Urgent letter sent to all the Main Supermarkets!
As the challenges of food shopping have increased amid the uncertainty around Covid-19, several UK supermarket chains have prioritised opening at certain times of the day for vulnerable and elderly people.
RNIB, jointly with other sight loss sector charities Guide Dogs, Thomas Pocklington Trust and Visionary, has written to supermarket chief executives to ask them how they are helping blind and partially sighted people. While we wait for their responses we have put together information we’ve found online about what they are doing to help disabled customers.
Dear Sir/Madam, May I firstly take the opportunity to thank you sincerely for taking time out to read this letter at what I know is a period of unprecedented demand and strain on your sector, company and staff. Like you, we are also coming to terms with what the coronavirus crisis means. In the forefront of our minds is how it will impact on blind and partially sighted people and how our charities can best act to continue to support their needs.
As you may be aware, our organisations work alongside and support blind and partially sighted people across the UK. Our key consideration at this time is how to ensure that they are able to continue to live independently and follow government advice such as “self-isolating”, something which poses a particular problem to our community.
A key element of everyday living is the ability to shop for groceries, medicines and other essentials for daily life. Blind and partially sighted people have historically taken advantage of online shopping and delivery services.
We have worked with many providers to ensure that apps and websites are accessible to allow people to independently fill their basket, check out and have it delivered to their door. We want to acknowledge the excellent measures that some in the sector have put in place such as early shopping hours for vulnerable and disabled customers and please be reassured that such measures are hugely beneficial and welcome.
In relation to online shopping and home delivery however, we are receiving large numbers of distressed calls from blind and partially sighted people who are unable to obtain their usual delivery slot and in most cases are unable to get a suitable slot for over three weeks.
We are sure you can understand the anxiety this can cause for people who are often already struggling with their wellbeing, not to mention the worry of going without vital foods, medicines and other essentials.
We do understand that there are numerous calls on your sector at present to support society in a whole variety of ways, but I would respectfully ask you to consider putting in place a telephone or online scheme whereby blind and partially sighted people are able to pre-book online shopping and home delivery slots in order to guarantee their food supply and therefore provide them with the ability to live independently and minimise anxiety.
We plan to communicate with our members and service users to let them know what assistance supermarkets are putting in place next week. With this in mind, we would ask that you respond to this letter by Wednesday 25th March. We appreciate this is a short time frame, but one that we hope you will be able to accommodate given the severity of the circumstances.
We would be more than happy to work with you to formulate an appropriate scheme should our input prove helpful.
Signed by Thomas Pocklington Trust, Visionary, RNIB and Guide Dogs CEOs
Below you can find key information and links to the announcements from some of the key supermarket chains:
Last updated March 25 2020
Asda has placed limits on the amount of certain products individual shoppers can buy.
All of its stores have a dedicated shopping hour for those at higher risk and the people who care for them. You will need to contact your local store as these dedicated hours may vary
Morrisons is expanding its home delivery service and introducing new ways of delivering groceries and more slots for customers, which will also help vulnerable people and those affected by the virus. Morrisons is making more delivery slots available to customers both through Morrisons.com and the Morrisons Store on Amazon Prime Now.
Morrisons food boxes
Our new Food Boxes are designed to provide you with everyday essentials, without needing to leave your home. Our boxes contain £30 worth of groceries and we offer convenient delivery directly to your door for £5.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all of the chain’s supermarkets will dedicate the hour of 8 am – 9 am to serving elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers, as well as NHS and Social Care workers.
Tesco says it is prioritising the elderly and most vulnerable between 9 – 10 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, except for its Express outlets.
First hour of store opening to be dedicated to the elderly and vulnerable and it is exploring ways to offer its services remotely.
You can check for the latest information and find contact details for all the major UK supermarkets on their websites.
Marks and Spencer: https://www.marksandspencer.com/
Sainsburys has a vulnerable persons careline – 0800 052 5500. It is attempting to prioritise vulnerable customers for home delivery.
Call wait times may be substantial.
RNIB Helpline: Call on 0303 123 9999
We’re open 8 am-8 pm weekdays and 9 am -1 pm on Saturdays.
The RNIB Helpline team can give you advice and point you to the services that can help you face the future with confidence.