This is a copy of the “reasons” that Sainsbury’s gives as they refuse to improve their toilet facilities in their Penzance store, despite knowing that my son, and hundreds of thousands of people across the UK, cannot access them.
This child had a bad experience in their Penzance store, which continued to affect him long after leaving the store. He was physically unable to go out later that day due his wheelchair needing to be cleaned and he has felt emotionally unable to go back since, because the same thing is likely to happen. Their initial response was to invite him in to collect some free stuff – clearly they have no idea of the reality of life for him and no value for his right to dignity!
We have continued to ask Sainsbury’s to improve and this is their current excuse list, with my amendments in blue.
Dear Ms George, (Mrs)
Thank you for your patience while we gathered information from a number of Sainsbury’s colleagues before coming back to you with a full response.
Firstly and most importantly, I’d like to apologise unreservedly for any upset our previous responses may have caused. I understand you feel they were insensitive and lacking in compassion. That was most certainly not our intension. (Inviting a person in to soil themselves because you haven’t changed anything is rather insensitive)
I appreciate the response below is not the response you’ll have been hoping for in relation to Adam’s case. I’d like to take this opportunity to put it into context, clarifying our commitments to supporting our customers’ needs as much as possible.
As my colleague mentioned, Sainsbury’s has been consistently working with a disability consultant, looking at how we can improve our facilities for disabled customers. This has included reviewing the feasibility of installing Changing Place (CP) facilities. It is, in part, because of this work that we’ve improved our toilet facilities for people with non-visible disabilities and have piloted the installation of a CP facility in our Redhill store. (You made it nicer for people who could already use the facilities)
The CP pilot at our Redhill stores is happening for a number of reasons. For instance, we need to assess:
If the installation of a CP facility can sit within a store’s current design, as well as its facility management systems (of course it can – what nonsense!)
What the positive and negative impact on customers could be. In particular we must understand:
If the room is capable of withstanding the reinforcement to ceilings, floor and/or walls required for the installation of CP facilities (Many types of ceiling hoist are available, including ones which use the strength of the floor – are you suggesting that your floors and ceilings are substandard?)
Likely usage of CP facilities (Really??? You have a child pleading for one here!)
Impact on families with babies/young children and those with disabilities who do not require CP facilities as we re-engineer the space (You have facilities on two floors that all other people can use. If one of the large baby changing rooms was converted, some people would have to use the lift to get to a different floor in order to change their baby. I have a feeling that the majority of parents would gladly do this in order that disabled people can access one toilet in the building. Plus, this work should only take a couple of days.)
The likelihood of anti-social behaviour and how we might mitigate this. (How do you deal with this issue for all other aspects of your supermarket?)
How robust the equipment would be in a store setting, and how we would incorporate or upgrade the maintenance regime and up-skill colleagues in the maintenance of CP facilities. (The equipment is robust enough for theme parks, service stations, schools and a host of other places and a service contract ensures that they are maintained properly)
Additional challenges often present themselves during this type of trial and it’s important for us to learn from these. For example, we identified snagging issues with the CP facilities in Redhill. (Many professional companies install this equipment and the Changing Places Consortium has existed for almost 12 years – maybe you could use their expertise?)
I notice you’ve drawn comparisons between the installations of Argos stores and CP facilities at Sainsbury’s. This is another good example of our approach and focus on achieving the best facilities in the best possible way. Sainsbury’s has been installing counters and concessions in stores for decades and always carried out pilots and post implementation reviews before introducing a phased roll-out across hundreds of stores.
While the installation of an Argos store is unlikely to pose significant safety issues, by comparison the hasty installation of mechanised lifting equipment required for CP facilities could carry a much higher risk if this is not closely managed. (Struggling to not giggle at this – “mechanise lifting equipment” makes it sound rather huge, so I thought a picture would explain better)
Our approach to CP, and which of our stores are installed with CP facilities, has to be informed by the evaluation of the Redhill pilot. Some of the factors likely to influence our approach, as well as next steps, are:
Space – is there a suitable 12m² space available (This is a recommendation – not essential)
Local demographics to help us understand disability incidence across the UK and how this compares to our store locations, as well as their suitability for the installation of CP facilities (Disability doesn’t just occur in neat pockets across the country and, right now, you have a request for this particular store so that you can make it right for a child who endured harm in your store)
Our building programme (Is this not something which should respond to needs)
The availability of other CP facilities in the vicinity (In Penzance there are none within many miles in the evening and at weekends, besides, the attitude to regular toilets does not depend on other facilities in the area)
While we have taken Adam’s case as a factor in this strategy, I understand that, unfortunately, the space identified in the Penzance store doesn’t currently meet the 12m2 recommended space for a CP facility. For this reason and those highlighted above, we’re unable to commit to installing a CP facility in Penzance at this time. (You have used the word “recommended” because it is a recommendation, not essential. The room is only a bit smaller than the recommended size so please don’t use it as an excuse to continue to treat a child as less than human.)
I apologise once again for any disappointment this may cause, but hope this detail puts our commitments into context. (Are you apologising for any soiling that will occur as well?)
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd