ASDA has recently launched an “Inclusive Hour” at its stores in support for autism and dementia awareness day — Purple Tuesday (13th November).
This initiative came after Simon Lea, ASDA store manager in Marple, Manchester, dealt with reoccurring incidents involving autistic children and those with hidden disabilities.
Mr. Lea, a colleague who suffers from anxiety, decided to speak to fellow workers to “make small changes to give customers a comfortable shopping experience to make it a better place to shop for everyone.”
Since then, over 200 colleagues in Manchester “have gained a better understanding about dementia and autism,” by undertaking awareness sessions with the Dementia Friends Awareness Scheme. Upon completion, each ASDA colleague will receive a blue flower badge which they will wear whilst on shift, making it visible to all customers if they need attention.
Initially named the ‘Quiet Hour’, ASDA was the first retailer to work with charities and local businesses back in 2016 to further understand any changes that could be made to make it more comfortable for customers to shop.
Small steps, such as turning off the ASDA FM radio, turning down the volume of the ‘beeps’ on all checkouts, turning off any door heaters/blowers, and having the lighting levels dropped, have made it helpful to customers who are sometimes “troubled by loud noises or become easily distracted and confused.”
Jodie Tate, Chair of ASDA’s Inclusion Board, said: “I’m really proud of the efforts and progress we’ve made to support inclusive shopping, not just on Purple Tuesday, but every day.
“We already provide equipment and services to make working and shopping with us as easy and accessible as possible — whether that’s our adapted wheelchair trollies, hearing loops, or our accessible toilets.
“It’s great that we are extending our support further by trialing an ‘Inclusive Hour’ to make the shopping experience better for customers with hidden conditions such as autism and dementia.”
Selected ASDA stores in Salford, Stockport, and Rochdale will participate in the scheme today with the aim of continuing the project in the future.