“It was mayhem” – Supermarket worker Christine on keeping the nation fed

Christine O’Neill, supermarket worker in London 

It’s been anything but business as usual for the supermarket staff across the country working flat out to meet surging demand during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Christine O’Neill (49), who has worked at a large London supermarket for three years, said a combination of fast-changing new safety measures, stressed-out customers and huge demand was putting significant pressure on the workers. 

She described the period in March when people began stockpiling food as ‘mayhem’. 

“There was panic buying like I’ve never seen in my life. People came in with three trollies and filled them to the brim. We were open 24 hours and it went on all night.” 

Since concerns about food shortages have abated, things have been calmer in the store. However, implementing social distancing measures has also been a challenge. 

“Some people think they don’t need to comply with the government rules any more. When cashiers ask them to stand back (to maintain the 2 metre rule), customers become hostile towards them.”

As Checkout Team Support, Christine then steps in to help resolve the situation. Despite the daily pressure, Christie said many people have a new respect for the supermarket key workers helping to keep the country fed. 

“We also get a lot of people saying you’re doing a good job, keep it up and that keeps our spirits high. More than ever, we’re working as a team.”

Having had to cancel her holiday to Spain this summer, Christine is looking forward to the day when she can have a family holiday again. “I’ve been missing my four year granddaughter desperately, so it will be wonderful for us to have some time away together as a family.” 

If you'd like to help key workers like Christine have a well earned break, please donate to our Give Them a Break fund.


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