Tesco stores recognise ‘invisible’ illnesses

Tesco stores recognise ‘invisible’ illnesses

Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer, who employ almost 500,000 people around the world, have placed new signs on disabled toilets in their stores to recognise ‘invisible’ illnesses. In this article, Catia Fernandes – Compliance Manager at Tesco, shares her experience.

Living with an invisible disability

I was just about to take my GCSEs when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I had never heard of it before and neither had my friends and family. I tried to go about my daily life as usual but it soon became apparent everything was going to change. The sudden need to go to the toilet is a recognised symptom of Crohn’s. It meant that everyday things I took for granted, such as exercising and eating, became a lot more challenging. I’ve had to adapt to be able to manage my condition but this doesn’t mean I can’t lead a normal life.

Photo : The awesome ‘Not every disability is visible’ sign | Credit : Tesco

“I’ve had to adapt to be able to manage my condition but this doesn’t mean I can’t lead a normal life.”

Understanding colleagues

My career is very important to me. I joined Tesco in 2002 and have recently been promoted to Compliance Manager in our Caterham superstore. I ensure the store is safe both for our customers and our colleagues. My illness means I sometimes have to change my working hours to fit around hospital appointments. I’m very grateful for the support and understanding of my colleagues at Tesco.

Changing signage

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

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

Nobody is more influential when it comes to communicating your company’s brand and workplace culture, than the employees themselves. If you’d like to share your workplace, employee and community engagement and network group news and updates with our readers, then we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us here!

About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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