Mental health charity Mind has been forced to devise a breastfeeding policy in its stores after a mother was told her "breast milk stinks" by the manager of its East Dulwich store.
The 32-year-old mother was challenged in the changing room of the Mind store as she breastfed her daughter. Talking to The Daily Mail she said: “I closed the curtain as far as possible, and my baby immediately cried, so I sat down to feed her…This never takes more than a couple of minutes, there was another changing room available, and there was only one other customer in the shop.”
But a few moments later the mother became became aware that she was being watched by the store manager, Steve Symonds who then proclaimed: “The changing rooms are not for breastfeeding." While she continued to feed her daughter Mr Symonds then sprayed deodorant into the changing room advising: “I have to spray because your breast milk stinks."
The woman has subsequently called on the charity to create "a clear policy allowing breast-feeding in changing rooms, and guaranteeing privacy behind curtains" and said she was left feeling "shocked and indignant" by the events.
Spokeswoman for Mind, Julia Lamb, has confirmed to Civil Society that following a thorough investigation, new guidance on breastfeeding is being drafted.
“When this incident happened like many shops we didn't have a policy designed to specifically address breastfeeding in-store,” she said.
“We took this incident very seriously and issued an apology immediately. We launched an investigation straight away into what took place, and into whether additional policies are needed to ensure this doesn't happen again.
“Following the investigation, we will be issuing new guidance to our staff and volunteers that any customer who asks to breastfeed in the shop should be offered the changing room if it's available (our shops are very small and usually only have one), or if it isn't available, that they attempt to accommodate them elsewhere if possible.”
The guidance will also remind staff and volunteers to “respect the privacy of customers who are using the changing rooms”, but that due to incidents of misuse of the facilities in the past, such as drugs use, they will retain the right to challenge members of the public suspected of abusing the facilities "for activities other than trying on clothes and breastfeeding".
Asked whether Mr Symonds had been disciplined, Ms Lamb advised the matter was still under investigation and details of any disciplinary action would not be released.