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Safeguarding and Supermarkets

Recently whilst shopping in a store owned by a large supermarket chain, an elderly lady who was clearly very confused picked up a newspaper and went to the nearby customer services desk and paid for it, she then replaced the newspaper on the shelf and shortly afterwards paid for another newspaper. She repeated this three times with the newspaper and then bought chocolates but had left her bag and money some distance away on the floor. Anyone could have picked up her bag. Meanwhile the staff member on the customer service desk whilst doing their best was completely at a loss as to what to do.

Supermarkets should have a working member of staff on a shift who could be called in such a situation, someone trained to reassure and help people struggling, who could also make an immediate safeguarding alert should the circumstances warrant this.

This small step could alert safeguarding authorities to people at risk of harm, including children who maybe suffering abuse.

People at risk of harm are often in plain sight and when someone who is clearly vulnerable is ignored because well meaning staff are completely at a loss as what to do, it is a lost opportunity to help someone.

We are sending this to the heads of all the supermarkets and asking them to have a staff member on shift who can assist someone like this lady, help them to do their shopping, reassure them or know how to make a safeguarding alert if required.

The stores could simply adopt the existing Butterfly scheme used in hospitals, it would cost next to nothing to implement training for staff, there is plenty of free material available.

We are all the eyes and ears vulnerable people need to stay safe and get the small amount of assistance they need to continue to live their lives independently for as long as possible.

Eileen Chubb