The Channel Islands Co-operative Society Limited commits to supporting islanders with disabilities

The Channel Islands Co-operative Society Limited commits to supporting islanders with disabilities

05 November 2018

THE Channel Islands Co-operative Society Limited is delighted to announce that its Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme is now a permanent service across all of its stores in Jersey and Guernsey.

The trial scheme was launched earlier this year in June to help raise awareness amongst Co-op colleagues of the diverse and unseen disabilities they may come across in islanders, so that they can recognise, reassure and respond accordingly. As part of the scheme, islanders with hidden disabilities have the option to wear a sunflower lanyard or pin badge, which says, ‘I may need support’. Hidden disabilities can include dementia, people with hearing loss, the visually impaired and those with learning difficulties amongst others.

The Co-op is continuing to run training sessions for its colleagues to support and improve the shopping experience for islanders with hidden disabilities. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower 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.

Kerry Marques is a mum of four and uses the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, which she has found to be a great help when taking her three-year-old son Luis, who is on the autistic spectrum, out shopping.

‘The scheme has helped massively. It’s comforting to know we are able to come shopping with peace of mind. The Co-op staff are absolutely amazing and are more than happy to help. The reassurance is there that we don't have to be fearful about coming into the store. We use the sunflower lanyard on a rucksack and we pop it at the end of the trolley to make it visible. The lanyards have a soft, silky texture to them, which is very sensory and good for Luis as he will sit and play with it.’

Kerry added: ‘As a family, we are grateful that the Co-op’s Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme has raised awareness and encouraged people to show empathy towards islanders with hidden disabilities. The service makes life so much easier now for us to come shopping.’

The Society, along with the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce and Access for All, is also proud to support the ‘We all matter, Eh?’ Purple Tuesday initiative which takes place on Tuesday 13th November. This will mark the first event in the series under the ‘Accessible Town’ project, which focuses on improving accessibility in its widest context in Guernsey,

Karen Blanchford, Partnership Director at ‘We All Matter, Eh?’ GDA and Vice Chair at Access for All said: ‘We are thrilled that the Co-op is actively engaging to raise awareness and encourage more understanding of hidden disabilities in islanders across its stores. The timing of this commitment is great as we celebrate the launch of our Purple Tuesday event in Guernsey, which is the UK’s first accessible shopping day, established to recognise the importance and needs of disabled consumers and promote inclusive shopping. By increasing accessibility and the disability confidence of businesses, we will encourage more of our 13,000 disabled islanders and more than 4,000 carers to shop, eat out and take an active part in our community.’ 

The Channel Islands Co-operative Society’s Community Officer, Tanya Dorrity, said: ‘We are delighted with the feedback we have received from service users of our Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme. As a community retailer, hearing such positive feedback from our customers, like Kerry, proves why this scheme is so important and is just one of the reasons why we wanted to make it a permanent service. Our announcement is timely with the Purple Tuesday event and we encourage businesses and customers alike to take part where they can.’