I wrote to Sainsbury’s four months ago, telling them that my son was harmed in their store and asking them to make a necessary change. I had expected them to respond appropriately.
But offering what can only be described as “free stuff” was not the response I wanted!
I recently sent them an e-mail informing them that, after four months without any action, they were not fulfilling their own vision statement, “Our vision is to be the most trusted retailer, where people love to work and shop. We’ll do this by putting our customers at the heart of everything we do and investing in our stores, our colleagues and our channels to offer the best possible shopping experience.”
I reminded them that the Equality Act is an anticipatory one and that they had a duty to be looking ahead and solving things before a disabled person is treated less favourably. A person who needs changing places toilets could not work in this store, so they could also be indirectly discriminating against people who might wish to apply for a job.
I also explained exactly why visiting this store matters so much to my son. I cannot share this part of the reason publicly as it would involve sharing personal health information about a loved one. But Adam does not have forever with someone important to him and shopping at the Penzance store is something that they used to love doing together. They want to be able to enjoy again.
I have copied and pasted their response below, but where Sainsbury’s identified this person, I have amended it to “loved one”.
Dear Mrs George
Thank you for your email of 21 March, and previous correspondence and dialogue with Mr Whittle, our Penzance Store Manager, asking us to install a Changing Places toilet in our store.
We want to be the most trusted retailer where people love to work and shop. We also recognise that a key aspect of enabling people to have an enjoyable shopping experience is by providing toilet facilities for all our customers. This is why we recently invested in making our toilets more accessible for customers with non-visible disabilities, such as those with dementia or who have stomas. As part of this process, we have also been reviewing the potential provision of Changing Places facilities.
As you know, last year we launched a pilot installation of a Changing Places facility in Redhill. As is often the case with pilots, we have learned a lot from the process, and are continuing to make adjustments to the original installation. Once we are confident this installation is supporting our customers in the best possible way we will be in a position to review the pilot as a whole, and explore how we might be able to learn from this project and the possibility of offering these facilities elsewhere.
We understand and share your passion for ensuring these types of facilities are available to more customers and we are sorry that we are not able to share more concrete plans for further stores at this stage. As I’m sure you can understand, our focus is on ensuring we get this installation right so we’re in a position to review how we could install Changing Place facilities in other stores in the future.
While we are going through the process of evaluating the pilot, and reviewing the possibility of investment, we understand that this is a difficult time for you, Adam and his “loved one”. We would love for Adam to come into store with his “loved one” and to choose some treats that they can enjoy together this Easter. Please just let me know when you are planning to visit the store and if you visit our customer service desk I’ll make sure that they are expecting you.
Thanks for taking the time to get in touch and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd
Do you think that is in any way, shape or form an appropriate suggestion?
It is INSULTING!!!
These Changing Places toilets are not new. There is already a wealth of knowledge and experience around them.
At the end of the day, a Changing Places toilet is a toilet! Do we really need a “pilot” to check that they work and are needed?
There is a big difficulty that you need to “get right” right now Sainsbury’s. You didn’t wait to install regular toilets till after evaluating a pilot in just one store!
Why can you not understand that this is about real people who are being treated badly right now? The official campaign has run for over 11 years and the facilities have been known about a lot longer. Quite frankly, you have already failed this child and countless other disabled people. My son is not the only one to have had this experience in your store, but most people will not talk about because it is embarrassing and it hurts them to speak about it. This child is brave enough to allow his experience to be shared.
And what do you do?
Fob him off and insult him.
You have just invited a child who had a bad experience four months ago to return to your store and face the same bad experience, yet you will give him free stuff!
Are the bosses capable of feeling shame?