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Shop workers and their families speak out about abuse in moving Christmas campaign

The film features real people who have put themselves at risk working in essential shops, keeping families fed and providing vital human interaction for so many people who have been alone at home for much of the year.

“I worry about Sammie most days when she goes to work, she had a flare pulled out on her recently, it’s so scary.”

“My dad’s had beer thrown at his face and has been physically assaulted, it’s not okay.”

“My mum is just trying to do her job. I’m worried about her safety.”

These are the testaments from the families of three shop workers who have spoken out about the abuse their loved ones have faced during the pandemic as part of a moving Christmas campaign.

With uncertainty about family gatherings at Christmas after the current lockdown ends, we are going to see huge last-minute shopping sprees and potential tensions spilling over on the high street.

There is a concern that those on our festive frontline could bear the brunt of some shoppers’ frustrations about wearing masks and distancing measures, leading to more abuse and assaults.

Mrs Paleja has been the owner of a small newsagents for the last 32 years with her husband who recently was diagnosed with dementia. She is now a full-time carer whilst also managing the running of her much-loved family business.

In the campaign film, her daughter Mita describes her mother as a superwoman and tells of the abuse she has faced during the pandemic: “My mum is just trying to do her job. She has been threatened with a knife, verbally abused and pushed. She fractured her wrist as a result of that. I’m worried about her safety. Please consider to be kind this Christmas, there is a family behind every business.”

Shop workers across the Thames Valley are going above and beyond for their customers and, just like Mrs Paleja, they may have been mistreated and abused.

Matthew Barber, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, is supporting the ‘Keeping Christmas Kind’ campaign and saying that ‘enough is enough’: 

"No-one should be subjected to abuse or fear of assault, and this year shop workers have been in the frontline. In some ways the pandemic has brought out the best in people, with a renewed community spirit and many people looking out for their vulnerable neighbours. Sadly it has also brought out the worst in some, and this sort of abuse should not be tolerated."

According to retail trade union Usdaw, every minute of the working day during the pandemic a shopworker nationally has been verbally abused, threatened with violence or physically attacked.

By sharing this campaign, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner is helping to raise awareness of the abuse shop workers have faced and encouraging others to show some kindness towards those on the festive frontline this Christmas.

To watch the campaign film, please click on the 'Play' button below: