It shouldn’t happen to an Elf.

Alfie the Elf taken to his bed and will not even look up. He is devastated. He is embarrassed and doesn’t want to go out any more.

Alfie went to Sainsbury’s Superstore in Penzance, choosing it because it is a great store with wide aisles – nice and spacious for moving about in his wheelchair.

Shopping followed by a mince pie and a drink in the cafe seemed a great idea but elves are not good at limiting their intake of mince pies and drinks (possibly stemming from helping Santa on Christmas Eve) and, before long, Alfie needed to “go”.

Elf toy, sat in a wheelchair, drinking a drink besides a sign saying "Sainsbury's is being watched by Elf Surveillance".

No worries, he said, there are toilets upstairs and down in this particular supermarket – they understand the need for plenty of facilities for all.

Except, they didn’t have facilities for all.

Alfie the Elf is disabled and needs toilets with a hoist. He left the house fully prepared with his toileting sling, unable to understand that the UK just doesn’t have the facilities he is used to. “Why would anyone deliberately ignore the needs of so many? Nobody wants to be on the naughty list” were his words.

Two pictures, a small toileting sling and an Elf in a wheelchair, holding a toileting sling.

Alfie dashed to the toilets and was shocked to be unable to find ones which he could use.

He was even more hurt to discover that the ‘baby changing room’ was more than twice the size of the disabled toilet that he couldn’t use.

Toy Elf in wheelchair, looking at baby changing room.
Alfie wonders just how big human babies are!
Elf in wheelchair next to a sign saying "Sainsburys is being watched by Elf Surveillance".
Are disabled people smaller than babies?

We raced home as fast as we could. But it was not fast enough.

Poor Alfie was mortified. Wet trousers and a wet wheelchair in public is simply too much for an Elf to bear. Appearance matters to an Elf – you never know when someone will want a photo taken with you, and the work of an Elf is vital – representing Santa is such an important job. People judge Elves on their appearance and nobody wants to sit near an elf who smells of wee, or worse!

Alfie’s wheelchair was wet too, which meant he could not go out for tea with friends as planned. He was stuck at home till his wheelchair cushion and straps were clean and dry.

And now he feels hopeless.

Elf in bed, face down, head in hands. Very sad.
A very sad Elf, head in his hands.

If this happened to you, wouldn’t you be devastated too?

Can you imagine the horror of people looking at you, staring, pointing, sniffing the air?

How would you face the next day? Would you be able to go back to the store where it happened or would you be certain that everyone would remember you as the one who wet yourself? And what if it had been more than a wee?

Alfie’s story is not an isolated one. Sadly, it happens to disabled people every day.

All it takes is the simple addition of two pieces of equipment to transform the lives of Elves like Alfie. A ceiling hoist and an adult changing table are easy to install, and can be done with no disruption to the store.

We will be contacting the manager of Sainsbury’s Superstore in Penzance to ask them to make sure that no other Elf or person has to endure this indignity. All they need is a Changing Places style toilet to make sure everyone is treated properly.

Maybe you would like to share this information with them too? One Elf can’t always get his voice heard, but many voices together will be hard to ignore.

Please also help by signing this petition to ask supermarkets to include everyone.


Sainsbury’s Penzance, you are (sadly) on the naughty list. Please remember that there is room for everyone on the nice list.

54 thoughts on “It shouldn’t happen to an Elf.

    1. If we can encourage Alfie to get out of his bed and try going out again we will take him somewhere with a changing places toilet so that you can see it in action.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly, it is all too real. Just a couple of weeks ago my son had to miss out on swimming because he had not been able to make it home in time and his wheelchair cushion and straps had to be washed.

      It affects a person for longer than the moment of the immediate difficulty.


  1. Thanks💖 the supermarkets or people don’t care it leaves us wet or soiled till we get home. I use crutches or a frame so I am upright so my wet trousers could be seen. I remember the bullying my daughter had at school when the same happened to her after she had seizures. Hope something can be done so more changing places are in place 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww this is a sad story but one that is important to share and addresses needs that need to be highlighted. I like the idea of the Elf and using him in the pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. we had the same problem with my grandmother! so many disabled toilets dont have hoists and are not always very big! my poor grandmother used to hate the fact it would take two of us difficulty to hoist her ourselves instead of easily being able to use a hoist. We had many accidents like that and in her later years it stopped her from wanting to even leave the house out of embarrassment of knowing what could happen.


    1. My great grandfather barely left his nursing home after losing his leg. I wonder how many elderly people are spending their last years trapped at home due to toilet needs when they could be living fully?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I really appreciate that as the more people who see it, the more people will care. And then we can hopefully see a change.


  4. What a great way to raise awareness of such an important issue. I have to say I rarely see changing places facilities about and big stores such as Sainsburys really should be able to offer this given the amount of space in their stores. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As always this is beautifully written and puts yours and Adams point across perfectly. I’m so sorry from the comments to see this happened to Adam and he had to miss going out with his friends. I’ve signed the petition, please let me know if I can do anything else to help Rachel x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Alfie is currently on his way to London on official Santa business so he deserves a great Christmas after all hishard work.


    1. It really was a dreadful experience. I am hoping that Sainsbury’s will realise that I am not the only Elf who has had this experience.


    1. Thank you. It is appreciated more than I have words to describe. As a mum to a son who needs these facilities, it hurts my heart to see him struggle when we go out.


  6. This is a very clever way of highlighting an awful problem. My local city and to get rid of the last 3 public toilets soon. People will be expected to go to shops instead. Well that’s great if you can get up the stairs but how about specialist toilets for the disabled? It’s crazy! Great post. #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of my local towns has a similar scheme. Seven shops have signed up to the scheme to allow shoppers to use their toilets, but that still ignores many disabled people.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. As always, your post is such a good way of raising awareness. I know that “accessible” toilets arent’accessible 90% of the time. Besides the issue of changing spaces, there’s the issue that locks are often hard to work for people with disabilities, leaving disabled adults who don’t have someone to accompany them possibly exposed. It’s a shame that even big stores don’t pay attention to disability access.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have been is some where the doors are so heavy to open that I struggle to get in them with my son. When an ambulant person struggles to open the door it must be so much harder for an independent wheelchair user to open them.


  8. Such a clever way of getting an important message out there. Poor Elf, I hope all is well now. Here’s hoping that Father Christmas is reading this and can sprinkle a bit of magic to make something positive happen. Everyone should have access to proper facilities. #Blogcrush xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope so. Father Christmas has high expectations and has told Alfie that he has to stay in Cornwall till Sainsbury’s in Penzance has committed to being on the nice list. It is a big job for a little Elf.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh please, I hope you are planning to visit more places and do this. This was great on so many levels. And poor Alfie. Good luck with your campaign as always. #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

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