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Romford worker speaks out in support of national ShopKind campaign

A Romford store manager wants stronger sanctions against those who abuse staff 

A retail worker from Romford is taking part in a new national campaign urging people to ShopKind. 

More than 100 major high street names, such as Greggs and Boots, are encouraging shoppers to treat workers with respect, kindness and gratitude. 

It is after new research revealed 65 per cent of shop workers have experienced Covid-related threats since the pandemic began and at least 400 workers are abused every day. 

The Association of Convenience Stores’ 2021 Crime Report also shows there have been 40,000 incidents of violence against retail workers in the last year, with more than a quarter of them involving a weapon such as a knife, hammer, axe, or syringe. 

Claire Saunders is the store manager of a Co-op in Romford and said the last year has been particularly bad for workers. 

“At the beginning, when I was threatened to be spat at and given coronavirus, it just shook me up because you don’t expect someone to tell you that,” said Claire.

“I’ve been called every name under the sun for asking people to queue up outside, for asking them to social distance and colleagues of mine have constantly been abused.

“What really upset me the most was seeing a customer literally push over an elderly customer to get a loaf of bread. We are all in the same situation but this old gentleman can barely walk and you have forcibly pushed into him to get what you want.” 

Claire explained the measures have been put in place for everyone’s safety and that after the last year most people should be aware of them. 

She said it is very frustrating to still be constantly getting abuse just for doing her job. 

“It’s hard for all of us to get motivated to go to work, especially when you’ve been coming in day in day out, putting yourself at risk and also ultimately your family at risk, especially during the pandemic, to then face verbal abuse and sadly physical abuse as well is mentally draining,” added Claire. 

She hopes ShopKind will become an ongoing campaign and tougher penalities will be introduced for people who do abuse and physically assault shop workers. 

“I think sometimes shoplifters have it in their mind that ‘well nothing is going to happen to us’ so if they know that there is tough sentences and penalties then hopefully it will make them think twice,” said Claire. 

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM

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