group photo in Sainsburys, Truro

Tigger Pritchard, Vice Chair of our charity’s Cornwall branch, is doing an incredible job raising autism awareness across England’s South West corner. 

Today he blogs about this year’s Autism Hour and the importance of creating a comfortable environment for autistic shoppers. 

Despite a disappointing start to the week, Autism Hour in Cornwall ended up being a great success and was enjoyed by autistic and non-autistic people alike. This was thanks to Tigger, local customer Nicola, and several Sainsburys staff members.


While the rest of the country was enjoying Autism Hour last October, down here in the wonderful County of Cornwall, a local family headed to Sainsburys Truro, looking forward to a more relaxed shopping trip. 

But….no reduced light, tills beeping everywhere, distribution trolleys noisily clattering across the store, music playing and the tannoy blaring out instructions. What happened to the quiet hour?

They forgot, simple as that. A genuine mistake, but one that placed numerous families and individuals under unnecessary stress and anxiety. An expectation had not been met. 

The local press was informed, Sainsburys apologised and promised to do better next time. The story came to my notice and I saw that the parent of the local family, Nicola, was not only a local branch member, but also an old student of mine! She and I discussed what happened and a plan was formulated.

When I approached Sainsburys, they were very understanding and aware of the error they had made. We discussed a possible very positive outcome from this event: one where Sainsburys could really make a difference.

With the help of the Customer Experience manager, Sam, and others at the store, Sainsburys are now running a relaxed shopping event every Monday between 5pm and 7pm. This will continue for the next three months. The hope is, the more people that shop during this quiet time, the more likely it will continue as a regular event! This and more activities are planned, so watch this space!

The relaxed shopping time at Sainsburys in Truro has now successfully been running for several weeks. Many individuals who shop there regularly have noticed and commented upon how different and more relaxed the shopping experience is for all. Thank you, Sainsbury Truro, and Nicola. Let’s hope this is just the start!

Tigger Pritchard

Vice Chair NAS Cornwall Branch