HEARTWARMING pictures show the smiles of a six-year-old boy with autism as kind Sainsbury’s staff grant his wish of working behind a checkout.
Jasper Whitworth dreams of working for Sainsbury’s and when his mum asked for a spare uniform, staff at their local supermarket decided to invite the youngster behind the scenes.
The supermarket in Newhaven, East Sussex, even presented the youngster, who has autism and epilepsy as well as other medical conditions, with a specially made uniform.
His mum, Clare Whitworth said: “Jasper is always really excited to visit our local Sainsbury’s and he’s always dreamed of working there one day.
“In fact, because of his autism, he sometimes believes he does work there!
“We always stop to chat to the store colleagues, and often they’ll come out from behind the counters and let Jasper try on their hats or badges which he really loves.
“I contacted Sainsbury’s on the off-chance they’d have a spare uniform which we could give to Jasper, and so I was thrilled when they offered to produce a tailor-made uniform for him.
“It may seem like a small thing to many people, but this present has really put a smile on Jasper’s face, and I know he’s going to love wearing it.”
Jason Howell, Store Manager at Sainsbury’s Newhaven Harbour, said: “Jasper and Clare are regular customers and we’re always thrilled to see them when they’re shopping in our store.
“I’m so proud of our colleagues who always go out of their way to help Jasper, Clare and all of our customers. It’s great when we can put a smile on someone’s face.”
Clare hopes the supermarket’s kindness will help raise awareness about Jasper’s conditions.
She added: “Because Jasper can get quite excited when we go out, it can sometimes be a challenge as not everyone understands that he’s not being naughty – he’s just anxious to please – so it’s lovely that our local Sainsbury’s is so welcoming.”
The supermarket chain is trialling an autism friendly initiative at three stores in Liverpool.
Staff have received specialist training about what can make a supermarket trip stressful for a child with autism and how they can help.
Parents are also able to request changes that will improve their visit, such as tannoys and music being turned off or a priority checkout being opened.
Natalie Dunn, Sainsbury’s Head of Customer Experience, said: “We want all of our customers to have a great shopping experience in our stores.
“There are many aspects of a visit to the supermarket which can be stressful for parents of children with autism, so we are trialling ways in which we can make their lives easier.”