REPRESENT- DEBBIE HERNON – CHARTER WALK SHOPPING CENTRE
Debbie Hernon is a massive advocate for Inclusivity at Charter Walk, although during an extremely difficult pandemic period she has been able to build on previous years’ enormous efforts in making the Centre the heart of the Community.
Debbie’s ethos has been built over the last t4 years with a particular focus on Autism, training her staff in Autism Awareness, appointing Autism Champions and producing Autism guides and cards. There is a section on the website dedicated to accessibility including a virtual tour of the Centre to ensure that all shoppers are catered for. Just prior to covid Debbie secured £58k of funding from the council for the sensory room which was kept open during covid for shoppers who were on their essential shopping trips and needed use of that space. Alongside her dedication to Burnley’s autistic community, there is also an onsite working allotment ‘Budding Burnley’ bringing the community together with the help of volunteers. This allotment was so important during the pandemic, as it ensured donations continued to the Burnley FC foodbank.
During the pandemic, Debbie also introduced a mental health campaign in conjunction with a local organisation called ‘The Natter Shack Scheme’ to combat loneliness post-pandemic. Debbie is Vice-Chair of Burnley BID and was instrumental in the communication about covid restrictions within the Burnley area. Debbie is also part of the Burnley bond holders’ group and continued to work with retailers during the lockdown, supporting many businesses with their applications for grants and funding. There is a small management team of 3 managing a 280,000 sq ft outdoor shopping centre with challenges.
Their teamwork during the pandemic was key to the success post-pandemic. Community confidence is high, with low voids in the centre and footfall for 2021 was only 1.9% behind 2019 pre-covid.
.Charter Walk leads the way in Burnley for their initiatives and links with the community. As the community is so close knit in Burnley the centre recognised the need to celebrate individuals that went over and above during the pandemic. The dedication of Debbie and the team within the community is second to none. A true inspiration in Burnley.
Andrew Dean-Burnley BID Manager