our commitment we have been undertaking dementia friendly audits on all of the developments we manage across the UK. GVA is the first property consultancy to do this across their entire managed portfolio. The audits are particularly relevant to shopping centres, mixed use schemes and retail parks, all of which are visited frequently by the public.
The audit uses a scoring system checklist in a number of key areas such as, signage, lighting, navigation, seating and more. Using the results of this, we have been able to create an action plan to make the developments more relaxing, accessible and helpful for those with dementia.
So far, since the start of 2016, we have raised £89,000 for Alzheimer’s Society by organising and taking part in a number of events. We are also delighted to be supporting Dementia Awareness Week by raising money and awareness through an internal communications campaign, volunteering and quizzes.
The property sector can easily overlook the fact there are barriers preventing people with dementia feeling comfortable when visiting our buildings, but with a little support and understanding, everyone in the community can do their bit to help people with dementia to live well. In this context, the property sector has key role to play.
Tim McLachlan, Operations Director, Alzheimer’s Society Greater London comments: “We are delighted that in addition to nominating Alzheimer’s Society as its Charity of the Year and raising funds, GVA is taking up the call to action to make our communities more dementia friendly starting with the properties they manage, raising awareness of dementia and being an active part of the Pan-London Dementia Action Alliance.”