East of England Co-op mark national day with renewed focus on making it easier for people to use their stores

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The East of England Co-op are using Purple Tuesday, the UK’s first accessible shopping day, to raise awareness of how it is making its stores easier to access for its members and customers.

Since launching its pioneering dementia friendly training, developed in partnership with the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, 90% of East of England Co-op colleagues have become Dementia Friends. The specially designed training included offering colleagues the opportunity to try out ageing suits to replicate several age-related conditions such as distorting the senses through reduced eyesight and hearing, as well as making movement more difficult with weights fitted to joints. The Dementia Friendly training is now part of the induction process for all new starters.

Roger Grosvenor, Joint Chief Executive at the East of England Co-op, said: “Through our Dementia Friendly training, we have gained a much better understanding of what we, as a local retailer, can do to make a difference to people’s lives and the role we can play in helping people to feel part of our community.”

The retailer was one of the first to introduce iviewers throughout their stores. The magnifiers located under the product shelves pull out on a flexible arm to enable people with reduced eyesight to read small print on labels.
A further £150,000 has been spent over the past year to fit power assisted doors and pull cords and grab rails in some of their toilet facilities. More signage has also been put up to promote hearing loops. 

Roger Grosvenor, Joint Chief Executive for the East of England Co-op, said: “We are always looking at ways we can meet the needs of our customers and members and improve the service we provide. By continuing to make small changes wherever possible, we hope we can make a big difference to our customers lives.”

A new assisted shopping scheme funded by the East of England Co-op to help residents of Oak House in Stutton who wanted the opportunity to ‘pop to the Co-op’ in Manningtree has just been launched. 

The scheme, run in partnership with the Stutton Support Network, Suffolk County Council and Stowmarket Minibus and Coach hire offers up to twelve residents free transport and support to do a regular fortnightly shop at the Manningtree Supermarket. 

The East of England Co-op has funded the minibus for a six-month pilot until March 2019.