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Mental Health Champion calls for more support and respect for retail sector during pandemic.

Interim Mental Health Champion, Professor Siobhan O’Neill has committed to do everything she can to help retail staff, who are themselves providing a frontline service to the public, during the current restrictions, and recent Government announcements for the next four weeks.  Following discussions with Retail NI, Chief executive, Glyn Roberts, Siobhan has committed to working with the sector on raising awareness of the need to respect everyone in retail who is providing a service right now, during this challenging time for everyone in the sector, and has encouraged the public to play their part by wearing a mask, using sanitiser, respecting retail guidelines and simply saying ‘thank you’.

Statistics from Retail NI show that increasing numbers of retail workers have said they are struggling to do their job properly right now with double the amount of verbal and physical abuse. Currently retail is essential for everyone, and an important local provider, and employer.  Siobhan is appealing to the general public to ensure they respect retail, shop in as safe a way as possible and adhere to current restrictions which are in place for all our benefits.

Commenting on the challenges, the Mental Health Champion said;

“There is no doubt that this is a difficult time for everyone right now, and all of our frontline workers are under pressure.  Retail workers are a key part of our human frontline right now too, and they are keeping shops open, shelves stocked and helping people us all get what we need safely, and it’s important that we recognise that this is a really difficult for the retail industry. 

Often small gestures make the biggest difference, so a smile behind a mask, or just a thank you can go a long way to saying we appreciate you are doing all you can to help us today.  Today I am joining with Retail NI to simply say ‘thank you’ we appreciate your help, and to encourage the public to do the same, its easy and in the current climate a positive message goes such a long way for all of us.”

Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of Retail NI, added;

“With increased levels of verbal and physical abuse from some shoppers and the other pressures that come with this pandemic, the mental health of our members and their staff is a top priority for Retail NI. Retail workers are there to support our community by ensuring food and other vital products are widely available and so we would urge people to be considerate and respectful to staff when out shopping”

“Retail NI wants to the see improved levels of mental health and wellbeing as key economic indicators for our wider economy and we look forward to working with the Mental Health Champion to achieve this”