What is Purple Tuesday and why are we supporting it?
By Tanya Dorrity, Community Officer
You may have noticed an increase in discussion around hidden disabilities at the Co-op over the past few months. Perhaps you've also noticed two services now offered in our stores:
- Quiet Hour in our Grande Marché stores. For one hour every Monday we turn off the lights, and switch off the music and the sounds on the tills. The aim is to make it an easier shopping environment for people who are on the autism spectrum, but everyone is welcome.
- The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, which is now a permanent initiative in all our stores. This scheme offers islanders with hidden disabilities the option to wear a Sunflower lanyard or pin badge to alert colleagues that they may need additional support.
The announcement that our Sunflower Lanyard scheme is now a permanent service coincides with our sponsorship of Purple Tuesday in Guernsey, which falls on Tuesday 13 November.
In Guernsey, Purple Tuesday is one of the initiatives of the larger ‘Accessible Town’ project. The project focuses on improving accessibility in its widest context in Guernsey. The We all matter Eh? group are encouraging more of our 13,000 disabled islanders and 4,000+ carers to shop, eat out and take an active part in our community.
So what's involved in Purple Tuesday?
Purple Tuesday is the UK’s first accessible shopping day, established to recognise the importance and needs of disabled consumers and promote inclusive shopping.
It is taking place on 13 November 2018 to coincide with the run up to the peak Christmas period. It ties in perfectly with Guernsey’s first Accessible Christmas Shopping and Lights evening on 3 December.
Working with their partners, We all matter eh? plan to celebrate and promote the day by producing Hints and tips for businesses on how to make shopping more accessible, and running workshops for companies to improve their disability confidence.
What’s it all about?
Nearly one in every five people in the UK has a disability or impairment, and over half of households have a connection to someone with a disability. Their collective spending power – the Purple Pound – is worth £249 billion to the UK economy. Statistics show that islanders with disabilities contribute £243 million to the Guernsey economy.
However, this potential is not being fully realised. There are still real and perceived barriers that make it harder for people with disabilities to find work, spend money online and in store, and enjoy a drink or meal out.
The aim of Purple Tuesday is to make customer-facing businesses more aware of these opportunities and challenges. It hopes to inspire them to improve the disabled customer experience in the long term.
Why is the Co-op keen to get involved with Purple Tuesday?
As a locally owned Co-operative we feel a real sense of responsibility to our customers and the wider community.
If we can make our customers' journeys through any of our businesses a more comfortable experience, then we believe this is the right thing to do. We’re already doing this in a number of ways:
- Colleagues who have undertaken the training for the Sunflower scheme feel empowered to ask reassuring questions to our customers who might need an extra bit of support whilst shopping.
- We‘ve worked with Access 4 All to see what changes we should make to our stores to help with access. The suggestions will be implemented in all our future store re-fits and new builds, becoming business-as-usual.
So what's the Co-op doing to support Purple Tuesday?
- We are offering training sessions to other retailers on implementing the Sunflower scheme in their stores. This training is in partnership with We all matter eh?
- We are sitting on the discussion panel for a fireside chat on Tuesday 13 November at the Chamber of Commerce to discuss access and retailers.
- We are fundraising throughout the week with collection buckets in all our Guernsey stores.
- Our town shops will be decorated with purple bunting, and store colleagues will be wearing purple to show support and raise awareness of this event on Tuesday 13 November.