Argos now allows customers with bowel conditions to use staff toilets in 800 stores

Sarah Young

High street retailer Argos has signed up to a scheme with charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK to allow people with bowel conditions to use their staff toilets in 800 stores.

According to the charity, Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and together they affect more than 300,000 people in the UK.

One of the most common symptoms of the bowel conditions is sudden diarrhoea, and the charity states that a major anxiety for people living Crohn’s and Colitis is being refused access to toilets while out in public.

To help make it easier for people with the conditions to find a toilet when they’re out, Argos has joined a list of retailers who now accept Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s Can’t Wait Card.

The card, which is available to members of the charity, makes it easier for people to ask to use toilets in shops, restaurants and other buildings, without having to give a long explanation about their condition.

The card displays a message which reads: “The holder of this card has inflammatory bowel disease and needs to use your toilet facilities urgently”.

Membership costs £1.25 a month or £15 for a year and includes a range of other benefits, including a RADAR key which gives you independent access to over 9,000 locked public toilets around the country.

Young people who are patients aged between 16 to 18 years in the UK are eligible for free membership.

Sharing the news on Twitter, Crohn’s and Colitis UK wrote: “Great news: Retail giant @Argos_Online is recognising invisible diseases such as Crohn’s and Colitis, by allowing members with our Cant Wait Card to access staff toilets in 800 UK stores”.

The announcement has been praised by a number of people on social media with many thanking the retailer for taking “such a positive step”.

“This is fantastic news Argos! Let’s hope other retailers are inspired by your example,” one person wrote on Twitter.

Another added: “Nice one Argos , it’s a small thing that means a lot to anyone with a bowel disease.”

While a third person commented: “This is such a great idea. A positive step that hopefully will be followed by many more stores. For people who suffer from Crohns and Colitis it can be so stressful when out shopping with no in-store toilets.”

An Argos spokesperson tells The Independent: “Argos is a proud supporter of Crohn’s & Colitis UK. Our group vision is to be the most inclusive retailer and we recognise that some customers often need to use a toilet, without delay. Together with our colleagues, we welcome the use of our facilities in store.”

Dan McLean, communications director at Crohn’s & Colitis UK, added: "Argos is actively giving their support to many thousands of people with debilitating and chronic health conditions such as Crohn’s and Colitis; their help along with other national retailers, will reassure people and enable them to shop more confidently. This can reduce the stigma of toilet urgency and help to reduce isolation".

Other companies that accept the cards include:

Retail

  • Argos
  • B&Q
  • Co-op - 240 Midcounties stores
  • M&S
  • Starbucks - Northern Ireland
  • Superdrug
  • Waitrose
  • White Stuff
  • Zara

Travel hubs

  • Birmingham Airport
  • City of London Airport
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Luton Airport
  • Newcastle Airport

The announcement follows the launch of Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s Not Every Disability is Visible campaign, which aimed to raise awareness of people with invisible illnesses using disabled toilets.

A survey issued by the charity found that 93 per cent of people would challenge someone who looks healthy if they saw them using a disabled toilet, while 61 per cent of people with the disease said they had experienced abuse.

What’s more, around two thirds said they had been refused when they asked to jump the toilet queue because their disease isn’t visible.