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How Asda is helping disabled customers during the COVID pandemic

Covid-19 has had a big effect on how we all do our shopping, which is why at Asda we have done all we can to make our stores as accessible as possible, as Gareth Hinds, Senior Manager for Diversity & Inclusion, explains...

July 30, 2020 08:22am
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We know people within our communities have different wants and needs from a supermarket and we are proud of how our stores have helped at what has been a really challenging time.

Depending on where you are in the UK, shielding has just or is about to end shortly, and we want to reassure everybody we will continue to do the right thing and be there for all of our customers.

Our colleagues have guides on helping disabled customers as part of our annual work to promote Purple Tuesday – a scheme to improve store experiences. This includes practical tips such as asking a customer if they want to move to a quieter place, sign language suggestions and emphasising the importance of being considerate and patient. We also talk to our colleagues about the ways they can help support disabled customers, such as offering chairs where there are queues and priority access.

When in store we understand there may be concerns from those with invisible illnesses, especially as it may mean that some customers won’t be able to wear face coverings. To help, we will be playing short messages on Asda radio asking for support and understanding from customers. In some parts of the UK, colleagues are not required to wear face coverings masks and for a variety of reasons they may not be able to, so we have invited them to wear badges explaining this and are also asking for understanding from customers.

Colleagues may also be wearing badges if they are hard of hearing. Face coverings make sounds muffled and also remove the ability for them to lip read, so we have introduced these optional badges to ask if customers could speak up to help interaction.

We know that those who are vulnerable may have struggled to get to store, which is why we increased our weekly delivery slots from 250,000 to over 750,000 and we will continue to prioritise those who already have a priority delivery slot with us.

The Volunteer Shopping Card is also still available so that a vulnerable or disabled person can add funds to an e-card for a carer, family member, friend or other volunteer to shop on their behalf in our stores.

We are delighted that this approach has the support of charities, including the Alzheimer’s Society.

Alice Billin, Programme Partnership Officer, said: “We know that going out and about remains a concern for the 850,000 people with dementia, as well as their families and carers. With shielding rules soon lifting, we are delighted that supermarkets including Asda have committed to ongoing support measures as lockdown rules ease, helping reassure customers while shopping.

“It’s hugely encouraging to see Asda raising awareness to colleagues and customers that some people with certain health conditions or hidden disabilities, including dementia, can be exempt from wearing a face covering if it is difficult for them to do so.”

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