Laura is a mum on a mission. She’s noticed a big gap in the market, and is campaigning for supermarkets to start stocking nappies in larger sizes. Here she tells her story.
“Nothing worth having comes easy.”
My life (well, house) is full of quotes. So much so, my best friend jokes with me about it. Still, on the days I feel like I’m fighting a lost cause, this one drives me.
Around a month ago, I started a change.org petition asking leading UK supermarkets to consider manufacturing or selling larger sized nappies, for incontinent children with additional support needs.
There are thousands of children in the UK, older than “typical” children, who are not potty trained. Naturally, as a result they require bigger nappies. Are they easy to find? Of course not!
My son Brody
Brody has Global Development Delay, epilepsy, hypotonia and hypermobility. In our special world, he is known to a large community as a SWAN – not yet diagnosed with a syndrome to explain his disabilities. Brody is a tall four-year-old. He wears the largest nappies available in supermarkets (– 6+), but they are fast becoming too small for him. Frustration with this led to my campaign.
Whenever my campaign is posted somewhere on social media, I get people commenting with recurring suggestions: the continence service, pull ups and cloth nappies. Let me explain why, despite this service and these products, I strongly believe there is a huge gap in the market for bigger nappies in stores.
What’s currently available
Brody has recently been referred to the continence service and hopefully, after a waiting time (my friend has been waiting six months so far) we will receive a set amount of nappies per day. These will arrive in bulk. The continence service is great and very much needed for families like ours. However, the service itself is inconsistent, varying greatly depending on where you live in the UK. This becomes more apparent, the more I speak to others. For example, I’ve heard from families who have children with autism who aren’t entitled, families who are only allowed two nappies a day, and families who aren’t eligible for the service until their children are six to eight years old. One woman told me her child has severe chronic constipation, requiring medication and at least 10 nappies daily. But she’s not yet entitled to any help from the NHS.
Pull Ups, which come in slightly larger sizes, are designed for children in the process of potty training. Hence there are fewer nappies in a pack and the absorbency isn’t as good. They’re not adequate for a child who is doubly incontinent. Not only this, it would cost a small fortune for parents to buy Pull Ups, as one pack may last only a day or two.
Cloth nappies may suit some children with additional support needs, and there are some fantastic companies where parents can buy these online. However, this isn’t a best fit solution for every parent and child for many reasons (although, I’ve found a lot of cloth nappy fans will argue this point).
Life costs more when you’re disabled
The simple truth is thousands of parents require larger nappies because their children are either ineligible for the continence service, or require more nappies than they receive. As such, they are forced to buy online because they have no other choice. These nappies come with the classic ‘special needs’ price tag – overpriced! The sad reality is – life costs more when you’re disabled.
Online shopping can also be inconvenient because you have to wait for an order to be delivered. Not as simple as popping to your local supermarket when you’ve run out of a product.
Disabled consumers are a big market
If you are in my shoes, you’ll be all too aware that people don’t think about these things unless it affects them. However, it really shouldn’t be this hard. The Extra Costs Commission report noted that there are over 12 million disabled people in the UK – that is almost 1 in 5 of the population – and our households’ expenditure, the so-called ‘purple pound’, totals £212 billion a year. That’s a lot of money. And high street businesses could take advantage of it.
I strongly agree with Scope that by sharing information about our needs and expectations as shoppers, and by being more demanding as consumers, companies will have the market data to serve us better. We need to shout loud and let our voices be heard!
We are a community, used to fighting battles. Please fight this one with me. Sign the petition and share it with your friends. Maybe together we can make a difference – one that would benefit many families.
My message to the supermarkets?
You have the opportunity to take the lead and cater to a huge consumer group – one that is often disregarded. Please listen. This is about supply, demand and inclusion. It’s simple – there is a demand for this product and you can provide it. Just take M&S as a wonderful example. Grandmother, Rita Kutt wrote to them and explained the need for larger sized clothes with popper buttons for disabled children. They listened! We are consumers – like everyone else – that should be heard.
What do you think? Could you benefit from being able to buy this product in a supermarket near you?
The Extra Costs Commission has called for disabled consumers to be ‘bold and loud’ just like Laura.