Neighbourly and supermarket partners highlight importance of think national, act local to get food to people who need it most

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Neighbourly and leading retailers including M&S, Lidl and Aldi are leveraging their existing local grass roots charity networks to get more support to redistribute food to people in need as quickly as possible.

As more and more people need urgent access to food and household items, local charities and groups who are already part of the fabric of our communities are best placed to use their intimate local knowledge to react and respond quickly to what’s needed, and maintain an on-going service in the future.

In providing additional and immediate support to the local charities, the community giving platform Neighbourly and its retail partners are encouraging other community organisations to join the programme to access items for redistribution in their locality. Existing charity partners also have access to funds via the Neighbourly Community Fund, which has been successfully disbursing micro-grants to support them.

Steve Butterworth, CEO of Neighbourly, said: “The needs of every community are different, which is why we have always focused on helping national businesses deliver support at a hyper-local level in partnership with grassroots causes. We have delivered over 25 million meals to over 5,000 local organisations in recent years and as we face today’s extraordinary circumstances, now is the time to help those organisations who are already in place – and who know people in their community on a named basis – to act rapidly. 

“There has been a fantastic response to provide help from all sectors and a new sense of community spirit that we want to continue. If this is channelled into local networks and organisations who are already on the ground, then not only can we meet the increased demand now but we can also ensure that support continues for vulnerable people as the pandemic reduces.”

Neighbourly is also helping to connect NHS Foundations and local councils to relief efforts to access surplus donations. With job losses, children losing access to school meals and elderly people trapped at home, each of Neighbourly’s charity partners have reported they expect to support an average of over 200 people each week with emergency provision such as food and basic essentials.

As well as making additional food supplies available, Neighbourly and its corporate partners recently created a Community Fund, to channel immediate micro-grants to community organisations that are helping the people most affected by the outbreak. M&S, Lidl, Aldi, Danone and Coca-Cola European Partners committed a combined total of £500,000 to the Fund, with grants already reaching existing Neighbourly members across the UK and Ireland, including foodbanks, homeless shelters, care homes, youth groups and health charities.

Fritz Walleczek, managing director of corporate responsibility at Aldi, added: “Supporting those in need is more important than ever and we would encourage any charity that is struggling during this difficult time to sign up to Neighbourly’s platform. As a long-term partner of Neighbourly we are committed to helping them make a difference to as many communities as possible through donations from our stores every single day.”

Steve Rowe, CEO of M&S, commented: “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 who link our stores to local causes so we can donate surplus food and non-food products to the people who really need it.”

In the UK, an estimated 14 million people, one fifth of the nation’s population, face situations where putting food on the table can be incredibly difficult. Government data shows that 3 million children are at risk of going hungry while they are out of school. New figures released last week show that nearly a million people applied for universal credit in the previous fortnight, a surge in welfare support that highlights the depth of the income crisis.

Among the existing groups supported through Neighbourly’s platform are:

  • St. John’s CE Primary School in Blackburn. Tracey Parker, its Headteacher, said: “Aldi’s food donations on a Monday and a Friday have proved to be vital resources for many of our families. I can’t stress enough how much they have helped our school community.”
  • Rossendales Food bank in Lancashire, which regularly receives donations of food and flowers from M&S. Caroline Collins, a Community Organiser at the food bank, said: “When people are really struggling to get the very basics, the added touch of receiving flowers with their food parcel has an amazing effect.”
  • The Kitchen@Canolfan y Bont, in Swansea, which has been able to feed countless families following donations from Lidl

To sign up to receive food surplus, charities and not-for-profits need to register with Neighbourly at www.neighbourly.com/food-charities or email food@neighbourly.com. Groups must have a food hygiene certificate in order to collect the surplus.