The Government and Sainsbury’s are to team up and locate Britain’s hidden carers.
The new government-backed scheme is currently being introduced to Sainsbury’s stores. Under it staff will be trained to identify the UK’s carers of the disabled and elderly. This will be achieved by examining the contents of a customer’s shopping basket. Also, staff will learn how to identify these individuals through the use of specific questions about their personal circumstances.
Key signs could include shoppers paying for different groceries with separate receipts, or picking up a prescription on behalf of someone else.
Customers who have been identified as carers will then be directed to a nearby charity stand, where they can learn about the financial and practical help available, while receiving support and advice for what they do. According to the Department of Health, the scheme will make more unpaid carers aware of the financial and supportive services which are entitled to them.
The scheme is to be moved around various stores in the country, rather than being active in all of them.
The scheme has been met with opposition, critics have accused the plans of amounting to little more than basic spying. Many welcome their good intentions in this case, but believe in the use of more discrete measures, such as leaflets and posters. Daniel Hamilton of Big Brother Watch, said:
“It strikes me as something that will make a lot of people uncomfortable. They are trying to do the right thing but they have to be careful about how they do it.”
Discrete and unobtrusive
Sainsbury’s has insisted the scheme would be carefully managed. A spokesman claimed that questioning would be undertaken with an ‘absolutely discrete and unobtrusive manner’. A pilot scheme was run in Torbay, Devon. In 2 months, 140 people had moved on to seek further support.