John Lewis, M&S Co-op donate to charities to assist during coronavirus crisis

John Lewis, M&S Co-op donate to charities to assist during coronavirus crisis
German discounters Aldi and Lidl also announced partnership schemes with Neighbourly earlier this week.
// The Co-op to donate £1.5 million of food to FareShare charity that tackles hunger
// John Lewis Partnership donates £75,000 each for Age UK, FareShare & the Trussell Trust
// M&S donates £100,000 to Neighbourly, and £100,000 to the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal

Some of the biggest retailers in the UK have unveiled new donations and partnerships with leading charities that will assist the vulnerable during the coronavirus crisis.

The Co-op announced it would donate £1.5 million of food to a charity that tackles hunger, and John Lewis Partnership has donated £75,000 each for leading charities.

Meanwhile, M&S has made an immediate £100,000 investment in the Neighbourly Community Fund to support hundreds of local organisations, from food banks to youth clubs, as well as an additional £100,000 to the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal.


The news comes after German discounters Aldi and Lidl announced partnership schemes with Neighbourly earlier this week.

The Co-op said its donation consists of essential food products that will be given from next week to FareShare, which supports more than 11,000 charities and community groups, including food banks.

Products will be split between FareShare’s 23 regional centres, and then supplied to a network of local community groups across the country.

Food banks have seen a significant drop in donations as the coronavirus takes hold, but they remain a lifeline for those who rely on donations to feed their families.

Demand is set to grow as the number of people who unexpectedly find themselves out of work increases.

“The Co-op has a critical role to play in supporting our members, customers and colleagues, as well as the local communities that our stores sit at the heart of,” Co-op Food chief executive Jo Whitfield said.

“Food banks have never been more important, so it makes sense that we provide support to help FareShare keep people fed and watered during this unprecedented time.

“It’s a great example of us all co-operating and pulling together to help those most in need and I would ask everybody if they can to contribute to a food bank near to them.

“Every tin, jar or carton makes a difference.”

FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said: “At this time of huge uncertainty, we all need to pull together to help those most vulnerable and most affected by the issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The very generous support of £1.5 million worth of food from the Co-op will enable the FareShare network to maintain a continued vital food supply line into our charities over a prolonged period of 10 weeks.”

Meanwhile, the John Lewis Partnership said an initial donation of £75,000 will given to each charity it has partnered with – including Age UK, FareShare and the Trussell Trust.

Funding will be used immediately in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, providing help to those in local communities who are self-isolating or facing food insecurity.

The John Lewis Partnership said they would support the charities over the coming months as the crisis is set to intensify.

“The John Lewis Partnership is committed to supporting those most in need in our local communities,” the firm’s social impact manager Caroline Silke said.

“Increasing our support of these vital charities, so they can shore up their operations and plan for the uncertainty of the next few months, is critical.”

Earlier this week, the parent company of John Lewis and Waitrose launched a £1 million community support fund to create additional delivery services, as well as delivering essential items to care homes and community groups and donating products to vulnerable people.

Age UK fundraising director Laurie Boult said: “This is a period of great anxiety for everyone, but especially for older people and their loved ones.

“Age UK is determined to be there for older people who need our help and especially for those who have no one else to turn to in this time of crisis.”

Waitrose already donates surplus food to charities at the end of each working day through FareShare’s redistribution app, while the retailer has Trussell Trust donation points in 147 stores.

Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie said: “The coronavirus pandemic poses an unprecedented challenge and as it progresses, more people than ever may need help from food banks across our network.

“We know that together we can better support communities across the UK so we are truly grateful for this vital support.

“Please look at our website to find out more about food banks and coronavirus.”

Over at M&S, the whole company – encompassing its retail arm as well as its bank and energy divisions – has kickstarted the Neighbourly Community Fund with an immediate investment of £100,000.

The fund aims to help the Neighbourly charity distribute in phases to its existing network of hundreds of charities and community groups across the UK.

M&S customers can support by selecting the Neighbourly Community Fund as their charity on the Sparks loyalty programme.

In addition to this, M&S stores will continue to redistribute all surplus food or flowers to the Neighbourly network.

“Community organisations are coming under immense pressure and need support now more than ever,” Neighbourly chief operating officer Zoe Colosimo said.

“Immediate funding can help give immediate peace of mind that they can take urgent action to support the most vulnerable in our society.

“We know needs will evolve as we move through this crisis – from loneliness to hunger to financial concern, but we’re all in this together and we must keep working together.”

M&S group chief executive Steve Rowe said: “This fund will help mobilise over 1000 local charities and organisations across the UK to support the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Alongside this local activation, at a national level, M&S said it would donate £100,000 to the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal and customers can get involved by selecting this as their Sparks charity.

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