Lidl Northern Ireland, together with the NOW Group, has announced it will be the first retailer to become Just A Minute (JAM) Card friendly across its network of stores in the island of Ireland over the coming weeks.
Lidl – which has several stores across County Armagh, has also committed to sponsoring 6,000 JAM Cards which contributes towards keeping the cards free and accessible to those who need them.
Today (Friday) marks World Autism Day and is the latest move by the retailer in demonstrating its commitment to vulnerable customers and supports further in-store initiatives dedicated to meeting their needs.
Earlier this year, Lidl completed a needs assessment by reaching out to autism charities in Ireland and discovered that more than 85% of respondents felt a form of voluntary identification would be beneficial at times when more vulnerable customers need ‘Just A Minute’ to relieve stress levels while shopping.
In response to this, Lidl has been working closely with the NOW Group which supports people with learning difficulties and autism.
The organisation developed the JAM Card with its service users designed to allow users additional time and patience when in people facing environments such as supermarkets. Over the coming weeks, Lidl Northern Ireland is rolling out detailed JAM Card training and tools to employees in their 41 stores nationwide with hopes that the new initiative will help to support customers with learning difficulties, autism, or communication barriers.
JAM Card was originally developed for those with learning disabilities and difficulties.
However, it can be used by anyone with a communication barrier including people with Asperger’s or autism. It can also be used by those who have a brain injury and people who may feel self-conscious about their ability to effectively communicate when engaging with others.
Angela Connan, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Lidl Northern Ireland commented on the news: “We’re delighted to be the first retailer in Northern Ireland to become JAM Card friendly across all 41 stores. This initiative is another positive step in our journey to becoming a more accessible retailer for everyone and a great example of how we actively listen to our customers’ feedback and make tangible actions.
“By becoming JAM Card friendly, we’re furthering our commitment to providing excellent customer care and, alongside our existing in-store initiatives such as dedicated weekly autism evenings, we’re helping support vulnerable customers even further. We hope that all of our customers will feel even more comfortable while shopping in stores, with the assurance that our employees will understand and give those who need some extra time, ‘Just a Minute’.”
Maeve Monaghan, Chief Executive of NOW Group who is behind the JAM Card scheme, said: “We are so pleased that Lidl has partnered with NOW Group to become JAM Card friendly and recognise the value of investing in training their staff to provide great customer service for people with both visible and hidden disabilities.
“It may be ‘Just A Minute’ but that extra time and understanding can really support and comfort those with communications barriers, helping to give them equal access to the services they need every day, like shopping.
“Our participants developed the JAM Card so to see the scale of staff training and promotion to Lidl shoppers across Northern Ireland is a great boost to them. It is proof that they came up with a truly innovative idea and that JAM Card training is a great way to improve customer service for all businesses.”
NOW Group Ambassador, Ciarán Delaney, has tirelessly promoted the JAM Card across the island of Ireland and is a leading advocate for the rights of disabled people.
“The JAM Card supports and encourages independence for those with a range of disabilities. I am thrilled that Lidl Northern Ireland has become JAM Card friendly; it means their customers can shop with confidence knowing that staff will discreetly acknowledge that some shoppers might just need a bit more time”, he said.
The JAM Card is available free of charge to anyone who needs it. For more information, please visit www.jamcard.org.