A DISABLED woman says the town’s supermarkets could do better when it comes to facilities for wheelchair users.
Charlotte Thorpe has carried out a survey of all the main supermarkets in Huddersfield, testing them for wheelchair access, parking and toilet facilities.
Asda rated highly in the survey, but Sainsbury’s at Shore Head came at the bottom.
Charlotte, 39, was injured in a car accident two decades ago and uses a wheelchair to get about easily.
She says she wants to enjoy living life the best way she can, which means regular shopping trips.
Ms Thorpe, of Edgerton, said: “It is important to me that I live an independent life as much as possible.
“It is important for me to inform people with physical disabilities which supermarket best accommodates their needs.
“Yes I have a disability, but I still have a life and I want to help others.”
She visited four stores – Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Marks and Spencer – and looked at how disabled-friendly the stores are.
She said: “Sainsbury’s at Shore Head was the main supermarket that disappointed me.
“Although there were some good points, the bad outweighed the good.
“When it came to finding a disabled trolley I came across difficulties.”
The trolley would not attach to her wheelchair and by the time a member of staff helped, she and her care manager Chrissie Dhurmea had been soaked by heavy rain.
Only the supermarket’s own wheelchairs would fit the trolley, which meant Ms Thorpe had to get out of her own wheelchair and into another.
She was also disappointed with access to the toilets, which are behind a heavy door.
She said: “I feel this supermarket has failed me as a person with needs – my disabilities do not make me useless, all I need is a little extra help.”
Charlotte studies creative writing, art and design at Huddersfield Technical College.
Before her accident she obtained five A grades at A-level and was studying economics at Leicester University.
The accident left her in a wheelchair and suffering with short-term memory loss.
Care manager Chrissie said: “It is important for Charlotte to know where is the best for her to go shopping, but she also wants to help other people too.
“I think it is important for people with physical difficulties to be able to go out on their own or with their carers and feel independent.
“We really hope her survey can help others in her situation.”
Ms Thorpe is going to contact the supermarkets with her feedback.
She is also planning a similar survey looking at pubs and restaurant.
A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said: “Sainsbury’s Shore Head store is one of the busiest stores in the area, which is why in May 2008 the store will begin a refit to significantly improve the facilities at the store for all our customers, including those who use a wheelchair.
“We are pleased that Ms Thorpe is happy with the wheelchair parking bays and we have taken on board her suggested improvements for the store.”