Local businesses, charity groups and community members celebrated Northwich gaining Makaton Friendly Status on Thursday 3rd October at Stateside Bar and Kitchen.

In August the town was named Makaton Friendly, the first town in the North West to achieve this status. Makaton is a simpler form of sign language which was developed to help those who find it hard to communicate.

Northwich has made its services accessible to Makaton users by training over 200 people from 30 local businesses in the town.

The project was spearheaded by Cheshire Down’s Syndrome Support Group (CDSSG) and funded by the Northwich Business Improvement District (BID), Northwich Rotary Club, Vale Royal Rotary Club, Northwich Town Council and Cheshire Community Foundation.

CDSSG’s CEO, Julie Duff, spoke at the event and expressed her pride in completing the journey to make Northwich Makaton Friendly.

“Taking part in this project has made me extremely proud to be a part of a community like Northwich which is hugely accepting and hugely welcoming to people with disabilities,” said Julie.

Julie also announced that CDSSG would love to continue the project and take it further, while talking about the introduction of Makaton cafés into the town too.

“It’s an opportunity for business-owners to continue to learn the skills. We’ll also have the cafés headed up by our young people with Down’s Syndrome to give them an opportunity to get out into the community more and use their Makaton skill-set that they perhaps haven’t used in a while.”

Julie also has big plans to train multi-national brands to become Makaton friendly with the leftover funding.

At the event, Northwich BID Manager Jane Hough expressed her support and pride for all the things Northwich is doing to be more accessible to all.

“What we can see in Northwich is a sense of civic pride and community ownership that is continuing to build and develop.

“The bid to make Northwich Makaton friendly is just the latest in a long line of BID projects and initiatives that we’re going to be getting involved in to help make the town a more accessible and friendly place for people who visit.”