// John Lewis Partnership launches £1m support fund for local communities amid coronavirus crisis
// Partnership also setting up a support fund to aid staff facing additional costs as a result of the pandemic
// Protected shopping hour for the elderly and vulnerable also introduced, along with rationing
John Lewis Partnership has announced new measures to help its shops meet the needs of customers during the coronavirus crisis, with a focus on the elderly and the vulnerable.
These include a £1 million Community Support Fund to be distributed by Waitrose shops to local communities, and a support fund to aid staff facing additional costs as a result of the pandemic.
The partnership is also implementing protected shopping time for the elderly and the vulnerable across its Waitrose stores, rationing for all customers, and enlisting the help of 2100 John Lewis staff to work in Waitrose stores.
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“At this time of national crisis, the John Lewis Partnership is wholeheartedly committed to ensuring we support customers and in particular the elderly and most vulnerable,” chair Dame Sharon White said.
“Our commitment to contribute to the wellbeing of the communities we operate in has always been at the heart of our business.
“Partners have been outstanding, supporting each other and responding to the huge surge in demand at Waitrose.
“More than 2100 John Lewis partners are helping in Waitrose shops this month and supporting deliveries; I am truly grateful to everyone.”
John Lewis Partnership’s new £1 million Community Support Fund will be available to communities across the UK to help those in need in their local communities.
Teams in each shop will work together with their communities to choose the best way to use the fund.
The partnership said help could include setting up additional local delivery services to support the self-isolating, the vulnerable, the elderly and their carers, or delivering boxes of staples to local care homes and community groups, and donating products to create care packages for customers to share with vulnerable neighbours.
In addition, to assist staff who are working long hours to meet the needs of customers, the partnership said it would set up a support fund to aid colleagues who are facing additional costs as a result of the pandemic – such as childcare costs.
Staff will also be offered free meals at work during the crisis.
Meanwhile, from tomorrow, the elderly, the vulnerable and those who look after them will be able to take advantage of a prioritised and dedicated shopping hour at Waitrose stores.
Partnership confirmed that the dedicated hour will be the first opening hour of the shop.
Waitrose is also working on a way to support its vulnerable customers who need food delivered to them via online shopping.
On the other hand, all Waitrose Cafes and rotisseries have been temporarily closed so as to free up extra hours for staff to keep shelves stocked with food and essential items.
Some Waitrose stores will also close early to give staff time to restock the shelves.
The upmarket grocer added that it would enforce a rationing system. In addition to existing limits on some online items, there will be a limit of three for any specific grocery item, and a maximum of two packets of toilet roll per customer buying in shops.
Over at John Lewis, the department store is exploring ways to offer its services remotely to customers in their homes, such as online courses or expert advice from staff.
This could include nursery advice for expectant parents, wellbeing advice, craft and cookery classes, or one-to-one calls.