Thorley Park Sainsbury's pioneers help for disabled customers
Sainsbury’s supermarket at Thorley Park is trialling a new initiative for shoppers with hidden disabilities.
Customers can pick up a lanyard, which has been designed to act as a discreet sign for store staff that they may need additional support.
Launched initially in Sainsbury’s Barnstaple, the scheme helps those with a number of disabilities, such as autism, dementia, visual or hearing impairment.
Colleagues will be happy to provide extra support such as opening a new checkout lane, assisting with finding items or simply giving them more time at the till.
Lanyards will be free and for each customer to keep so they can wear it every time they come into store.
Sainsbury’s is the first supermarket to test the initiative, following Gatwick Airport’s successful launch, distributing over 10,000 lanyards.
By using the same sunflower symbol as Gatwick, Sainsbury’s hopes to encourage other retailers to follow suit, meaning customers have the option to wear their lanyard in shops across the UK, in the knowledge that store colleagues will recognise what it stands for.
Tim Fallowfield, company secretary and corporate services director for Sainsbury’s, said: “We want to be the most inclusive retailer and we understand that a busy supermarket environment can present challenges for some of our customers. As the first retailer to offer this service, this initiative is just one example of the steps we are taking to give our customers the best possible experience when shopping. We are working with our colleagues to ensure that they are fully equipped to provide assistance to those who need it and we encourage feedback from local communities where we are trialling the initiative.”
Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “It’s great to see a supermarket like Sainsbury’s lead the way in trialling initiatives like this. Busy shopping environments can sometimes overwhelm autistic customers and others with hidden disabilities. By introducing schemes like this, Sainsbury’s is continuing to take important steps towards our shared vision of making shops and businesses across the UK autism friendly.”