Quiet Time helping to reduce the stress of the weekly shop
It may not seem much, but for those who may have autism or sensitivities to light or sound, it can make a real difference to something which seems everyday to many islanders.
For those unfamiliar with autism, it is estimated that there are around 1,100 islanders in Jersey are on the autism spectrum.
Autism is described as a condition which may affect how an individual communicates, relates and interprets the world around them. It can take a variety of forms often being as unique as the person themselves. Whereas one person may have difficulty with communication or social interaction, another may find bright lights or certain noises overwhelming. Yet, living with autism does not mean that a person can not still live a healthy and fulfilling life.
But it can mean that day-to-day activities, such as supermarket shopping, can become an anxious or stressful event for someone who has, or lives with a person on the autism spectrum.
Since 2017, we've been running our dedicated ‘Quiet Hour’ in our Grand Marché stores.
Every week, for an entire hour, the cacophony of noises and hectic nature, which is often commonplace in our larger supermarkets, are put on pause for 60 minutes. For those unfamiliar with autism, it may seem a strange inconvenience to have little light or no sounds. But for those who have the condition, it really can make a great deal of difference to their shopping experience.
At the time, ‘Quiet Hours’ were a recognised initiative across retail stores in the United Kingdom but had not quite yet crossed the Channel to Jersey. But, it was thanks to combined efforts between Autism Jersey and us that saw Quiet Hours become a regular feature in island stores.
We have now decided to extend our Quiet Time hours, so customers can enjoy a calmer shopping experience, every Monday between 3pm and 5pm and every Saturday between 5pm and 7pm.
It is a very welcome addition for many, including Autism Jersey’s chief executive officer, Chris Dunne. He said: ‘An awareness and understanding of autism goes a long way to helping the people that we support on a daily basis. It just goes to show how some small changes can make a big difference to people with autism.’
In addition to the Quiet Time changes, several staff have also undergone autism awareness training in order to be available to help improve the shopping experience for those on the autism spectrum.
Now in its sixth year, our Quiet Time is still gaining positive reception from islanders.
Mark Cox, chief executive officer of CI Coop said: ‘The Coop is at the heart of our community. We recognise how much of a role we play in island life, so we wanted to be more aware and mindful of our customers’ diverse needs. When we were approached by Autism Jersey we thought that ‘quiet hour’ sounded like a fantastic initiative.
‘If you consider the hustle and bustle of a busy retail store, you can appreciate how this could potentially be overwhelming to some people.’