Glasgow Film Theatre 

Jodie Wilkinson, Public Engagement Coordinator at the Glasgow Film Theatre, tells us about what it’s like to be the first cinema in the UK to receive the Autism Friendly Award.

What changes have had a positive impact on autistic people and their families?

We collaborated with autistic pupils at Duncanrig Secondary School, welcoming them to our Access Film Club, which has had a really positive impact on young film enthusiasts.

I enjoyed that we got to go to Glasgow and we didn’t need our parents or anything, we just went as pals. – A student

One girl, who was the only autistic person in her mainstream school class, attended our Autism and Me Access Film Club special event with Rory Hoy. She said "It was great to meet someone like me!"

Which changes did you make as part of the Award are you most proud of?

We have two autistic volunteers from The National Autistic Society Scotland who signpost autism interest activity at our events.

In April 2018, a couple came along to our Access Film Club to find out more information about autism and how to seek help with a referral for a diagnosis. They came back a month later to watch another film and thank us for helping them to understand autism further.

We have a designated relaxed space within our venue, and via our autism awareness training, improved equality, diversity and inclusion training and induction programmes. Our staff and volunteers are dramatically more aware of how to best serve our autistic patrons. Learning is shared across departments and feeds into front of house delivery and enhances programming and marketing communications.

What feedback have you had from autistic people and their families?

The GFT has to be one of the most all round disability-friendly and inclusive places in the city, if not the country. Autism friendly, closed caption, Take Two /Take 2: Access family events, dedicated disability-friendly showings and genuinely brilliant and knowledgeable staff (amongst other things) all add up to make the GFT a perfect example of how a venue can tackle the issues of inclusion and get it right. And the fact that it's a small cinema with charity status and a majority of volunteer staff makes it all the more remarkable…a brilliant venue that you should check out. – Ashton Lamont, Autastic! blog

What difference has having the Autism Friendly Award made to your organisation?

The award has helped us to achieve a broader visibility of the accessible events we run, from our Access Film Club for people aged 15+ to our Take 2 Access for children and families.

We hope that this broader visibility helps other cinemas gain confidence to follow suit. We have a duty to be making sure we are recognising the diverse needs of our visitors and responding proactively.

Additionally, it’s been important to recognise our front of house staff who work hard to make sure the venue is inclusive for all of our patrons.

How has the National Autistic Society supported your business or venue?

The National Autistic Society supported us with event programming, mentoring advice, marketing and promotion of our venue as part of the award.