Ahead of World Autism Day on 2nd April, Lidl Ireland, together with the NOW Group, has announced it will be the first Irish retailer to become Just A Minute (JAM) Card friendly across their network of stores in Ireland over the coming weeks. Lidl has also committed to sponsoring 6,000 JAM Cards which contributes towards keeping the cards free and accessible to those who need them.
Earlier this year, the retailer 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 Lidl stores. 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 is rolling out detailed JAM Card training and tools to employees in their 168 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.
Robert Ryan, Director of Operations, Lidl Ireland commented on the news: “We’re delighted to be the first Irish retailer to become JAM Card friendly. This initiative is another positive step in the right direction in our journey to becoming a more accessible retailer for all of our customers, as well as a great example of how we actively listen to our customers’ feedback and make tangible actions.
“By becoming JAM Card friendly, we’re not only furthering our commitment to providing excellent customer care but also demonstrating accessibility to all customers, including those with learning disabilities and hidden disabilities. We hope that all of our customers will feel even more comfortable while shopping in stores, firm in the knowledge 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 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, Ciaran Delaney, has tirelessly promoted the JAM Card across Ireland and is a leading advocate for the rights of disabled people. He says “The JAM Card supports and encourages independence for those with a range of disabilities. I am thrilled that Lidl 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.”