Mother, 53, slams Sainsbury's fuel station for only opening at night
6th October 2021

Single mother, 53, slams Sainsbury’s fuel station for only opening at night in bid to ease traffic – accusing them of ‘discriminating against women’ who feel ‘vulnerable’ in wake of Sarah Everard murder

  • Deborah Sampson, 53, said she feels ‘abandoned’ by a Sainsbury’s forecourt
  • The petrol station in Larksfield, Kent, are open from 10pm to 6am to ease traffic
  • The temporary change in opening hours comes amid a nationwide fuel shortage
  • Ms Sampson said women who feel unsafe will be left unable to get hold of petrol

A mother has criticised a Sainsbury’s fuel station for only opening overnight in a bid to ease traffic, accusing them of ‘discriminating’ against women who feel vulnerable in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder.

Deborah Sampson, 53, claimed she was turned away from a forecourt in Larksfield, Kent, because the opening hours had been changed from 10pm to 6am to ease congestion amid a fuel shortage, which has seen drivers queue for hours for petrol.

The single mother, who cares for her mother full-time, said she feels that she has been ‘let down’ by the supermarket giant, claiming she feels ‘discriminated’ against as a woman.

Ms Sampson claimed the overnight opening hours mean single parents or women who may not feel safe going out late at night will be unable to get hold of fuel.

She told The Sun: ‘I just feel that it is discriminating me as a single parent, a mother, a woman in the current climate where women don’t feel safe.

Deborah Sampson, 53, was turned away from a Sainsbury’s forecourt in Larksfield (pictured), Kent, because the opening hours had been changed from 10pm to 6am to ease traffic

The single mother said she feels that she has been ‘let down’ and ‘discriminated’ against as a woman. Pictured: Motorists queue to fill their cars at a Sainsbury’s fuel station in Ashford, Kent

‘They expect me to go out, leave my child at home, in the dark at night to just be able to purchase some petrol.’

Ms Sampson, who is a carer for people with learning disabilities, claimed Sainsbury’s Twitter account insisted the opening hours had not been changed and said she decided to contact the store herself to raise her concerns.

She claimed the manager of the petrol station said it was his decision to change the opening hours due to ‘footfall in the store’ and alleged she was ‘rude’ and ‘put the phone down’ on her.

She said the manager told her they were not the only forecourt making changes to operating times, but she said she feels ‘abandoned’ by the Sainsbury’s petrol station.

She added: ‘With the way everything is, and how women are feeling after what happened to Sarah Everard, we all feel more vulnerable.

‘I think they had a lack of empathy, and they should be wanting to support their customers and women should be protected.’ 

The reported decision to change opening hours was made amid a fuel shortage, which has seen drivers queue for hours for petrol. Pictured: A closed Sainsbury’s petrol station in London

Ms Sampson claimed the overnight hours mean women who may not feel safe at night will be unable to get fuel. Pictured: Motorists queue at a Sainsbury’s fuel station in Ashford, Kent

Ms Sampson said she understands the need to change opening hours, but suggested keeping a few days in the week with ‘sociable hours’, claiming the current hours only cater for men and van drivers.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: ‘The opening hours at our Larkfield petrol filling station have temporarily changed to ease traffic in the area.

‘All our sites are receiving more fuel and we’ll move be back to our usual opening hours soon.

‘We’re sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.’

It comes amid a brewing national row over women’s safety, with thousands sharing their experiences of feeling unsafe on streets, parks and other public areas in Britain.

The issue of violence against women has been thrust into the limelight in the wake of the high-profile, violent attacks on Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa by men. 

Sarah Everard, 33, was abducted, raped and murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens while she was walking home in Clapham, south-west London, on March 3.

Her body was found a week later in woodland near Ashford, Kent, just yards from land owned by Couzens, 48. The disgraced officer was given a life sentence at the Old Bailey. 

Primary school teacher Sabina Nessa, 28, was killed as she walked through Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south-east London, on her way to meet a friend on September 17.

It comes amid a nationwide row over women’s safety after Sarah Everard, 33, murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens while she was walking home in Clapham, London, on March 3

In August, a survey of 2,000 men and women revealed half of British women said they still felt unsafe on the streets in the wake of the Sarah Everard tragedy. 

The nationwide poll suggested as many as 48 per cent of women did not feel safe, despite 77 per cent of both men and women agreeing the tragedy was a defining moment in terms of the conversation around women and safety.

And 37 per cent of the men surveyed said, since the tragedy, they have thought about or researched ways to make women feel safer on the streets.

But 48 per cent of women said they felt nervous about someone walking behind them, 29 per cent were worried about someone driving slowly past them, and more than a quarter received unwanted male attention from a stranger.

As many as 23 per cent have felt frightened while at home alone and 21 per cent have felt threatened while walking outside at night.

The research by Grazia Magazine was carried out in partnership with GoFundMe, who have created a centralised hub for those who want to help charities working to end male violence. 

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