Did you know nearly one in five Brits has a disability while over 50% of households know someone with a registered impairment?
Having said that, there can’t be too much surprise that the disabled carry a colossal £249billion of collective spending power a year then, can there?
Yet for too long, high street stores and supermarkets will admit not enough has been done to make shopping with a disability just as easy as it is for those shopping without.
This week the nations inaugural ‘Purple Tuesday’ saw the likes of M&S, Sainsbury’s and Asda sign up to not only promote the initiative of an accessible shopping day on November 13, but also commit to one long-term adjustment each in making life that little bit easier for disabled shoppers.
Previously, only 10% of companies had a dedicated disability strategy.
“I think what disabled people most hate is that feeling of being ignored, that feeling of not being a customer,” said Mike Adams, the Chief Executive of founding organisation Purple, to Sky News earlier this year.
Since 2013, there are 973,000 more disabled people in work – a magnificent statistic. Plus with nationwide unemployment rates continuing to fall, long may the growth of the ‘Purple Pound’ continue.
‘Purple Tuesday’ was welcomed tremendously by shoppers across Manchester and endorsed fantastically by retailers.
Eight of Asda’s stores across the region trialled a new ‘inclusive hour’ – in which tannoy announcements and displays were turned off to accommodate those suffering with dementia, autism and other mental health issues.
The accessible shopping day actually marked the anniversary of the government’s Disability Confident Scheme, a programme introduced with great success to help employers find and retain disabled members of staff – colleagues that have alternative attributes to become team members employers ‘just can’t do without’.
Disability Confident employers have harnessed the scheme in all kinds of ways, be it through new specific focus groups, or consulting handicapped employees in the design of new buildings, to simply hiring more wheelchair-bound teachers to inspire the next generation.
The scheme was one of the leading inceptions from outgoing Work & Pensions Minister Esther McVey.
As the North West appreciates the turnaround in unemployment figures and inclusivity for the disabled, it’s commendable that the local government are looking even further forward this week, committing a substantial investment into the future of our region.
Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry MP, said: “Our Northern Powerhouse strategy puts creating more jobs and developing education at its core.
“Unemployment in the North West is down almost 50% since 2010, and the Government wants to do even more to boost the prosperity of local families as we leave the European Union, which is why we announced £20million to pilot innovative new ways to boost skills in the region as part of the Budget.
Today is #PurpleTuesday, the UK’s first accessible shopping day. Is your business aware of the value and needs of disabled customers? #DisabilityConfident can help them become #IAmConfident https://t.co/19MvVDg4cP pic.twitter.com/J3RQHwZyQ8
— DWP (@DWP) November 13, 2018
“Working together with our partners we are continuing to deliver for the people of the North West, and across the North.”
The specific details for how Berry, the Conservative MP for Rossendale, will spend the money have yet to be finalised.
However this fruitful guarantee of £20million to our Labour-led region provides excellent prosperity amongst the backdrop of distant uncertainty down at Westminster regarding the Brexit agreement.