M&S, Lidl, Aldi, Danone and Coca-Cola European Partners create fund to support community organisations helping those most at risk during coronavirus crisis and urge other businesses to join them

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M&S, Lidl, Aldi, Danone and Coca-Cola European Partners have partnered with Neighbourly to create the Neighbourly Community Fund, funnelling vital funds directly to community causes across the UK to ensure they can deliver essential services to those most at risk during the coronavirus crisis. 

The partners have already committed a combined total of almost £500,000 to the Fund, to provide immediate micro-grants to community organisations that are helping the people most affected by the outbreak, including the elderly, those on low incomes and people at risk of food insecurity.

Alongside Neighbourly they are calling on other businesses to join them and contribute to the fund to build a coordinated response.

Many small charities and community groups face severe disruption to their services as a result of Covid-19, following a reduction in the number of volunteers and donations.

The unrestricted grants will initially go to existing Neighbourly members across the UK and Ireland, including foodbanks, homeless shelters, care homes, youth groups and health charities. Some charities need urgent support to carry on running their core services, while others are adapting and starting new services to support people in the community. 

Community causes supported through the fund include The Moorlands Community Charity, which provides Meals on Wheels services for older people near Hull.

Jacky Crawford, head of service at The Moorlands Community Charity, said:

“The need for our services will increase over the coming weeks as many older people self-isolate, but without urgent help to get hold of more supplies, we just won’t be able to sustain our support.”

The immediate micro grants of up to £400 will go towards food provision, emergency supplies, practical support, running costs, transport and other essentials. By co-ordinating the emergency response, Neighbourly will be able to assess where the most urgent gaps in support are, and where to direct funds to.

The founding corporate partners of the Neighbourly Community Fund are all existing partners of Neighbourly, a platform which helps businesses deliver meaningful community investment into thousands of locations across the UK.

Steve Rowe, CEO of M&S said: “One of the things that makes me most proud to work at M&S is the role we play in our local communities. Not just through the brilliant service our colleagues give to our customers, but through the time and energy they give to helping those most in need. We can’t do this on our own and so we partner with organisations like Neighbourly, a charity which links our stores to local organisations so we can donate surplus food and non-food products to the people who really need it. This fund will help mobilise over 1000 local charities and organisations across the UK to support the most vulnerable members of your community. The whole M&S family is getting involved – including M&S Bank and M&S Energy – so we can keep up the support communities need most as events unfold.”

The launch of the fund follows a new survey of Neighbourly’s front-line charity and community partners, which showed:

  • 77 percent of charities supporting older people expect services to be disrupted, with 75 percent of organisations who support young people fearing the same
  • More than 60 percent of charities have already seen a reduction in food surplus donations from businesses in recent weeks. 
  • 75 percent of organisations expect to provide emergency provision after schools close

Christian Härtnagel, CEO at Lidl GB, commented: “We are living in unprecedented times, and it’s essential that we look after those who need it most – that’s why our ‘Feed it Back’ scheme with Neighbourly is more important than ever. Through our store connections, and through this additional donation, we are able to directly support groups who are out in our communities doing an exceptional job of looking after the most vulnerable.”

Fritz Walleczek, managing director of corporate responsibility at Aldi, said:

“Neighbourly make a huge difference in the communities they support, making sure surplus food and other donations get to those who need it most. That’s why, as a long-term partner, we’re committed to helping them throughout the year. Today’s additional support is critical in ensuring Neighbourly has the support they need to continue making a positive difference to the most vulnerable in our society during this particularly difficult time.”

Steve Butterworth, CEO of Neighbourly, said: “Now more than ever, communities need to come together and support each other. That’s why we’ve created a new Covid-19 Community Support Fund, to help our business partners channel funds into helping the most vulnerable groups, including elderly people and families that will need extra support over the coming months. What is needed by community groups and charities today will be very different over the weeks and months to come. Through the Neighbourly nationwide network of good causes we will work closely with our partners to ensure the right support is directed to those places in most urgent need.”

Neighbourly’s network of charity partners estimate that with the additional pressures created by coronavirus, they expect to support an average of almost 180 people each week with emergency provision such as food and basic essentials. 

According to government statistics, 3 million children are at risk of going hungry while they are out of school; 1 million children who receive free school meals during term time, and another 2 million children who are ineligible for free school meals but are growing up in households in in-work poverty.

James Pearson, managing director of Danone UK & Ireland, said:  “Working closely with communities has always been important to Danone and forms a core part of our ‘One Planet. One Health’ vision. We are committed to supporting our local communities and are proud to be a founding member of the Neighbourly Community Fund to help organisations on the front line in this time of uncertainty.”

Leendert Den Hollander, vice president and general manager at Coca-Cola European Partners, said: “There is nothing more important than communities at a time like this, and we fully support the excellent work Neighbourly is doing to ensure those of us most at risk are equipped with essential supplies and services through this difficult period.” 

For more information about the Neighbourly Community Fund, visit: https://www.neighbourly.com/NeighbourlyCommunityFund