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

30 November 2020

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 titled #KeepingChristmasKind.

Enzo Riglia, Business Crime lead for Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane, said: “With the current lockdown ending and just a few weeks left until Christmas, we are likely to see last-minute shopping sprees, and 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.

”This is not acceptable at any time of the year, but as we come to the end of what has been a truly challenging year for all of us we want to help raise awareness of the abuse shop workers have faced and encourage others to show some kindness towards those on the festive frontline this Christmas.”

The campaign film features Mrs Paleja, who 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 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.”

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.