Manchester Day, the annual celebration of “everything great about the city,” is back this year after two years of hiatus due to the Covid pandemic. As part of Manchester’s Our Year programme, this year’s celebration will focus on our city’s children and young people.
The celebration will include the Manchester Day Parade, which will follow a route that runs through Deansgate, St. Mary’s Gate, Cross Street, John Dalton street, and then back to its starting point on the corner of Deansgate and the Beetham Tower. The parade will start at 1pm and end around 2:30pm on Sunday, 19 June. The city centre’s squares (Cathedral Gardens, Exchange Square, Piccadilly Gardens) will also feature various activities, performances and international food & drink throughout the afternoon, from 11am to 5pm.
For many families of children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND), such environments can be very challenging – whether it’s the hustle & bustle or the noises potentially causing a sensory overload, or the sheer number of people making it more difficult to move about and access facilities. We hope to somehow be able to alleviate some of these concerns through this guide showing relevant information such as disabled parking, quiet spaces, accessible toilets, Changing Places, and ongoing work around making Manchester’s public events more inclusive for all families.
- Disabled Parking and Travel Information
- Accessible Viewing Areas
- Accessible Toilets
- Changing Places
- Quiet Spaces
- Efforts to make the event more accessible
The city centre can easily be reached by walking, cycling, or via public transport (as recommended by the Manchester Day organisers). If you’re using the Metrolink, note that all trams have a designated area for wheelchair and mobility scooter users, which you can also use for buggies if it’s not needed by a wheelchair user. You can also download the Metrolink access guide for more information.
If you do wish to go there by car, you can find a list of nearby disabled parking on the Manchester City Council website.
Road Closures and Parking Suspensions
Please note that there will be road closures and parking suspensions at the city centre on the 19th of June. Click the link for more information.
Accessible Viewing Areas
There will be two accessible viewing areas for the parade:
- at the junction of St John Street near St John’s Gardens
- at the space outside Marks & Spencer on Market Street
You can find more information about these on the Parade Accessibility page of the Manchester Day website.
There are plenty of accessible/ “disabled toilets” in town, some requiring a RADAR key and some not.
Arndale Centre : There are accessible toilets at the three main toilet facilities in the mall. You will need a RADAR key to access it or request a toilet attendant to open the door for you. A note for those with children hypersensitive to sound: It can get quite busy here and the hand dryers can easily be heard while you’re waiting for an staff member to open the disabled toilet door. They also have a Changing Places toilet, near Shopmobility.
Manchester Art Gallery : They have accessible toilets on the ground and first floors.
Manchester Central Library : There are standard disabled toilets as well as a Changing Places toilet on the lower ground floor of the library.
Manchester Town Hall Extension Public Toilets : There are standard disabled toilets as well as a Changing Places toilet outside the Town Hall, along Lloyd Street.
Marks & Spencer : There are two accessible toilets at the first floor of the store. It is relatively more quiet and less busy here than at the Arndale Centre. You won’t need a RADAR key to use these toilets. Please note that there’s a narrow passageway leading from the main store area to the toilets, in case your child worries about such corridors.
National Football Museum : There are accessible toilets on the ground floor of the museum, near the shop and cafe, as well as on levels 1, 2 and 4. Please note that they now charge entry to the museum; Manchester residents can have free entry upon presentation of proof of residency.
People’s History Museum : There are accessible toilets on the ground floor of the museum, one near the reception area and another in the Engine Hall.
Science and Industry Museum : There are disabled toilets on the ground and first floors of the New Warehouse building. You won’t need a RADAR key to access these toilets. They also have a Changing Places toilet but a RADAR key is needed to access it. You can also ask a member of staff for access.
Changing Places are accessible toilets with more space and extra features (such as adult-sized changing bench, tracking hoist system or mobile hoist) for people (and their assistants) whose needs cannot be met by standard accessible toilets.
We only know of four Changing Places toilets in Manchester city centre: one at the public toilets outside of the Town Hall Extension, one inside the Central Library, one in Manchester Arndale near Shopmobility, and at the Science and Industry Museum.
Some neurodiverse children and young people may struggle with noises and crowds, and may at some point need a quiet space to self-regulate or recover from all the sensory input. Below are some locations that may have a quiet room available during Manchester Day:
Creative Together (Swan Buildings) : The Manchester Day organisers informed us that there will be a quiet space at Creative Together in the Northern Quarter. The place also has a small kitchen, a cafe serving drinks and cake, and an oasis courtyard seating area.
Manchester Art Gallery : MAG offers a Quiet Room during their Open Doors sessions. It may be worth asking reception if you can use this space today, if needed.
National Football Museum : The museum offers a Quiet Room during their autism-friendly sessions. It may be worth asking reception if you can use this space today, if needed.
Manchester Day Listening Session
In the lead-up to the event, we worked with the city council’s Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team to host a listening session for the Manchester Day organisers to hear from parents and carers about concerns and things to consider to make the event more inclusive to our SEND families.
There were a lot of feedback and ideas shared amongst the group, which included parents & carers, creative producers Walk the Plank, communications and marketing specialists, and Equalities specialist Sarah H., who chaired the meeting.
As an outcome of the meeting, the organisers added a Parade Accessibility page on the Manchester Day website, describing the location of the two accessible viewing areas for the parade:
- the junction of St John Street near St John’s Gardens
- a space outside Marks & Spencer on Market Street (which features benches as well as shade provided by trees)
The accessible areas will be clearly signposted and managed by Showsec. Proof of disability will not be required to access these spaces and they will operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
They also published the location of a quiet space at Creative Together, located in the Swan Buildings on Swan Street in the Northern Quarter. They have a small kitchen and a cafe that will be serving drinks and cake, and an oasis courtyard seating area. If you need help finding them, please phone the centre on 07966 286217 and ask for Zoe.
There were a number of other ideas that came out of the session that may not be implemented this year but will be considered for future events, including neurodiversity training, more accessibility features, improved promotion to SEND families, and language interpretation (including BSL) where appropriate.