Tesco Makes Massive Change To Help Recognise Invisible Illnesses

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Tesco are leading the charge in recognising the invisible illnesses their customers battle against every day.

The multi-million pound supermarket chain are rolling out a change to their disabled toilet signs nationwide, which will increase inclusivity for those people who suffer with illnesses that you can’t necessarily see when you pass them in the aisles.

The change will see symbols for a man and a woman added to the door of disabled toilets in 700 Tesco stores in an attempt to tackle the stigma of people without a visible disability using the facilities.

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Tesco have been inspired to make the welcome change by a campaign run by Crohn’s & Colitis UK, which saw the foundation send 19,000 emails to big supermarkets asking for this move towards better inclusivity. Catia Fernandes, a Tesco Compliance Manager who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease shared her experience of the illness.

She explained how the change would drastically improve her experience in the store:

My experiences living with Crohn’s means I am delighted that Tesco is changing the signs on its disabled toilets. I’m registered as disabled but most people wouldn’t know from looking at me, they expect a disability to be something more visible.

Tesco changing the disabled toilet signs in over 700 stores is a fantastic way to raise awareness. It will help people understand that you can’t always see someone’s disability, whatever it may be. For many people like me this is a little help that will make a big difference.

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Dan McLean of Crohn’s & Colitis UK said:

This announcement is a great step by Tesco towards reducing stigma and raising awareness that not every disability is visible and everyone is grateful to them for making this change.

People living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be very disadvantaged by the impact of their condition. They may not look unwell but are often profoundly affected by debilitating and unseen symptoms that affect all aspects of their lives.

The experience or fear of unpredictable incontinence is very undermining to a person’s confidence and self-esteem and can lead in some cases to the person affected becoming too anxious to leave their home.

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Tesco’s initiative is a great step to increasing public awareness of illnesses like Crohn’s. Between their take down of Twitter trolls and their plan to cut food waste, Tesco is fast becoming the superhero of supermarkets.

Hopefully other big supermarkets will follow suit and we can start to eschew the unfair and damaging taboo of people without a visible disability using the facilities.


Francesca Donovan

Francesca Donovan

A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you've never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.