News & Updates
November 3, 2020
Disabled customers “helpless and not valued” during Covid-19
Businesses urged to target consumer spending power of disabled people in next national lockdown
New research reveals how the first national lockdown to halt the spread of COVID-19 has turned back the clock for disabled customers, who have been forced to rely on inaccessible websites and apps to purchase basic essentials and access goods and services.
As organisations brace themselves for a second nationwide lockdown, Purple is urging businesses to tap into new revenue opportunities by making simple changes to the customer journey on Purple Tuesday (3 November) to improve disabled people’s access to their goods and services.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions have created new challenges for UK businesses and society but findings from Purple suggest some solutions to trading in lockdown have come at the expense of disabled people. As more organisations and customers have turned to online booking services during the pandemic, disabled customers often face barriers in using these services.
The latest research shows that the vast majority of websites do not comply with the latest accessibility requirements and one recent study showed that more than 98% of home pages had accessibility failures.* Specific challenges highlighted by disabled people for Purple Tuesday include:
- Inaccessible online forms – which can be difficult to navigate, particularly for people living with sight loss where it’s not clear whether a field is drop-down menu or an open field that requires a typed response
- Mobile accessibility – where consumers cannot complete purchases because the website or online form are not mobile-friendly
- Product information – where insufficient information is provided as to whether a product or service can meet your needs as a disabled person
- Product availability – some disabled people have told us they can’t access products that meet their needs online, including some rail websites which don’t have facilities to book priority seating online
- Missed deliveries – which often force disabled people to collect parcels from postal depots that are inaccessible if you don’t drive
Purple has also reviewed a number of FTSE 100 company websites, which has highlighted missing accessible features which include a site map for the website, menus and dropdowns that are not accessible to keyboard users, and the ability to accept cookie policies.
The poll of disabled people also highlighted barriers facing disabled people offline, including the removal of disabled parking bays in order to make space for socially distanced queues.**
As a second nationwide lockdown looms, Purple is calling on organisations to rethink their current strategies towards disabled customers for Purple Tuesday to help them take advantage of the £274 billion Purple Pound – the consumer spending power of disabled people and their families. The recent Click-Away Pound report shows that inaccessible websites are costing UK businesses up to £17.1 billion from disabled online shoppers last year, so improved accessibility should form a central part of business recovery plans.***
Mike Adams OBE, Founder and Creator of Purple Tuesday, said:
“National and regional lockdowns have shone a very bright light on the approach of organisations to their disabled customers. At one end of the spectrum there is a sense of bunkering down, neglect and grouping all disabled customers as vulnerable, making them feel helpless and not valued. Other businesses have seen their proactive approach as a symbol of their brand, a socially aware organisation that is connecting or reconnecting with their customers.
“With 22% of the population being disabled, meeting their customer needs is a huge economic and social opportunity for businesses. Purple Tuesday this year is about making do and mend and getting organisations to adopt, adapt and implement practice that has previously worked for others across all sectors and of all sizes to support the economic recovery.”
More than 3,500 organisations have used Purple Tuesday to make practical commitments to improve the disabled customer experience. Activities include the adoption of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard Scheme, using ‘not every disability is visible’ signage, workforce training and encouraging staff to learn hello and goodbye in British Sign Language.
Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson said:
“In the month that we mark the 25-year anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act, Purple Tuesday is a timely reminder for businesses to put inclusivity at the heart of everything they do.
“We know this has been a challenging time for our high streets and businesses – the government has rightly stepped up to support those most in need. It’s more important than ever to unlock the spending power of disabled people and I would urge businesses to do just that and reap the rewards.”
Sainsbury’s and Landsec are among this year’s participants who have made new commitments to improve the customer experience for disabled people. Sainsbury’s recently launched their EnAble network, which supports colleagues with disabilities and health conditions, and an in-store and online disabled customer journey audit is underway.
Tim Fallowfield OBE and Board Sponsor for Disability, Carers and Age at Sainsbury’s, said:
“I am proud that we are the official partner of Purple Tuesday 2020. At Sainsbury’s, we have supported Purple Tuesday for the past two years and accessibility to services and products has never been more important for customers than it is now. I would encourage other businesses to get involved in this conversation and think about how they can become more accessible.”
Landsec, one of the UK’s largest commercial property development and investment company, has extended its staff disability training to service partners this year and is once again promoting Purple Tuesday on its landmark Piccadilly Lights.
“Creating inclusive and welcoming spaces for all is extremely important to Landsec. All our teams across our retail and commercial office properties have received training, which we are extending to our service partners this year to improve the customer experience for disabled people. We’re very pleased to be supporting Purple again this year and are delighted to have been able to showcase the launch of the campaign on Piccadilly Lights”.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme has proved to be even more important this year, providing important visual indicators so that people around them can recognise that they have a disability and need space to maintain social distancing.
Paul White, CEO of The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, said:
“We are absolutely delighted that a number of businesses are using Purple Tuesday to implement the Sunflower scheme as a tangible commitment to improve the experience for the disabled person. This is more important than ever during the pandemic where customers are more anxious about visiting a facility. By these businesses recognising the Sunflower and that the wearers disability is hidden, they are making the invisible, visible.”
Kathryn Knowles, Managing Director of Cura, said:
“In our company our entire mission is to help people with medical conditions to get insurance. Helping people is at the core of everything that we do. Purple Tuesday hits home for us that this isn’t yet the norm, for many organisations. It makes us realise how important it is to get the message out to other organisations that being accessible is the right thing to do and it doesn’t have to be big expensive changes to do it.”
April 2, 2020
March 3, 2020
I have always dreamed of being an author. I can write. But I lack an unleashed imagination to produce anything more than a solid but dry, document. Producing a regular blog has sparked some creative juices and I’ve enjoyed thinking of new and creative ways to share our Purple story.
To celebrate World Book Day on Thursday, I wanted to introduce my friend, Ian Parker. Ian is not an author but even more impressive – he is an illustrator. He recently completed two years hard work to produce all the illustrations for a book entitled Danny’s Dream.
Ian and I met when I was six months and he was just over a year old. We went to the same boarding school, as in those days that is where disabled children went. From a young age, I was always the talker, the front of stage kind of friend. Ian was the artist in every way and painted with a brush in his mouth.
Ian was always going to be an artist and through the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) that has been his career. Becoming an illustrator for a book is about bringing the story to life. Just ask David Walliams the importance of Tony Ross in his success or Julia Donaldson about the value of Axel Scheffler.
In the same way I suspect Victor Margiotta would say the same about Ian. Without a need for a spoiler alert, the story focuses around a superhero named Danny. It just so happens Danny is a wheelchair user and the tag superhero isn’t what is often associated with disabled people doing ordinary things. However, the book was inspired by the Paralympics. Danny reflects 83% of the disabled population who acquire their disability during their life.
For me the book is about having ambitions in life and not being blown off course when things inevitably don’t go as planned. First and foremost, disabled people are people. I haven’t got the exact reference to hand, but work undertaken by Tina Burchardt at the start of this millennium showed that disabled and non-disabled teens aged around 16 shared the same level of dreams and ambitions, but by the time disabled people reached 25 they were three times more likely to believe their ambitions would simply not happen. For me, it was one of those light bulb moments which is why I am so passionate about access to education and employment opportunities.
The acid test of a children’s book is the reaction of children who read it. My seven-year-old Daniel loved it. Apart form saying it is about ‘one of your friends(!)’ he really engaged with the interaction of people and their surrounding exotic animals – and of course which was brought to life by the illustrations.
Have a great World Book Day.
Mike Adams OBE
Chief Executive Officer
3 March 2020
February 18, 2020
When I first met Mike Adams OBE, it was at his offices in Chelmsford, initially as a customer of mine, and over time to becoming friends. As I got to know Mike and the work he and his team did for the disabled community, there has always been a resonance with me, and later in my life, with a disabled wife myself, a real affinity with what the team at ecdp (as it was known then) later to become, Purple, and what they did surrounding disability confidence. Not just in their county, but also nationally and with some significant organisations getting involved, mainly because of Mike and his ability to charm the CEO’s and board room tables into his way of thinking, and understanding the true value of the Purple Pound.
Mike and I worked closely together and made sure that learnings about the disabled community, and in particular disability confidence, was at the forefront in both my organisation, and my customer base. Mike would speak at our user groups, and help to get the important message across in an effective and invariably comical way.
Work continued and our paths didn’t cross as often, however I would always mention Mike to people, as someone who I was in admiration of when discussing disability especially in the workplace. However, I was always aware of how my disability confidence had grown.
Recently I took some time out from work due to medical issues, and I said to myself, as an advocate of mental health and wellbeing, that when I returned to work, it would be for the ‘right’ organisation (not necessarily knowing what that was at this point), it would feel right when I found it, or as was the case, it found me!
The Circle Line was a Start Up that a friend of mine had joined, The Circle Line help people to find the right therapist for them using a safe, discreet online service and they want to revolutionise an established method of mental health treatment, bringing it into the 21st century, and putting the individual first. A really valuable solution to a very big issue when you look at the statistics surrounding Mental Health. This was the company and opportunity I had been waiting for, and now part of a team of like-minded individuals, we are creating a movement around mental health and wellbeing.
A few months ago, my phone rang, and a familiar voice started to talk “Neil, how are you its Mike Adams, you’ve got twins if I recall, haven’t you?” Erm “yes” I said, thinking this was an odd way to start a conversation, however it soon became clear when I realised that apart from the call to catch up, it was also a chance to share notes on being the father of twin girls, as Mike had recently joined ‘the Club’. Conversation moved to health and work, and I explained where I was working now. Mike told me about Purple, and in particular about Purple Tuesday.
As a company whose primary objective is to help people to find the right therapists, to help their mental health issues/wellbeing, and modernise an established method of treatment, we are constantly looking at ways in which we can improve the user experience of our platform and service, therefore help those people who have the hidden disability of Mental Illness (which is fast becoming one of the biggest disability groups). Here was Purple Tuesday championing the cause and putting some clout behind our day to day mission. The synergy between what Purple Tuesday is about, and what The Circle Line do as an organisation was clear to me, and the team.
Our commitment is to make access to therapy and more importantly the right therapist simple and straight forward, by simplifying the process through a secure, safe and discreet online service provided by The Circle Line at an affordable cost for everyone. We do this by creating a secure platform which is simple to navigate and use our private online therapy rooms, but we also maintain a low fee for therapy (£49 per session).
The Purple Tuesday team have informed me that The Circle Line was the first new organisation to officially register for Purple Tuesday 2020. We are excited to join all other organisations on this disability journey. If you would like your organisation to get involved too or would like more information, visit PurpleTuesday.org.uk.
If you would like to understand more about what we do, or even have a requirement for a therapist to support you, then do get in touch.
Neil Lagden: The Circle Line Corporate Partnerships
February 13, 2020
Mike Wray, BID Manager for One Chelmsford highlights why becoming a Purple Partner has focused their work to ensure Chelmsford City Centre is an accessible destination for disabled people and their families.
Creating an accessible and inclusive destination is a key objective for One Chelmsford, a Business Improvement District (BID) in Essex. It makes commercial sense and is what our community would expect. For our retailers and leisure businesses it means more visitors and more spend; for our office and commercial sector, it widens the pipeline to attract the required workforce needed; and for our residents it means improvements to their day to day customer experience. We are committed to making sure Chelmsford City Centre remains the county’s premier destination to work, visit and live.
Our journey with Purple started in 2018 when Purple launched Purple Tuesday, with a call to action supporting organisations to realise the value of the Purple Pound- (a staggering £249 billion to the UK economy each year) and to improve the disabled customer experience by influencing change in business practices.
We were delighted to get behind this important initiative as it translated our disability inclusion intent into a range of practical changes as the ground for our members, visitors and residents. To show our support we illuminated Shire Hall purple where BBC Look East interviewed Mike Adams OBE, CEO of Purple and creator of Purple Tuesday for a live broadcast in the city centre.
Following the success of Purple Tuesday and the fact that it has now gone global, One Chelmsford became the first BID in the world to join Purple as a partner and are proud to work alongside them.
Most importantly as part of our partnership we access expertise, consultancy and training from Purple’s highly specialised team who tailor the support to meet our needs. This has proved invaluable for us as a BID to understand what is needed in the area and to accelerate our accessibility and inclusion practices.
As a BID we felt as a key starting point for our disability journey was to better understand the barriers disabled people face when navigating the city centre. We worked with Purple to undertake a comprehensive accessibility audit of the city to identify any key physical, cognitive and sensory barriers in Chelmsford. The findings and recommendations have been immensely useful for us; they highlighted areas of good practices which can be easily replicated in other areas of the city; and provided feasible, real-life practical solutions to those barriers identified. We have shared Purple’s access audit findings with our members, local authority and highways agency to open discussions and make plans to improve the area.
Building Disability Confident Members
A core objective of One Chelmsford is to equip our members to better understand the value disability can bring to their businesses and to help build the disability confidence of their employees. Meeting the needs of disabled people as customers and employees may not be so very different from that of any other, but we know there still is apprehension in getting it wrong and offending. We have worked with Purple to conduct research of our members which has enabled us to recognise the gaps in disability knowledge and capabilities and have developed a training programme with Purple and local disability charities to address those areas.
Disabled Customer Feedback
The next phase of our work with Purple is to gather feedback from disabled visitors to the city. We will be launching a disabled mystery shopping initiative alongside a series of focus groups with locally based disability groups. This information will be collated in a report with a set of key recommendations for improvements. This important information will help us to underpin our accessibility strategy moving forward.
Working in partnership with Purple over the past two years has been invaluable to us as a BID. It has been an excellent investment with demonstrable changes made on the ground – both physical and in changing mindsets. We want to lead the way for other BID’s to become equally accessible.
February 11, 2020
My total lack of preparedness for Valentine’s Day later this week is in stark contrast to the meticulous planning for Purple Tuesday 2020 which soft launches today (11 Feb 2020). Apart from taking place in a (very) busy week there are further parallels to be drawn.
Both are a celebration of something that is significant, not just on one day, but over 365 days a year. Note that the focus will be on the celebration, and not being the day when changes are made.
Following your feedback from the Purple Tuesday survey, we have brought the date forward by a week, so Purple Tuesday will be celebrated this year on 3 November, which will avoid any clashes with Remembrance Day.
Participants signing up to Purple Tuesday will have agreed and delivered their activities to change the customer experience before 3 November, and then use the day to acknowledge and promote their ongoing disability journey with both staff and customers. The 14 February is also a manifestation of the preceding year and not a knee-jerk guilt trip for what hasn’t happened!
Whatever your reasons, both Purple Tuesday and Valentine’s Day provide a real commercial opportunity if done right.
At the centre of success both events provide the customer with the right experience. A sense of feeling wanted; something that shows you really have been thoughtful, and that you are willing to spend your money for the experience. For the avoidance of doubt, the latter point for Valentine’s Day is about the consumer and its relationship with the card shop, restaurant, hotel etc.
However, there can be a danger of overhype and a sense of déjà vu. With our significant others, a lot of people try to do something different each year, whether that be a different restaurant, different get away or a different activity all together. For Purple Tuesday, we will be creating new resources, promoting new approaches that work from other participants, and establishing the Purple Tuesday 365 club (something new and exciting to be fully disclosed in the not so distant future!).
Lastly, Purple Tuesday and Valentine’s Day compete in a crowded market. The latter is squeezed between Christmas, Mother’s Day and then Easter, while Purple Tuesday continually has to fight not to be seen as another awareness day amongst dozens. It must stand as a programme for organisations to understand the opportunity of the Purple Pound and deliver their raison d’être of delivering a quality customer experience for disabled people.
My calls to action for you this week:
- Register your organisation’s interest for Purple Tuesday (purpletuesday.org.uk). It takes no longer than five minutes. If you are not sorted for Friday, google “Valentine’s Day inspirational ideas”. Again, this task should not take more than five minutes.
- Make your Purple Tuesday commitments. Agree those activities that will have an impact 365 days a year. I am not sure you need telling the Valentine commitment should also be an all year-round one!
- Start delivering today and don’t leave it all lastminute.com. The virtual ‘to do later’ in-tray is not an option. And don’t think you can get away with doing it on the cheap. You will be found out and damage your relationship with the very people you are trying to recognise as very important. This, of course, applies equally to Purple Tuesday and Valentine’s Day.
- Plan for milestones and celebrations throughout the year. People require constant reinforcement, and need to know you care, and their experience, is not simply about one day, but will grow even stronger as the relationship – the bond – deepens.
Back to my planning to ensure both are meticulously delivered this week.
Mike Adams OBE
Chief Executive Officer
11 February 2020
February 4, 2020
I know that when it comes to insurance and finances in general, having access to a disability friendly service is not the first thing that springs to mind. We are here to change that.
Cura is a small family run insurance broker owned by Alan and Kathryn Knowles (me!).
I have a number of medical conditions myself and have previously found it difficult to get protection insurance, something that really struck a chord with me as an insurance broker, this was something I did day in and day out but I was hitting barriers everywhere. That is why my husband and I made it our mission to develop an insurance company that is empathetic and supportive of the individual and not something focused on a ‘computer says no’ environment.
Our commitment to people in the disabled community is to listen and hear you, not just the list of conditions or medications that you take. We treat everyone as an individual and challenge insurers to provide fair terms of cover for life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection. Our view is to never take no for an answer. Most of our customers have been told that they are uninsurable and we have won multiple national awards proving that is not the case.
When people speak to us, our job is to fight their corner and even more importantly, be upfront and realistic. Honestly, there are times that a disability will not have much bearing on the terms of an insurance policy, other times it will have quite an impact. Our team of advisers go through extensive insurance and disability training, so that they can assess which routes of insurance are right for you. The team will be honest about what insurances are available, they are trained to manage expectations and to not promise the earth.
We are also a Disability Confident organisation. Many of our employees have a range of health conditions, both physical and mental. We adapt our work process to suit the individual employee, whether that is reduced working hours, being able to work from home, having time to go for a coffee and a cuddle if times are feeling a bit tough. This all adds to the family atmosphere that we have built at Cura.
Every month we champion a different charity that is close to our hearts. This could be due to something that is currently affecting one of our employees or a cause that has made an impact in our local community. We do this by donating money, but also by taking part in events like zumbathons, bubble runs, coffee mornings, curry and chat days. We also support staff who give blood by donating to a charity of their choice for every donation.
We have a vision where every person is listened to, respected and seen as a human, not a tick box. We have made it our mission to improve access to insurance and to reach a time where no-one is told that they are uninsurable.
We are working directly with insurers and reinsurers (the people who make the big decisions in the background) to change the way that the insurance industry views the modern person. Having a disability doesn’t necessarily stop someone from working, having a family or getting a mortgage. Disabled people have just as much need for protection insurance as anyone else. Participating in Purple Tuesday and being a member of Purple, has really helped us address these issues and would recommend any organisation looking to become more disability inclusive to get involved too.
If you would like to know more about us please have a look at our, who we are page. I regularly write for industry publications and if you do a quick search of my name and the word ‘insurance’ on google, you can see a lot of the good work that we are doing. I am also very active on twitter, @Kathryn_Cura, and please do pop and say hi to me and watch out for my rather random thoughts on all things in life (not just insurance jargon, I promise)
Managing Director of Cura Financial Services
4 January 2020
January 28, 2020
Progress of sorts. Last weekend I went into a mobile phone shop to enquire about changing my current ancient Blackberry. I was greeted with a wry smile bordering on a beaming smirk!
For those of you who haven’t followed the saga, I have a Blackberry as I need a keyboard with physical buttons rather than just a touchscreen. I use my phone with a Bic pen in my mouth to type all messages and to access all non-call information, which means touchscreens simply don’t work for me as they sadly don’t respond to Bic pens. Many people have suggested I get a stylus, but you don’t tend to see stylus pens everywhere like you do Bic pens, so I think it would prove to be impractical.
The problems with my Blackberry are extensive.
It doesn’t support many apps, so I find myself totally isolated from much of the digital world, which includes the number one messaging app, WhatsApp! Some might argue this is a blessing but I can’t help but feel left out when I am unable to be a part of various group conversations between family and friends.
My camera doesn’t work which is a real shame, as with 7-month-old twins, I am reliant on others to capture those special moments for me.
Even if I reluctantly live with the above limitations, one of the biggest bugbears is the ‘a’ and ‘p’ keys are becoming very temperamental. My blog title, ‘Hy Birthdy’ is the message sent to my partner, Kristine, on her birthday a couple of weeks ago.
Although it makes for amusing conversations, the time has certainly come for an upgrade.
So, back to the mobile shop.
I can upgrade my Blackberry with another Blackberry, which I was delighted to hear actually runs off Android. However, despite the change in operating system, frustratingly Blackberry does not support the software updates. Therefore, it is likely to be WhatsApp today, gone tomorrow!
The shop assistant also politely pointed out the latest model was 2018, which is an indicator of its success (and no new model on the horizon!).
However, there was a shred of good news. Samsung are about to release a new phone and there are whispers it will include a keyboard. I have never followed the trail of a new launch with so much interest.
Which brings me around to the launch of Purple’s plans for Purple Tuesday 2020, and a trailer for you.
Spoiler alert. If you don’t want to know then look away now!
Purple Tuesday is changing the customer experience. This is achieved through organisations making and delivering on commitments to adapt, introduce and embed activities on the ground which make a real difference to the customer experience for disabled people.
Purple Tuesday is the change programme, the emblem, that makes this happen. So:
- We will work alongside 2019 participants to deliver all 3,500 commitments by the end of June 2020
- We will double participation this year to 5,000 participants with 7,000 new activities to deliver. Across all industries, involving organisations of all sizes, and crossing international borders
- The Purple Tuesday 365 Club will acknowledge and differentiate to disabled customers those organisations who have delivered their commitments vs. those who have simply made them
- Purple will provide a range of packages to proactively support organisations to design and deliver their commitments as part of their wider disability inclusion activities. With funding always tight we can help you to invest in targeted areas for measurable results
You will be seeing a lot less blogs from me as participants tell their stories about the impact their actions have made to their customers and staff.
I am delighted Kathryn Knowles, MD of Cura, is our first guest blogger in early February. I have read her blog which will inspire the art of what is definitely possible.
I will let you know how the phone saga ends. Come on Samsung, please (or ‘lese’ as my Blackberry would say!) don’t let me down.
Mike Adams, OBE
28 January 2020
January 21, 2020
Last week I wrote my first Purple blog which, focused on me and my own personal experiences with Purple. For this blog, I reflect on last year’s activities and what we can learn from this. To some, this blog may seem a little cliché, but I hope will also have resonance with you and your organisation.
We are limited only by our imaginations
Yes, that old chestnut that has been drilled into us since we were little cherubs making beautiful crayon smushed creations.
Some of the ideas to come out of Purple Tuesday have been truly inspiring! We had an autism aware Purple Santa, reducing many of the stresses and anxieties that some children with additional needs face when meeting Father Christmas.
Another organisation set their staff challenges which creatively exposed people to the experiences of those with different disabilities. In teams they completed tasks from the perspective of people with different impairments and identified customer service related areas which could be improved.
One of my personal favourites is where a local area organised a wheelchair race around the town centre encouraging members of the public to participate and in doing so, pay a fee to a local disability charity to help them raise funds. This activity was a great success as it raised awareness (and probably a few eyebrows to unknowing onlookers), creating a bit of fun in the local area and most importantly, it was a fantastic opportunity to really highlight to the local council the issues around physical accessibility on the high street. Something that will no doubt be invaluable to wheelchair users and those who are less mobile when some of these actions are implemented.
For Purple Tuesday 2020, be even bolder! Your events and actions don’t have to be grand or expensive, but fun and captivating usually leaves a lasting imprint in people’s minds.
There has been a nervousness around disability for a long time and although we can start to see a positive shift in society, it takes an awful lot of courage to stand up and publicly say ‘our organisation is committed to improving the customer experience for disabled people’. The media these days can be fierce and statements such as that can be scrutinised, which is why I absolutely take my hat off to every single one of the 2,500 organisations who had the courage to do just that.
Organisations aside, disabled people with both visible and hidden impairments have been coming forward to highlight the challenges they face when interacting with various organisations. Some even went as far as creating videos and blogs to discuss the matter.
For me, the cherry on the cake was when I read about a group of disabled children going shop to shop with flyers and armed with information to help each organisation understand the importance of being part of the Purple Tuesday initiative.
I find it very humbling to see so many people from all different walks of life, with little to no ties with one another, come together and create a huge impact collectively.
Teamwork is everything
Believe it or not, the number of cogs that make Purple Tuesday churn is very few! But (brace yourself), we like to call ourselves the dream team! Our personalities are very different, but we balance each other well and work with each others strengths.
I like to nit-pick, Charlene likes to think big, Mike likes to keep everything on track and Dianne, well she likes to keep Mike on track! – individually it would be a nightmare, but together it just works!
My point here being that Purple Tuesday has been a huge success, bigger than we ever could have imaged but we reached new heights because we worked together, not just within our immediate team, but with our designers, web developers, PR company and most importantly, with you, the 2,500 organisations that participated.
The power of people is incredible and I cannot wait to see who else joins us this year and witness the huge impact we can make across the globe!
Purple Tuesday Officer
21 January 2019
January 14, 2020
“April Fools, we haven’t really hired you” were the words I dreaded as I walked through Purple’s doors for my first day of work on the 1st April 2019. Nine months later, I am still here with a huge amount of knowledge and new experiences in tow. When I told my new colleagues that my role was ‘Purple Tuesday Officer’, they jokingly teased “so, you only have to work one day a year”. 450 days a year is nearer the truth!
Since very early on, I have been a little steam train chugging away in the background of Purple Tuesday. I have taken on many tasks where I have learned as I go, such as updating and managing the website, creating new assets and editing various media content, using only YouTube and Google as my guidance. As a result I have learned a lot and despite being far from a web designer, graphic designer or content producer, I seem to be becoming the first port of call of these sorts of tasks within Purple, so I must be doing relatively well at it nonetheless.
As much as I love doing creative tasks, you can only imagine the level of administrational tasks! I created the go-to spreadsheet for Purple Tuesday, formalised the registration process, created templates and oversaw the rapidly growing Purple Tuesday inbox for the swarm of daily “that’s an excellent question” email and telephone requests. Although thanks to the tremendous increase in registrations, I did have to enlist some extra help from my colleagues to keep me afloat over the last two weeks in the lead up to Purple Tuesday.
“Many hands make light work” is how the saying goes. The help from my peers was a great support and I simply couldn’t have processed all that needed to be done on my own, but ‘make light work’ it certainly did not. We were excitedly overwhelmed by the number of registrations coming our way. It was a truly wonderful thing for Purple Tuesday, but an administrational challenge from behind the scenes! That being said, with a lot of will power and team work, we managed to process everything and in time for the big day – miracles really do happen!
With the tiny sheds of left over time I had spare, I did my best to put myself out there as much as possible. To help not only boost my own confidence, but to help guide others and help them better understand Purple Tuesday and what it would mean to take part.
I presented on various occasions, both with Mike and on my own, on one occasion, in front of 200 peering eyes! I also claimed my five minutes of fame when I featured on BBC News as a Purple representative discussing accessibility on the high street and even gave a couple of radio interviews!
It’s fair to say that I have experienced far more than I expected when I began my Purple journey, but it has been a fantastic ride and I cannot wait to jump back on that steam train although it will need to go a little faster than chug!
Purple Tuesday Officer
14 January 2020
January 6, 2020
The power of a pinky promise. More than an intent or aspiration. Quite frankly, it is something that cannot be broken once those smallest fingers link together.
I have made a number of pinky promises to my family this year. A new Christmas tree in the new year sales to replace one literally falling apart. A promise to trust my 12-year old daughter to walk home from school with her friends and not have to wait for a (late!) parent. A promise to allow my seven-year-old son to start a martial art, and a promise to my seven-month-old twins to watch them splashing in the bath at least once a week.
So, here are my Purple pinky promises to you.
Purple Tuesday will support organisations to deliver and embed all 3,500 commitments made to improve the customer experience for disabled people and their families. The team will be proactive with advice, guidance and resources to make this happen. We want all 3,500 commitments to be achieved by the end of June 2020 and we are creating an old fashioned, but digital, commitment-ometer to track progress for all to see. Our Purple Tuesday disabled ambassadors will tell us honestly if the experience on the ground looks and feels positively different. And where it is not, they will provide constructive feedback to find solutions that work.
For those who watch The Last Leg, you will know they use ‘#IsItOk’. By the end of 2020 all organisations working with Purple will be confident to say it is ok to see disability as a commercial opportunity. It is ok to employ disabled people because they are good for your business. But, it will not be ok to pay disabled staff less (if you are in any doubt see my previous post). And it is not ok to cut corners in providing customer services to disabled people.
The red lines have been well and truly drawn.
But there are wider Purple pinky promises. I have talked about creating an online platform bringing together the Purple Pound consumers and those organisations absolutely committed to disability inclusion. A note to myself: either make it happen or shut up.
Purple has also made a commitment to ramp up its training offer to disabled people, to access the skills required to work in a modern world and to take advantage of the digital evolution. Talking modern, I have made a pinky promise to finally trade in my trusty Blackberry for something a little more 21st century!
So, trade-up your (broken) new year’s resolutions for some Purple pinky promises of your own. Make disability inclusion a central part of what you do every day, and not a part time nice thing to do. If you are not the decision-maker (or budget holder), make a pinky promise to put them in the picture to make it happen.
Together, we can turn 2020 pinky Purple.
Chief Executive Officer
7 January 2020
December 23, 2019
You will need a bigger car Mr Adams. The words of the sonographer at our scan in January. Given my partner was expecting, I was not particularly surprised at the comment. But seeing two flickering heartbeats was quite a rude awakening to 2019. Eleven months on and two beautiful girls are now weening. Two fabulous book ends to capture the essence of 2019.
On Valentines Day I found myself in Motherwell, and more specifically, Motherwell Shopping Centre, meeting their security and administrative staff to thank them for their role in kick starting last year’s Purple Tuesday – the pictures of staff in purple fancy dress out on the streets were pretty iconic. If you have ever met Geraldine, the Centre Manager, you will understand what leading from the front means!
‘Leading from the Front’ was the name of our progress report on disability and the role of the Board. The launch event in September, hosted with KPMG, was simply electric. And that was due to participants telling everyone else what they had done and were going to do. The report was full of case studies showing impact made since the original document was produced in May 2018. View the full 2019 report.
The voice of participants was also the single biggest factor in the success of the second Purple Tuesday last month. In Premier League parlance, we were worried about second season syndrome. The first Purple Tuesday was something new, a breath of fresh air and a new kid on the block to support. For the second Purple Tuesday, expectations were much higher and there wasn’t the surprise factor and so we had to raise our game and be different.
Purple Tuesday reached out to all sectors. We attracted businesses from abroad. And we had some new research about the state of play in terms of customer experience by disabled people.
But it was the 8,000 social media conversations – sharing stories, video and commitments – that pushed Purple Tuesday 2019 into Champions League contention.
I would like to give a big thank you to all of you who have encouraged, coerced, dragged, and in a lot of cases, simply opened a gate to a real change in the customer experience in your organisation. There are more accessible websites, more quiet hours (and at the right time – from midday onwards), more lanyard initiatives, more people knowing British Sign Language words and more confident frontline staff. With 3,500 commitments made we have passed the tipping point with an absolute focus now on delivery and good – or should I say – ‘normal’ practice. Resetting the dial, changing existing perception and recreating a new normal is hard work. I want to say a big thank you to every member of Purple staff for their hard work, determination and graft in supporting the successes of our organisation this year.
In the words of a brilliant children’s book our current car has been a bit of a ‘squash and a squeeze’ and over the Christmas break I am committed to reviewing my large people carrier or small minibus options!
Have a great Christmas and happy new year to you all.
Chief Executive Officer
23 December 2019
December 18, 2019
December 17, 2019
My Purple Tuesday experience began with a bang back in November 2018, one week after starting at Purple. I was told at interview, a mere 5 weeks before, that Purple Tuesday was a pilot initiative that aimed to engage with 50 retail organisations. However, by the time I walked through Purple’s doors to take up my new position, over 750 organisations were signed up to get involved! To say I began my Purple journey in the middle of a whirlwind is an understatement.
Standing at Piccadilly Circus on November 13th 2018, watching the Piccadilly Lights display our Purple Tuesday messaging was pretty incredible and to later see that #PurpleTuesday was trending at #4 on Twitter was the moment I realised that something momentous was happening and that I was proud to be part of it.
Fast forward 12 months and we have successfully delivered Purple Tuesday 2019. Like last year, my expectations were hugely exceeded. We wanted to double the number of participating organisations but achieved an eye watering 355% increase. We also engaged with businesses across many different sectors of various sizes and established a footprint across continental Europe!
Disability is a value proposition for any business, anywhere and Purple Tuesday connects this message.
Personally, I was immensely proud of myself and my own achievements on the day.
9pm Monday 11th November I picked up the phone to our PR company to be informed that I was needed at the BBC studios in London the next morning to give 10 live radio interviews about Purple Tuesday. Panic struck as I felt like a fish out of water! I had no time to panic, I just needed to get on with the task at hand!
I arrived at BBC studios feeling nervous but somewhat excited. I was ushered into a small booth, headphones placed on my ears, then I heard the kind words from the producer “Charlene, are you ready? I am connecting you to BBC Jersey and host Jenny will introduce you – good luck” Queue intro music! Six minutes later my heart started beating again as I had just completed my first live interview. I didn’t have long to bask in my own glory, I had exactly 3 minutes before I was transported to my next interview in Berkshire, then Cornwall, Nottingham, Somerset and I hadn’t moved from my seat. I soon realised that the notes I had made the evening before served me little on the day. Each station had different questions, different styles and different opinions about Purple Tuesday which kept me on my toes. When I said goodbye to Naomi in Leicester, my live radio experience had come to an end. I walked away from the studio with my head held high, and a huge smile on my face. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat – now that I know what to expect.
I also had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, where multiple disability organisations were raising awareness of various disabilities to visitors and local businesses. This was truly remarkable to see a whole community come together for an important common interest. The absolute pinnacle was watching children from Redriff Primary School in Southwark singing and signing in Makaton ‘What a wonderful world’ by Louis Armstrong. My heart and eyes where swelling, not just because they were ‘wee toots’ (I am Northern Irish!) looking as cute as ever in their little school uniforms and oversized Purple Tuesday sashes, but because it emphasised to all the surrounding adults that children today understand inclusion and they embrace it. Businesses need to understand this and future proof themselves for the inclusive driven employees of tomorrow.
As we move into 2020, I am excited to be supporting so many organisations to implement their 2019 Purple Tuesday commitments. Each commitment, no matter how small, will create more ‘wee toots’ moments.
To echo what my friends at Redriff Primary School said, on behalf of Purple, I would like to say, ‘Thank you’, to each and every participating organisation for supporting your disabled customers.
Head Of Partnerships
December 10, 2019
Hidden in the frequency of election coverage last week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in 2018, the average pay for disabled employees was 12.2% lower than the average pay for non-disabled employees. This is the first official report of its type and it is clear to see there is a disability pay gap. While I applaud progress in conducting this type of report, the findings are dispiriting.
Underpaying disabled people is totally unacceptable. Disabled staff have a huge contribution to make and should not be made to feel second class or unequal to their colleagues.
For businesses having a default position of paying less is a throwback to the old days of subsidies to take disabled staff members as part of a corporate social responsibility. Nonsense. And it needs to stop.
Narrowing the employment gap for disabled people is a clear metric of success for Purple. We are unique in working with disabled people to make individuals ready for employment or help guide those back into work who have acquired a disability. We also work with businesses to promote the value of existing and future disabled staff members as part of their pipeline of talent. Overall, we help people understand that disability inclusion holds great value to organisations which should resonate from the core of the organisation.
Over the last couple of years, the gender pay gap has received a lot of publicity and focus. And rightly so. I sit on the Board of CareTech, a leading private social care provider, and the gender pay gap is a regular item on the agenda. Performance, findings and actions are now an integral part of the annual report.
Whether a legal requirement or not, organisations should report their figures on disability in the same way.
Purple is relentless in getting organisations to see disability as a commercial opportunity. As Jill Miller from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development succinctly puts it: “Businesses that aren’t inclusive – and don’t manage disability effectively – risk missing out on hard working and talented individuals and damaging their reputation among staff and customers”.
As I write this blog, I am sitting in a café of a well-known supermarket brand being served by Martin, an individual with a moderate learning disability (my customer experience has been superb). A seed of doubt whether he is being paid the same as colleagues (for the same role) occupies my mind. I have to trust he is, but it niggles.
Disability inclusion is equally important in diversity conversations and should not feel like a distant cousin.
Chief Executive Officer
10 December 2019
December 4, 2019
Talking with longstanding friends over the weekend, we touched on the subject of drive and self-motivation; discussing whether these attributes are innate and/or can be learned. Together we identified there are four core elements to these behaviours, which are: Purpose, Personal, Influence and Impact.
Arguably the most important, there needs to be a purpose to coalesce around. The individual would have to be able to define the purpose with clarity and transmit to others that wouldn’t intuitively understand it.
The purpose has to be personal to the individual. If it doesn’t resonate with them from within then the task will likely become much harder to fulfil.
There has to be an ability to contribute to change and influence the defined purpose. Going the extra mile is difficult if solely reliant on others.
And finally, you need to see an impact of distinct change. I think the technical term from my post-graduate days is a paradigm shift. Perhaps a little grand but something needs to be positively different and within a reasonable timescale. Drive may decline if there appears to be no end to the road ahead.
In applying these behaviours to a practical example, Purple Tuesday is personal to me. I am a disabled customer and I expect my experience to be comparable to others. I am aware of the history – I lived it – but in 2019 I am not being unreasonable to expect businesses wanting my money, to demonstrate that I am just as important as everyone else.
Most people know how the concept of Purple Tuesday came about. I was out shopping with my partner and in 23 of the 27 shops we visited that day, frontline staff did not approach us. In the four stores we entered where staff did approach us, they did not communicate with me, but instead chose to talk only to my partner. It was personal but not offensive as I knew the fear of unintentionally offending me was the driver to swerve the conversation.
I decided on this day that something had to change and the only way to do this was to drive awareness on a large scale, which inevitably drove the purpose of Purple Tuesday. If the experience for disabled people was to improve, then providing the tools needed to help staff and the wider organisation was the clear objective in this scenario.
Getting the message out there was a key factor in Purple Tuesday. We realised early on that the most effective way to do this would be to somehow get the media involved to ensure we gained the most influence as possible. In 2018 we secured a last-minute slot to take over Piccadilly Lights for 30 minutes at 8:30am on Purple Tuesday (11th November 2018); we were able to share our story on a much larger scale which set the bar high on the day of Purple Tuesday, resulting in numerous interviews across TV, radio and print giving us fantastic exposure to the nation on the day.
In 2019, we wanted to influence people much earlier to create an even larger impact in the lead up to and on Purple Tuesday. To do this we conducted some research on disabled people and found some astonishing results, which we then shared as a press release in the August leading up to Purple Tuesday (see the article here). Following this press release the media interviews began to roll in, which planted many more seeds in the lead up to Purple Tuesday meaning we were able to influence many more people and organisations much earlier on which really set the stage for when Purple Tuesday erupted on our screens just a couple of months later.
The impact was demonstrated by over 2,500 organisations actively participating in Purple Tuesday, not just here in the UK, but right across Europe and even reaching as far as the Middle East! Collectively, those participants have made over 3,500 commitments to improve the customer experience for disabled people which means we are achieving the purpose set out in the very beginning of all of this.
In this particular example, drive was about keeping the narrative straight and not allowing detours to traditional campaign activities. This was about organisations, so it was so important to keep the commercial argument central to our communications.
It is important now to not to get distracted by success, but to catapult ourselves into the purpose of Purple Tuesday 2020.
Mike Adams OBE
4 December 2019
November 28, 2019
November 27, 2019
Effective communication is vital to our work. Since Purple Tuesday, two weeks ago, I have engaged with even more people and organisations than I did in the run up to the day. The impact of communications is clear. The promotion and exposure generated by participating organisations – alongside high-profile media coverage – has helped force the issue, leading to genuine improvements for disabled customers.
Communication, communication, communication!
More than 2,500 Individuals and organisations pushed boundaries to agree sets of activities (commitments) which will make real differences to their customers’ experience. To say ‘thank you’, Purple provided a practical tips resource for staff and a disability inclusion training presentation pack for each organisation.
I have also spoken to many organisations who hadn’t heard about Purple Tuesday until the day. They want to get involved. I’ve been able to explain that they can sign up, make commitments and benefit from being involved, with resources from – and promotion on – our website. Purple Tuesday really is a 365-day initiative.
My colleagues and I have undertaken a range of follow-up media interviews. I’ve been asked to speak to media about disabled people who had been left on trains after two recent incidents. The agreed support put in place hadn’t happened. Everybody knows things can go wrong but good customer service is about dealing with it in real time and good communication – both of which failed to occur in these examples. Disabled people being left on a train is not a new phenomenon (it happened to me 10 years ago!) but Purple Tuesday has shone a light on why it matters to all train providers.
Finally, there have been internal debriefs about how we delivered Purple Tuesday – the factors that engaged organisations to sign up, the interventions that simply did not work, and how we ensure that the 3,500 commitments made, are now delivered.
Evidencing the tangible impact made and, more importantly, felt by disabled customers and staff, will help catapult Purple Tuesday to the next level.
This week Purple Tuesday has released some more video content (see below). I was reminded by my good friend Dowshan about what turns communication into action. Effective communicators in business, and right now in politics too, address the so-called 4 C’s: Context, Content, Conversation and Conversion.
Communication needs to be anchored by an arresting context – such as our narrative of the £249 billion Purple Pound and the commercial opportunities for organisations. The message is conveyed through different forms of creative content, from video to written text and impactful visuals. It needs to trigger conversations, such as the 8,500 social media conversations on Purple Tuesday – demonstrating interest and understanding. Ultimately, it must lead to conversion – actions which change the experience of customers.
Changing the conversation around disability is about engaging all voices, delivering commitments and continually communicating why initiatives such as Purple Tuesday, matter.
To make disability matter to your organisation every day, start a conversation about conversion and become a Purple Member today
Mike Adams OBE
Chief Executive Officer
November 26, 2019
November 25, 2019
November 19, 2019
“Has the Institute of Directors’ video gone out yet?”
“I am not sure Mike. There is literally so much content from supporting organisations – I’d need to check!”.
A conversation repeated so many times (with different asks) between myself and James, who was co-ordinating the Purple Tuesday communications.
We wanted Purple Tuesday to create an impact and be led by the 2,500+ participating organisations. We got our wish on both fronts.
You – the organisations taking part – led the celebrations
You showcased changes your organisation is making. You circulated videos among thousands of staff and consumers to improve your organisation’s disability journey. You posted hundreds of Purple Tuesday photos showing how you were taking part – from Guernsey to Glasgow and Berlin to Bermuda. You lit up your organisation: shop fronts, shopping centres and iconic landmarks that turned the UK skyline purple – including Piccadilly Lights, Blackpool Tower, the Spinnaker Tower and more.
There were more than 8,000 posts last Tuesday using the #PurpleTuesday hashtag or mentioning @PurpleTuesNov. As well as trending on social media we also secured live national broadcast media on BBC News, ITV1’s national lunchtime news, STV and BBC2’s Victoria Derbyshire Show. Between the team we also undertook 15+ interviews on regional broadcast shows, both radio and TV.
Getting the message right and consistent was key. Purple Tuesday is a business opportunity for organisations; it isn’t about one day of highlighting the needs of disabled consumers. It’s about the commitments and changes that organisations can implement that will improve the customer experience for disabled people 365 days a year.
The examples of commitments made (training, mystery shopping, lanyard schemes – and so many more) highlight the long-term nature of the pledges made for Purple Tuesday. They show that small changes to the customer experience can make genuine and significant improvements for disabled people and their families.
Getting the message right was also about presentation. A few weeks ago, my presentation style was deconstructed (torn apart!) by Malcolm Smith at a Vistage day for CEOs. Don’t be so aggressive with your tone, please blink and where are the starting and finishing bangs? I thought of Malcolm in that split second as the floor crew said “we are live” as the Victoria Derbyshire show started. At that moment the muscles in my shoulders relaxed and I started to engage in a conversation rather than giving a lecture. Lesson learnt.
And so, one week on what are my other lessons?
- Despite the Election, the dreadful flooding and the England players’ bust-up, Purple Tuesday cut through. The message was simple, the concept made common sense and the issue had resonance (I suspect the statistic that 50% of people know a disabled person is an under-representation).
- Initiatives work best – and are most powerful – when the voices behind them are from the people taking part. The people who can make a difference
- People increasingly access their information via social media and prefer to receive content in a variety of ways. Photos, videos, poems alongside brevity work well!
- 365 days needs to be hammered home. Purple Tuesday cannot deliver disability one day a year. Organisations cannot tick a box one day a year.
- Small changes make a huge difference to customers and engage staff. CareTech Foundation will never produce another (powerful) video without subtitles – their staff won’t let them. And these small changes can be made by big corporates or tiny start ups, and across all sectors.
- If you make promises, keep them. The Purple Tuesday team promised resources, support and a platform for publicly telling the world the commitments made by participating organisations. The organisations that took part now need to make good on the 3,500+ commitments to change that were made as part of Purple Tuesday. Even by my reckoning that is an average of 10 commitments per day for the next 365 days. If delivered, real change will follow.
Participating organisations don’t have to do it on their own. Purple can help you deliver the changes you’re planning. Purple Membership provides a range of support options and practical benefits for the next year. As a way of saying thank you, Purple Tuesday has produced practical Customer Service advice and a new disability inclusion slide deck to support your journey and help you tell the Purple Tuesday story.
To find out how Purple can support your organisation as you deliver vital changes to the customer experience for disabled people, visit our Purple Membership page.
We’ll be checking in with organisations to see how you’re making good on your commitments – so it’s important not to stand still. Make those changes sooner rather than later to reveal the tangible impact your changes will have on your customers – and your business!
For organisations not involved in Purple Tuesday it is not too late to join. You can register here – it takes less than five minutes – and once registered, we will add your name and logo to the Purple Tuesday website. One of your commitments should be to become a Purple Member to kick-start your disability journey.
And what happened to that IoD video? It was posted and shared widely. And was powerful.
November 13, 2019
Inclusion is not a favour: why it is time for disabled musicians to stop apologising and start to expect better
Ruth Patterson is the frontwoman of Holy Moly and the Crackers. She a wheelchair user with arthritis and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
As a touring musician, I travel all over the UK and Europe with my band. I love what I do, but I often feel under pressure to apologise for myself and my impairments, and to show excessive gratitude when even minimum effort is made to make a venue more accessible. This is somehow what society seems to expect of disabled people, and causes a lot of anxiety and imposter syndrome among the disabled community.
I’m the frontwoman of my band, and as a feisty person with a thick skin forged from many years of performing and simply existing as a wheelchair user, I had always thought that this wasn’t so much of a problem for me. But it was only when I was sat backstage in one of the only fully accessible venues in the country, tears streaming down my face, overcome with emotion at how accessible the space was, that I realised I had a much bigger problem than I thought.
Time and time again I face barriers. Indeed the music industry is one of the worst when it comes to accessibility – it seems that some venues simply don’t expect artists to have disabilities. Just think how many more disabled artists there would be if we felt welcome and our needs were catered for. And the issue extends to disabled gig-goers as well of course. How many venues are missing out on ticket sales among disabled music lovers because they don’t think disability?
It’s not just physical access barriers, like steps rather than ramps up on to stage or to the backstage area, but attitudinal barriers too. These range from claims that my concerns about downright dangerous access are overblown, to venue staff making a show of taking me to the accessible toilet: “The special toilet is over there! Make way! Wheelchair coming through!” Although possibly well intended, these unnecessary theatrics are embarrassing for me, make me feel small and single me out as different. It may sound obvious, but my advice to anyone coming into contact with a disabled person whilst at work is: if you wouldn’t reasonably say it to a non-disabled person, don’t say it to a disabled person.
I’ve also come across interesting excuses from music venues for poor or absent accessibility measures. Something I hear frequently is: “you must have faced worse than this though, eh?” The answer to this is often yes, but the fact other venues make even less effort doesn’t mean that low standards are acceptable. Another one, unbelievably, was: “We were going to get a disabled loo backstage but they’re harder to clean, so we just thought you’d manage.”
But of course I am keen to acknowledge some of the amazing places I have been lucky to work in. Shambala Festival is one example where we were able to park the van right by the stage, meaning I could take a nap when I needed to and keep my medical equipment close at hand. There was a ramp leading onto the stage, an accessible backstage area with lowered tables so I could even make my own tea, and – cherry on the cake – the accessible toilet which could only be accessed with a radar key. So it wasn’t being used as a drug den, love shack or by drunken festivalgoers who didn’t want to wait in the queue for the urinals. I had told the venue in advance what I needed – and it was done. There was no fuss and no hassle. HEAVEN.
Sadly, these experiences are few and far between. And it can really ruin the vibe when I am dressed up in my finest stage attire, feeling confident and channelling my inner Rihanna and then have to resort to the piggy back to get me up the steps to the stage. Not exactly a glamourous entrance or exit. And for someone with dislocating joints, chronic pain and fatigue, being carried up or down stairs means being worn out before the show even begins.
In spite of all of these barriers, I have chosen to persevere because I am good at what I do. Should I be forced out of my job because accessibility isn’t up to scratch? No, of course not. And I will not apologise for my access requirements any more, or cry with joy and appreciation each time someone puts down a ramp. I will simply expect better.
Access does matter. This isn’t just so venues can say they’re “disability friendly” or consider themselves “woke”. It matters because it might just make the difference between a disabled person giving up on a dream of being a musician, because it’s become too emotionally and physically draining, and choosing to persevere and follow their chosen path. Accessible venues will attract more disabled gig-goers – it’s a huge market that so many venues are currently missing out on.
And it’s not actually all that difficult to make positive changes for disabled people. Today is Purple Tuesday, a time for organisations of all shapes and sizes across all sectors to improve customer experience and accessibility for disabled people. It’s free to sign up – you just need to make a minimum of one improvement, and ensure it lasts all year round, not just on 12th November. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive; it can be something small to get started. There is loads of support and advice available to help organisations kick off their disability journey, and improve and grow year on year. Go to www.purpletuesday.org.uk to find out more.
Things need to change. Disabled people have struggled and have had to make do with inadequate facilities for too long. In order for us to have better quality of life, enjoy a gig, take an active role in society and feel able to work and contribute, we need to have the same access to everything that non-disabled people take as standard.
It also just makes good business sense. The disabled community share experiences of places which are safe and well equipped for our needs, and these places become more popular as a result. I see this everywhere I go. If you put the effort in to make your space accessible, it will help business grow.
Let’s make it the norm for every venue and every business to be inclusive for all people. Let’s go Purple!
November 13, 2019
November 13, 2019
November 12, 2019
Household names including Sainsbury’s, Sky, West Ham United, The Crown Estate and M&S to improve the customer experience for disabled people by supporting Purple Tuesday on 12th November.
New research published for Purple Tuesday reveals that poor customer service and a lack of staff understanding are among the key barriers preventing disabled consumers purchasing goods and services. The research has prompted calls for businesses and organisations to rethink how they target disabled consumers and their families, whose spending power – the so-called Purple Pound – is estimated to be £249 billion every year.
75% of disabled people have had to leave a store or website, unable to go through with their purchase because of their disability1. New research shows that most complaints from disabled people relate to experiences within the business/organisation premises, with disabled people more likely to spend money with organisations if they improve2:
- staff understanding about different disabilities (56%)
- the overall customer experience for disabled people (41%)
- store/shop/location accessibility (41%)
- website accessibility (16%)
More than 1 in 3 disabled people (34%) said poor customer service prevented them from making a purchase, while 33% blamed a lack of understanding from staff about their needs. Some disabled respondents said improvements should include ‘being treated the same as anyone else’ and having ‘knowledgeable staff’.
The research has led Purple Tuesday to call on organisations to focus on straightforward, low-cost solutions to improve the customer experience for disabled people – changes that go Beyond the Front Door. Of the 13.9 million disabled people in the UK, 80% have a hidden impairment, meaning improvements and enhancements are needed to improve access for disabled people, beyond having a ramp installed to help enter a site.
More than 2500 businesses, organisations and stores from a range of sectors have collectively pledged to make more than 3500 long-term changes to the customer experience as part of Purple Tuesday on 12 November.
- Sainsbury’s and Argos, who have announced a new trial of a weekly ‘Sunflower Hour’ in 30 stores, which involves creating a calmer environment by reducing background noise and sensory overload that launches on Purple Tuesday. The trial gives customers the option to pick up a sunflower lanyard which has been purposely designed to act as a discreet sign for store colleagues to recognise if they may need to provide a customer with additional support. Sainsbury’s was the first retailer to trial this initiative in 2018.
- Microsoft Store, which has committed to educating not only the community but retail businesses on how to create accessible retail experiences, work environments and improving the lives of customers and employees living with disabilities. Register to attend a free accessibility workshop here.
- The Crown Estate, which is working to assess the accessibility of its places in order to provide better information for disabled people and to identify areas for plan improvement.
- Arsenal FC, which has a Sensory Room and Sensory Sensitive viewing room for people who are Autistic or who have Sensory Needs and their families. Arsenal have also launched their first Sensory Hour within the club shop and have introduced a bespoke workshop on Sensory needs for all match day stewards and other key public facing members of staff, as well as launching a new service for deaf or hard of hearing fans that use British Sign Language and setting up a Disability Forum.
- M&S, which is committed to being the U.K.’s most accessible retailer and has introduced a number of improvements to its stores and website over the past few years – including becoming the first retailer to introduce Sunflower Lanyards into all stores for those with hidden disabilities. Earlier this month M&S ran a colleague campaign “Making Every Day Accessible” introducing a number of resources for colleagues including a top tips for being disability confident video, a guide on how to run sensory friendly shopping hours and a new ‘hard of hearing’ uniform.
- Blakemore Retail, which is providing training for 4300 staff and making training available to their 700 independent SPAR Retailers
- Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which has shopping centres participating across Europe, including Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City as well as centres in Spain, Germany, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Mike Adams OBE, Chief Executive of Purple, said:
“Meeting the needs of disabled customers makes commercial sense for organisations of all sizes, from all sectors, but our message to organisations is: you don’t have to spend big budgets to make lasting change. That’s why we’re urging organisations to focus on improvements that go ‘beyond the front door’. Introducing staff training and improving website accessibility are low cost changes, but the difference to a company’s bottom line – as well as to a disabled consumer’s personal experience – can be significant.
“Purple Tuesday has more than doubled in size this year, with more than 2500 organisations from a variety of sectors making commitments to improve the customer experience for disabled people. These are long-term changes that will have a lasting impact for millions of customers – and improve the commercial opportunities for the organisations involved.”
The purple pound is worth £249 billion and is rising by an average of 14% per annum, yet it is estimated that less than 10% of businesses have a targeted plan to access this disability market. 3 Purple Tuesday’s research shows that more than 80% of disabled people say businesses could do more to be accessible and encourage them to spend money.
Organisations can contact Purple for advice on how they can improve their approach to disabled consumers. Example changes include:
- Conducting an online audit of your website to improve accessibility
- Training staff to know and understand how to communicate effectively with disabled customers
- Getting front line staff to learn basic British Sign Langue skills to communicate with those customers from the deaf community
- Conducting an on-site audit to ensure the physical space is suitable for every customer to get around the area easily
- Improving wayfair signage around the facility
- Introducing quiet hours on a regular basis to help people who struggle with music, tannoys and noise.
Participating organisations’ comments
West Ham United Vice-Chairman Baroness Karren Brady said:
“Equality is at the heart of everything we do at West Ham United and ensuring that our club is accessible to everyone is a way of thinking which is embedded throughout our club.
“The Disabled Supporters’ Board, which I am proud to Chair alongside our fantastic supporter co-Chairs, has led the way on these important topics since moving to London Stadium. There are obvious ways in which our fans see this; through services like our 18 strong fleet of free supporter shuttle buses on matchdays which just gets bigger and better, our disability liaison officers around the stadium, new audio commentary devices with wider range of collections points, or the installation of RADAR lock system across all accessible toilets throughout the stadium.
“Purple Tuesday is a fantastic initiative going on across the nation in lots of different shops, and we’re proud to support it for the second year running.”
Tim Fallowfield, Board Sponsor for Disability Carers and Age at Sainsbury’s and Argos, comments:
“We’re proud to show our continued support to Purple Tuesday and believe all our customers should feel confident when shopping, all year round. Not all disabilities are visible so by taking steps such as introducing a weekly Sunflower Hour, we hope to provide an enhanced experience and reassurance for our customers.”
John Carter, Senior Store Manager of the flagship Microsoft Store in London, said:
“Technology is a tool for everyone and our products and services are designed for people of all abilities. We are supporting Purple Tuesday’s call to improve the customer experience for disabled people, by inviting retailers to learn how to create accessible experiences and cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace for customers and employees. We will also be running free customer workshops on our accessibility tools and features. From supporting students living with dyslexia to read with confidence, to helping people with limited mobility to write with their voice, we’re calling for everyone to learn how accessibility tools can empower you to achieve more in your life.”
Judith Everett, Chief Operating Officer at The Crown Estate, said:
“We recognise the need to improve the experience for disabled people whether shopping, eating out or at work and, with some of the world’s most historic and iconic destinations on our portfolio, we’re proud to support Purple Tuesday and play our part in generating meaningful long-term change.
“Over the past year we have continued to progress on our disability journey and have carried out detailed audits of our websites and some of our most popular destinations, including Regent Street and flagship retail centres around the UK. We are also working closely with our extensive network to raise awareness and provide practical tips on changes that can be made to target disabled customers.”
Zoe Mountford, Lead Sustainability Manger at Marks & Spencer said:
“We’re committed to making M&S the UK’s most accessible retailer, whether customers are shopping online or in-store. Earlier this year we became the first retailer to introduce sunflower lanyards for customers with hidden disabilities into all of our stores, this came one year after we launched daywear for children with disabilities and two years after we published AccessAble Guides. We know that the very best thing we can do is give great service and we work hard to make sure all our 80,000 colleagues feel disability confident.
“Purple Tuesday is a great opportunity to remind our stores of all the great resources we have introduced over the past year such as our colleague guide on how to support customers who are hard of hearing and our top tips video on how to be confident serving customer with disabilities.”
Alun Francis, Arsenal’s Disability Access Officer, said:
“We recognise that British Sign Language is most deaf people’s first language. As part of our Arsenal for Everyone programme we are committed to making our services as accessible as possible to everyone. This new service is part of this.
Helen Honstvet, Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, said:
“It’s great to see so many big names supporting Purple Tuesday and trying to make shopping more inclusive and accessible. We recognise that many retailers have come a long way, but we still hear all too often from people with sight loss who face persistent and unnecessary difficulties when shopping.
“When somewhere like a shop or restaurant can’t or won’t accommodate someone with sight loss, that’s not only potentially illegal but it can also be a huge blow to that person’s feelings of acceptance in society and willingness to go out independently.
“At Guide Dogs we help people with sight loss to have independence – whether that’s through our life-changing guide dog partnerships or other services. If an individual is prevented from making a purchase due to their sight loss, it can understandably knock their confidence and stop them living life to the full.”
Matt Teague, Managing Director, Blakemore Retail, said:
“We are proud to support the step change that Purple Tuesday drives. We understand the importance of creating an inclusive and positive shopping experience for all of our customers, no matter their personal needs. For the second year running we’ll be training all of our store staff to ensure that they are considerate of all shoppers needs – as well as providing them with hints and tips on how to create a positive customer experience. It’s important that we all get on-board with this campaign and I really hope you will join the campaign to make a difference”
Last year more than 750 organisations participated in Purple Tuesday, making a collective 1,500 commitments to improve how they meet the needs of disabled consumers.
For more information on Purple Tuesday, please visit www.PurpleTuesday.org.uk.
Notes to Editors
About Purple Tuesday
Purple Tuesday 2019 is an international call to action focused on changing the customer experience for disabled people. It calls on organisations from all sectors and sizes, to take decisive practical actions to meet the needs of disabled customers. Purple Tuesday is part of Purple’s vision for organisations to see disability as an opportunity – both in terms of existing and potential employees and customers – and to be part of addressing the inequality that exists for disabled people through increasing the accessibility of everything they do.
1 Extra Costs Commission: Final Report. Scope, March 2015
2 Research Conducted: 15/08/2019 – 22/08/2019. Sample: 501 respondents in the UK who consider themselves to be disabled.
3 Leading from the front, Disability and the role of the Board, KPMG, May 2018: https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/uk/pdf/2018/05/leading-from-the-front-disability-and-the-role-of-the-board.pdf
November 11, 2019
Tomorrow is Purple Tuesday. On behalf of all the team at Purple I wanted to say a big thank you to the 2000+ participants for what you have already done – including over 3,500 commitments – and for what you will do tomorrow and for the next 365 days.
It’s exciting to see all the plans you have made to mark the occasion appearing on Twitter and Instagram. From organised events and social media activations through to the merchandise decking your organisation purple and clothing to be worn, it looks set to be a fantastic celebration of the Purple Pound.
I am delighted that the Piccadilly Lights will go Purple Tuesday from 8am for half an hour. We have produced a one-minute story setting out the Purple Tuesday vision that will be shown on a loop. We aim to beat the trending and exposure we achieved last year and you can help us to achieve this – both in media activity some of you are already taking part in and on social media by using the hashtag #PurpleTuesday in your posts. We are also lighting up Blackpool Tower as the town goes purple – they have even written a song to celebrate the Purple Pound!
Last Friday we had more than 30 registrations and they have continued to come in over the weekend. Already today over 20 new organisations have been registered. It reinforces the point that Purple Tuesday is 365 days. Tomorrow is a celebration, but the impact is about long-term changes that improve the customer experience. Small changes can make a significant positive difference and change doesn’t discriminate between whether they were planned last month, today or in the coming weeks.
Tomorrow is day one of 365. Purple Tuesday, and its founding organisation Purple, will be there to support you on the journey. And by you we mean your entire organisation: your staff, your customers, your supply chain, your owners and/or funders.
Look out in the coming days for special offers to the 2,000+ participating organisations about how to keep the momentum going. We know it gets busy in the run up to Christmas and new year – for different reasons across all sectors – but Purple Tuesday is ready to help you to deliver your plans in 2020.
Embrace tomorrow. Enjoy tomorrow. And see you on the other side!
November 11, 2019
November 6, 2019
November 5, 2019
What have Microsoft, Fullers, Regatta, Sky, Bespoke Hotels and Cadbury Outlet shops got in common? In the last seven days they have registered to participate in Purple Tuesday.
All these organisations have joined almost 2,000 other participants in making commitments which improve the customer experience for disabled people and their families. All of them are building from activities and experiences already existing within the organisation. And all recognise that even small changes to people’s experience can make a huge positive impact.
With seven days to go we are on course to make this the biggest and best Purple Tuesday. Crucially participants are signing up to a stretching set of commitments which can be delivered and embedded 365 days a year. Trending commitments include: staff learning hello and goodbye in British Sign Language; adopting the ‘Not all disabilities are visible’ signage; an accessibility audit of website and other digital platforms; and the formalisation of quiet hours.
I don’t like to single out organisations when there is so much good stuff going on, but I will make an exception to demonstrate some key points.
The White Horse in Dorking is emblematic of all the things for which Purple Tuesday stands. As part of the hotel’s renovation they decided to modernise their accessible rooms. Why? Because they are passionate about injecting delight and joy into the look and feel of their facilities for their disabled customers. The case study has shown a demand for these rooms. These rooms have delivered £6,900 additional revenue versus standard rooms on a like for like basis. The commercials stack up on their own.
Purple Tuesday, and Purple itself, have stood on the stump (excuse the Election jargon!) making the case disability is a commercial opportunity and not just a good thing to do. The White Horse has shown why others should simply follow suit.
To make small changes involves engaging your staff as they exemplify your brand to disabled customers. Blakemore Retail have 281 stores and 4,300 of their staff have and will be trained in customer service for disabled people via an e-learning module they have created. A real whole organisational approach to taking staff with you as they each transform the experience of their customers.
If you haven’t signed up to Purple Tuesday it is not too late. To register takes no more than five minutes (www.purpletuesday.org.uk/get-involved/).
As my six-year-old son cheekily said to me this morning as we drove to school: “Dad, it’s seven sleeps to Purple Tuesday!”.
Mike Adams OBE
November 4, 2019
November 1, 2019
October 31, 2019
October 21, 2019
October 15, 2019
October 11, 2019
This week I was recognised in the Shaw Trust Power 100 List of Britain’s most influential disabled people. It’s an important accolade both for me personally and for the work we are doing at Purple to demonstrate the opportunity of the £249 billion disability market (the Purple Pound).
On my way to the Power 100 event, the irony was not lost on me that all disabled people are influential. As disabled customers, we all face barriers when trying to buy goods or services – whether on the high street or online – and often have to use our powers of initiative, persuasion, persistence and more to get what we need.
As I reflected on this, my observations were quickly proven right by challenges I faced trying to reach the Shaw Trust 100 Power List event at the House of Lords. I needed all my influential skills just to make it to the venue.
The two-week climate demonstrations in London have caused major road disruption in Westminster. I’m sure that the climate change protesters are acting with the best of intentions – but their blockade around Westminster had serious repercussions for me.
The security operation in place meant I was told that I would need to walk (walking anything but short distances is not possible for me). I persuaded my taxi driver that I would talk to the police, which I did, to let us drive through the secured area to get near to Parliament. I then had to negotiate walking in between hundreds of demonstrators lining the roads and pavements, which saw me joined by a group of 20 protesters, all dressed in red outfits with white powdered faces, who followed me to the Black Rod’s Garden Entrance!
I also had to use all my influencing skills on the return leg, persuading the police to allow my booked transport back into the security zone to pick me up. I don’t often feel vulnerable, but being marooned in Westminster with no transport to get back to the station was a moment where I did feel stranded.
It was a fantastic event, with so many powerful and influential disabled people sharing their ideas and experiences. But on reflection, I was left disappointed at not being able to meet more disabled colleagues who were recognised in the Power List, many of whom were not able to attend due to the transport restrictions.
At Purple, travel and transport is a key part of our Purple Tuesday initiative to help businesses meet the needs of their disabled customers. In our view, as soon as businesses and organisations recognise the need to be more proactive in meeting the needs of disabled people – 1 in 5 of the population – the disabled customer’s experience will vastly improve. And the organisations that do this best will prosper.
I feel we will need all our influence – from the Shaw Trust’s Power 100 List to each and every disabled consumer – to help businesses and organisations realise this commercial reality.
So help us change the conversation on Purple Tuesday – encourage your local organisations to get involved in time for 12 November 2019, when we’ll celebrate the thousands of commitments businesses and organisations are making to improve the customer experience. Visit purpletuesday.org.uk to find out more.
October 1, 2019
September 25, 2019
September 24, 2019
Last week my 12-year-old daughter started secondary school. It was a new beginning for her, particularly as the school was brand new. My partner and I did all we could to prepare her – new uniform, new shoes and a refresh of the pencil case. We reminded her about the importance of education and a need to take responsibility for herself and her actions. But though we’ve done all we can to give her the tools to succeed, it will ultimately be up to her to get the most out of her education.
As Purple move into the final stages of preparing businesses for Purple Tuesday 2019, I can see some parallels, albeit on a more ‘grown-up’ level. Every business I have spoken to absolutely gets what Purple Tuesday is about and sees the potential value to their organisation. That’s because the narrative is powerful: improve your customer experience for disabled people and their families to access the disability market estimated at £249 billion a year (the Purple Pound).
But we still need to win the hearts and minds of business leaders against a backdrop of tough economic conditions on the high street and across all sectors. Recent figures show we are teetering on the edge of recession, and businesses are rightly cautious about making changes they might perceive as costly now, and having uncertain future gains.
But Purple Tuesday should play a part in the growth strategy of a business. It is not a campaign. It provides businesses with the knowledge and the tools to access a massive, but largely untouched, disability market and gain a competitive advantage over rival businesses. And the central solution is the raison d’etre of business – delivering an excellent customer experience that will drive greater volumes of loyal customers.
This year we have gone further to support businesses who sign up to Purple Tuesday, providing a wide range of resources and templates to help them work through their commitments and engage all stakeholders including staff and senior managers. Last year we created downloads for organisations to decorate their stores and offices with Purple Tuesday merchandise. This year we have added an online store to buy all the merchandise needed to turn businesses purple. And we have given organisations the opportunity for further brand alignment with Purple Tuesday through a range of sponsorship packages.
We’re going to make a huge noise about Purple Tuesday in the media too – we anticipate a level of broadcast and print coverage this year that will provide an unmissable opportunity to promote positive stories and increase the profile of participating businesses.
I am very encouraged to see repeat business. Organisations who got involved last year have signed up for more and have committed to greater stretching actions.
There are also some new entrants into the market – especially as this year Purple Tuesday is open to all sectors and organisations across hospitality, insurance, banking and tourism are getting involved. There are organisations of all shapes and sizes from large corporates to one-person micro enterprises determined to improve the customer experience. And disability has no borders as we are start to see sign-ups from organisation right across the world.
Getting Purple Tuesday right is a revenue earner and customer generative. Organisations should see it as an opportunity and not simply one more thing to do.
Getting my daughter to see her weekend’s homework as an opportunity might be a slightly harder task!
September 19, 2019
September 17, 2019
September 16, 2019
New research shows UK businesses – including high street brands – are losing millions of pounds of revenue every year by turning their backs on disabled consumers.
More than 13 million people in the UK – a fifth of the population – are disabled.
A new poll of people who consider themselves to be disabled has found that more than half of respondents are struggling to make purchases of a product/service due to their disability. Disabled young people (aged 16-24) fare the worst – more than three-quarters of them say they have found it difficult to buy goods online or in person due to their disability on more than one occasion.
Some four in five disabled customers say businesses could do more to be accessible and more than half (56%) agreed that improving staff understanding about different disabilities would encourage them to spend their disposable income, estimated to be £249 billion a year. Separate research has shown that 75% of disabled people have had to leave a store or website, unable to go through with their purchase because of their disability.
Respondents state that retail is the most accessible business to purchase from, followed by banking and hospitality/leisure/restaurants. The research comes as businesses and organisations prepare for ‘Purple Tuesday’ on 12 November, a day which celebrates UK companies that are improving the customer experience for disabled shoppers. Major names taking part include Sainsbury’s and Intu.
Mike Adams OBE, Chief Executive of Purple, the disability organisation behind Purple Tuesday, said:
“While many UK businesses and organisations are stepping up to the mark and making the changes needed to improve disabled customers’ experiences, far too many are not.
“This is a huge mistake, not least because by turning their backs on disabled shoppers, they are losing out on millions of pounds of revenue every year.
“It should simply not be the case that one in two disabled people struggle to make purchases online or in person. Small changes can make a big difference to the customer experience; we want to help organisations have the confidence to improve their services for disabled people.”
Disabled consumers told pollsters that inaccessible and unusable locations, poor customer service and a lack of understanding about disabilities were the main reasons they struggled to spend their money.
Over 1 in 5 said that hiring more disabled people would make them more likely to make a purchase and some stated that “wider aisles” or “lighter doors” would have the same effect. The findings support previous research, which shows that less than 10% of organisations have a dedicated strategy for targeting disabled customers4.
The potential of the purple pound is clear – disabled people say they spend on average £163 on retail per month, £98 on travel, £69 on insurance, £78 on hospitality (such as at restaurants or on leisure activities) and £19 on gym or health activities.
Carole Hughes (Pictured), from Liverpool, was born with spina bifida and has been using a wheelchair since 2015. She shops regularly at large supermarkets and department stores around the city. Carole said:
“I often have problems getting around stores and supermarkets, either because the aisles are too narrow or there are items blocking the way. It can be a challenge to find staff who are willing to help – sometimes I’m made to feel like a nuisance when I ask for basic assistance.
“There needs to be more consistency with staff training. Other things like making more doors open automatically and locating accessible parking spaces close to store entrances also make a huge difference to wheelchair users.
“I’d urge all organisations to sign up to Purple Tuesday and make sure they are providing a better shopping experience to their disabled customers.”
Organisations that register for Purple Tuesday will benefit from free resources from Purple on topics such as website accessibility and customer service training. In exchange, Purple asks that business make a minimum of one commitment to improve the customer experience for disabled people.
These commitments might be major transformations or simple, smaller steps that can improve the experience of disabled customers. Examples include conducting an audit of an organisation’s website to ensure it’s accessible or staff training to help them communicate effectively with disabled consumers.
For more information on Purple Tuesday, please visit www.purpletuesday.org.uk.
Last year, which was the first ever Purple Tuesday, more than 750 organisations took part, pledging 1,500 commitments to improve disabled people’s customer experiences. They included some of the biggest brands on the high street, including Argos, Asda, Barclays, Sainsburys.
Purple are proud to announce that we have multiple co-signed industry letters to help even more organisations get involved with Purple Tuesday to improve the customer experience for disabled people. We would like to encourage you to download the letter most relevant to your sector and distribute this within your network.
Download the Retail letter: co-signed by Mike Adams, Purple CEO and Samantha Sen, Retail Sector Champion Head of Policy and Campaigns, Revo.
Download the Travel letter: co-signed by Mike Adams, Purple CEO and Stephen Brookes MBE
Rail Sector Champion for the Minister for Disabled People
Download the Insurance letter: co-signed by Mike Adams, Purple CEO and Johnny Timpson
Disability Champion for the Insurance Industry and Profession
Download the Disability Confident Retailers letter: co-signed by Mike Adams, Purple CEO and Edward Warner, Spaces & Products Government Sector Champion
August 23, 2019
August 16, 2019
July 8, 2019
Allan lives in Wishaw with his wife Fiona, a care home worker, and last year was employed as a security guard for Motherwell Shopping Centre in Scotland.
During his time at Motherwell Shopping Centre, Allan was pleased to take part in Purple Tuesday – a day dedicated to changing the customer experience for disabled people. The shopping centre fully immersed itself in Purple Tuesday – staff wore purple t-shirts, the centre was filled with thousands of purple balloons and shop windows were decorated with purple stickers and banners. Most importantly, in addition to raising awareness on the day of Purple Tuesday, Motherwell Shopping Centre made a long-term commitment to their disabled customers and put their staff through a dementia awareness training course.
Shortly after Purple Tuesday, Allan was made aware that a regular shopper, known to staff as Jimmy, was visiting the centre. Jimmy was an older gentleman and well known to the centre’s security guards as he frequently became cross with shop staff and was often asked to leave as a result.
Inspired by what he had learnt through his dementia awareness training, Allan decided that perhaps there was a reason for the way Jimmy communicated with staff, so he spent a little time with Jimmy, to find out if he required any assistance. After speaking with him, Allan realised that Jimmy was living with dementia and was getting upset with shop staff when he couldn’t communicate his needs.
This simple offer of a conversation helped to solve Jimmy’s problem. Allan explains: “After I’d taken the time to speak to Jimmy, he explained he was looking for a part he needed to fix a clock but said shop staff couldn’t understand what he wanted. As frustrations rose, this usually resulted in Jimmy being asked to leave the shopping centre. I sympathised with him as I could see why this would be so upsetting.
“I accompanied Jimmy to a hardware store in the shopping centre that I thought might have the part. When he had what he needed, Jimmy became quite overwhelmed and started to cry a little. I think it was just out of sheer relief that someone had finally taken the time to listen to him and understand what he wanted.
“Due to what I have learnt through my wife’s work and my own dementia awareness training, I had a good understanding of some of the life challenges people with dementia face on a day-to-day basis. Purple Tuesday helps to remind us that not all disabilities are visible and some people require a little more assistance than others; I feel that I can somewhat relate to this, as I have a minor learning difficulty myself.
“I was able to help Jimmy that day and help him to overcome the frustrations he was facing as a customer. Although I personally no longer work at the shopping centre, I am told he still visits often and his experience has become that little bit easier – the centre has become an important community space for him.
“It’s true that a simple conversation can completely change someone’s experience, and I’m pleased I was able to help Jimmy that day.”
Purple Tuesday is a milestone awareness moment for an issue that is relevant 365 days a year. With support from Purple, businesses can change the customer experience for disabled people for good.
July 3, 2019
November 12, 2018
When I was growing up my disabled peers instilled in me the adage: ‘Nothing about us, without us’. In other words, issues of disability should centrally involve the lived experience of disabled people and their representative organisations.
Tomorrow, Purple Tuesday will model a modern-day version of that adage. If retail is to improve the accessibility of the shopping experience for disabled people and their families then awareness needs to be raised and the right commitments undertaken. This should be done alongside disabled people. And this is exactly what we are doing.
Purple Tuesday is not simply about one day. It is what follows over the next 364 days and beyond.
Therefore, it felt fitting to use my final blog to showcase the voices of other disabled people and their representative organisations.
Claire Bickley from Sight Loss Councils says:
“Shopping is an experience everyone should enjoy. As blind and partially sighted people we want retailers to recognise us as valued customers and making some small changes could go a huge way in improving our experience. On Purple Tuesday we will be visiting retailers at the Bullring in Birmingham to ask them about how they support people with sight loss who visit their shops.
We hope as many shops get on board with Purple Tuesday and recognise the power of the purple pound!”
Purple Tuesday has really shone a light on the issue of hidden disability and so we are delighted to be supported by Kathryn Albany-Ward, CEO of Colour Blind Awareness. Kathryn highlights the sensitivities and practicalities of even the colour purple:
“Despite the irony that most of the 3 million people in the UK that Colour Blind Awareness represents have never experienced the colour purple, we are fully behind Purple Tuesday. It’s a fantastic opportunity to highlight to retailers and landlords how they can generate additional turnover just by taking some simple steps. Here’s an opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives by ensuring an inclusive retail experience everyone, including those with hidden disabilities such as with colour blindness. In these competitive and uncertain times can you afford not to? Today isn’t about jumping onto bandwagons, so make the most of it.”
Pan-disability organisations are also showing their fill support. Clare Grey, Disability Advocacy Advisor at the Shaw Trust commented:
“Shaw Trust welcomes the opportunity to be involved and to support this vitally important initiative. As a charity that works extensively in this arena, we believe that it is intrinsic to our mission and values as an organisation that we do everything possible to achieve equality of opportunity and improve accessibility for all. We are sure the day will be a roaring success and we hope that this event helps to drive the change that makes accessibility a reality on Britain’s high streets.”
Organisations that provide a vital transport link to and from shopping destinations are also fully supportive of Purple Tuesday. David Bermingham, CEO of Accessible Transport has said:
‘We, the Accessible Transport Group (ATG) are a charity dedicated to supporting people across the West Midlands who have mobility restrictions, whether physical, mental or sensory. We are promoting our Ring and Ride service, igo Community bus routes and Birmingham Shopmobility to help make this event a success and raise awareness of accessibility’. David Bermingham Chief Executive.
AccessAble (formerly Disabled Go) have recently published a survey involving 845 disabled people right across the UK, about the quality of information provided by venues, only 14% of recipients felt they received the quality of information required with 77% of respondents having left a venue after finding accessibility wasn’t what they expected. A challenge but straightforward to make a significant difference. Barry Stevenson, Chair of AccessAble commented:
“We fully support Purple Tuesday and hope it will raise awareness of the barriers disabled people and carers face. Our recent survey has shown the overwhelming need for better accessibility information to enable people to find the places that are right for them. We hope that this need for information is viewed alongside staff training, physical access improvements and inclusive employment practices to create a more inclusive shopping experience for all.”
Tomorrow is the big day. Let’s work together to shine a light on accessibility and the importance of making the shopping experience inclusive for all.
November 5, 2018
When we first started out we thought, if we were lucky, we would have about 50 organisations involved in Purple Tuesday. As a new venture, we knew it was the right thing to do and knew it had potential but could only dream of having the platform of Sky News and the success of 100s of sign-ups. At just over 500 registrations of interest, we have well and truly surpassed even what was in our dreams!
I have spoken to many of you electronically and read your survey responses. The pledges and commitments you are making will ensure the impact will be so much more than just one day. And many more of you are not stopping at just one commitment but are putting in place a series of actions to transform the shopping experience for disabled people and their families. There are too many to list, but here are some of the commitments we have been told of:
- Those who have previously introduced quiet hours are changing the day and time to make it a more prominent part of their customer offer
- Organisations are refreshing their training offer (Hello, can I help you?) to include disability modules
- Many of you are undertaking web accessibility audits
- Organisations already surveying customers want to include accessibility questions going forward
- Some of you are using the 13 November as the day to launch pre-planned initiatives which will improve the customer experience
As well as these commitments, I have also seen so many exciting plans for the day itself, from purple cakes being served in cafes to purple lighting, information stands hosted by local disability organisations to purple dressed mannequins – we even have a special edition purple version of a shopping centre logo in recognition of the day!
Alongside those directly involved in retail we have received a huge level of support from disabled people and their representative organisations. Our direct call to action to this important group is also going out so we will be able to share with you the direct experience of disabled people when they shop. We are also delighted so many local authorities, wider community groups and others are so keen to get involved in any way they can.
I, and the rest of Purple, are so excited about Purple Tuesday. Not just for the day itself, but for what it can achieve. We have always said this is not about one day. The 13thNovember is about raising awareness to instigate longer term change for the benefit of all.
Together, I truly believe we are and will create something really special.
Corporate Services Manager, Purple
October 26, 2018
Last week Mike Adams talked about the origin of Purple Tuesday, and why it is so important to him and disabled people.
As Retail Sector Champion, I wanted to say a few words about why disability is important to retail.
As Co-Chair of the Government’s retail roundtable I can say I was there when Mike first made the suggestion last November. It was a fantastic idea and an easy proposition for everyone to support. And the number of retail outlets, shopping centres and landlords signing up every day reinforces the willingness of retail, as a whole, to make the shopping and leisure experiences a pleasure for everyone.
At Revo, we launched our Accessible Places toolkit containing a range of practical resources, supporting the sector navigate its way through issues of disability. In so many ways, Purple Tuesday is a natural extension of this, with retail companies making public commitments to introduce at least one new initiative – and to embed it into the DNA of what they do. I have been amazed and humbled by the ideas and creativity in equal measure. From organisations who are supporting their staff to learn hello and goodbye in British sign language, commitments to reflect disability and disabled people in marketing campaigns, the creation of a disability module, through to an audit of website accessibility and commitments to improve signage.
Collectively, these commitments will make a huge impact. The retail sector can have such an enormous part to play in making retail places up and down the country inclusive and welcoming to people and families with disabilities.
I am proud to be associated with Purple Tuesday and so should you.
Retail Sector Champion for Disability
October 22, 2018
With 24 days to go until the first Purple Tuesday, I continue to be astounded by how much interest and support we are receiving. The last three months have been a whirlwind, from our launch on Sky News (which we could not have anticipated, and which catapulted a vision into a reality) to today when we are at over 300 registrations of interest and expecting upwards of 500 organisations on the day. I have spoken to many of you already and am committed to speaking to as many of you personally as possible either before, during or immediately after Purple Tuesday.
I am first and foremost a CEO and business leader in my own right, but as a disabled man Purple Tuesday will always be about more than it just making business sense.
During my childhood disabled people were in many ways not to be seen, or if we were, were seen as beneficiaries of charity and users of welfare and care. I used to get taken on my school ‘happy bus’ as we called it, from my special school in Sussex once a month to the nearby town where we were taken into one shop as a ‘treat’ and able to spend any pocket money our parents had provided. The shop and town itself treated our arrival like a special event. I very much felt a disabled person, rather than a person first who happened to have a disability.
Fast forward to 2018, and the world is a very different place for sure. Our towns and shops are far more accessible, and I believe I am generally treated the same as people who do not have a disability. But I still feel a sense of trepidation. Shop staff are still unsure of engaging with me – not because of prejudice, but a fear of unintentionally offending me through the wrong language or etiquette. This results in them swerving the conversation altogether. This can make life feel ‘very disabled’ when I go shopping. Physical access still remains an issue for me. Many stores have wheelchair access now, which is great, but it’s when you get inside the difficulties can start with crowded layouts making it very difficult to get around without damaging anything. Essentially my shopping experience can be stressful, which in turn puts me off going (if you put aside the fact I don’t like shopping anyway!), which in turn means I potentially don’t make purchases.
These experiences are not unique to me which is why I created Purple. A company that for the first time would uniquely bring together an understanding of disability and an understanding of business, with a vision and mission to create true societal change for the benefit of both.
Purple Tuesday is an embodiment of that vision. It will bring together disabled consumers with retailers to raise awareness of the barriers and experiences of disabled people, whilst also fully acknowledging it is not about one day. It is about a commitment to accessible services and understanding the challenges business also face. True change doesn’t happen in one day or overnight.
I truly believe we are on the brink of something big which can make a difference to the everyday lives of disabled people as well as the wider business cultural attitudes towards disability. We have already had international interest in the day and we can show the world how its done, firmly establishing the UK as leaders in this field.
So let’s do this. Let’s make 2018 the year of the first accessible shopping day, and the catalyst for making the UK a more accessible place.
Mike Adams OBE
Chief Executive Officer, Purple
To register your interest to take part in Purple Tuesday, please visit purpletuesday.org.uk
Already registered for Purple Tuesday, but want to find out more about how Purple can support you to deliver your commitment to improve accessibility? Please click here to find out more about Purple’s membership offer.
September 4, 2018
In our latest webinar Mike Adams, CEO of Purple and Sam Sen, Retail Sector Champion, talk about Why Purple Tuesday is so important and how the sector can get involved in turning the UK purple on 13th November.
August 14, 2018
London, Tuesday 14th August – The UK’s first day dedicated to accessible shopping will take place during the run up to Christmas 2018. ‘Purple Tuesday’ on Tuesday 13th November will see retailers across the country – and online – introduce new measures to make the shopping experience more inclusive for disabled customers.
The initiative is being co-ordinated by the disability organisation Purple and has been endorsed by the government. Leading brands including Argos, Asda, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencer have already pledged their support, as have owners of some of the UK’s busiest shopping destinations such as The Crown Estate, Landsec (Bluewater) and Hammerson (Birmingham Bullring).
Estimates put the collective spending power of disabled people and their families (the ‘Purple Pound’) at £249bn. However, research by the Department for Work and Pensions puts both shopping and eating and drinking out in the top three most difficult experiences for disabled people based on accessibility.
These issues are felt more acutely in the peak Christmas shopping period. A poll of 200 disabled people by Purple back in December found that more than one in two disabled people were concerned about overcrowding. A similar proportion said they have left a store or abandoned a purchase because of a poor customer experience.
Purple Tuesday will also promote accessible e-commerce. The Click-Away Pound survey suggests that retailers are missing out on significant volumes of online sales. In 2016, inaccessible websites and apps accounted for an estimated £11.75 billion in lost revenue in the UK alone.
The organisers are calling on more retailers to join them in signing up to take part on the day and to look at how they can delight their disabled customers – in-store or online – and reap the commercial benefits.
“There’s a vast array of adjustments retailers can make that will have a significant impact, and many that can be implemented quickly,” explains Mike Adams, CEO of Purple. “Customer service is a perfect example – as part of Purple Tuesday we’ll be providing a simple training kit to help in-store staff feel confident in assisting disabled shoppers.”
“Less than 10% of companies have a dedicated strategy for targeting disabled customers. Fundamentally, Purple Tuesday isn’t about a single day in the year but encouraging lasting change that creates a virtuous circle between businesses and disabled consumers.”
Jo Moran, Head of Customer Service at Marks & Spencer said: “The accessibility of our stores and website is extremely important to us, so we’re delighted to support Purple Tuesday. Taking place in the run up to Christmas it’s a great opportunity for us to refresh our training with colleagues to ensure we’re offering the best possible service for all our customers.”
Tim Fallowfield, Company Secretary & Corporate Services Director for Sainsbury’s, said: “We’re extremely proud to be supporting Purple Tuesday. As part of our vision to be the most inclusive retailer, we are always looking for ways to improve and adapt to meet our customers’ needs, which was brought to light with Sainsbury’s achieving Disability Confident Leader Status last year. By taking steps towards improving accessible shopping during the busiest shopping period of the year, we hope to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges, while also providing an enhanced shopping experience for our disabled customers.”
The Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Sarah Newton, said: “Shopping should be a pleasant experience, but for many disabled people it can often be the cause of distress and frustration. By failing to cater to their disabled customers, many businesses are missing out on billions of pounds and denying disabled people the opportunity to enjoy something which many people take for granted.
“I look forward to working alongside Purple and members of my Disability Retail Forum on this hugely important agenda, highlighting examples of best practice in the retail sector and encouraging others to make small changes which can make a massive difference to their customers.”
Russell Loveland, Landsec’s Senior Portfolio Director, Retail, said: “Purple Tuesday is a brilliant initiative, which Landsec is very proud to support. We’re committed to improving the experience of shopping for disabled guests at our retail destinations.”
Mark Bourgeois, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Hammerson, said: “As curators and managers of destinations, it is our responsibility to ensure that everyone in the community feels comfortable using them. Our centres are focal points within cities and it is important that they are accessible to all. Purple Tuesday is a welcome opportunity and one we are thoroughly supportive of.”
The full list of participating businesses and Purple Tuesday events will be announced in October. For more information please visit purpletuesday.org.uk
Full list of launch organisations:
- British Retail Consortium
- Marks & Spencer
- The Crown Estate