New scheme to support islanders with hidden disabilities

New scheme to support islanders with hidden disabilities

25 June 2018

Shoppers with hidden disabilities such as dementia, hard of hearing, visual impairments and learning difficulties will have support from our Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, which aims to raise awareness of those that may need assistance.

The Society is working in partnership with local charities to launch the scheme in our Grand Marché stores in Jersey and Guernsey on Monday 25 June. Islanders with hidden disabilities have the option to wear a sunflower lanyard or a pin badge, which says, ‘I may need support’.

These are offered on a voluntary basis from all Grand Marché customer service desks. This scheme aims to raise awareness among Co-op colleagues of the diverse and unseen disabilities they may come across in islanders so that they can recognise, reassure and respond accordingly.

The Co-op has run training sessions for its colleagues to support and improve the shopping experience for islanders with hidden disabilities. In the training, staff have learned about the challenges customers with these varied disabilities can encounter, such as needing more time to process information or prepare themselves, difficulty in following verbal instructions or using technology, a sense of feeling overwhelmed in an unfamiliar environment and not being able to interpret body language or facial expressions.

The scheme is part of the Society’s disability and inclusion strategy, which aims to change attitudes and improve the quality of life for disabled islanders and their carers, so that they can be active and engaged socially, economically and culturally.

The Channel Islands Co-operative Society’s Community Officer, Tanya Dorrity said: ‘Customers with hidden disabilities face challenges in a supermarket, which might make the experience unpleasant for them. As a community retailer, we feel it’s our duty to provide as much support as possible for disabled islanders. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme will allow our colleagues to recognise shoppers with invisible disabilities so that we can support them in any way we can to make their journey through our stores better.’

Karen Blanchford, Executive Director for the Guernsey Disability Alliance said: ‘It’s great to see the Co-op representing islanders with hidden disabilities in this way. It’s important we realise that not all disabilities are visible, so we should all make a conscious effort to be more aware of the challenges that islanders with hidden disabilities face, and be supportive in whatever way we can.’

‘The Co-op’s launch of the hidden disabilities lanyard scheme is another excellent example of their commitment to equality and their customer charter, ensuring each customer’s shopping experience is a positive one.'