Neighbourly today confirms that Lidl GB is donating over 80,000 face coverings to small charities and community groups around the UK to help protect frontline charity workers and the people they support from COVID-19.
The donation comes in response to Neighbourly and the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) highlighting the ongoing need for front-line charity workers to have adequate protection, despite encouraging COVID-19 figures being reported. A year since the first national lockdown was introduced, many small charities and local causes are needing to stretch seriously limited resources to buy additional PPE so they can continue providing essential support.
In a recent survey of over 600 frontline workers across Neighbourly’s network of good causes, including food banks, elderly care groups and youth centres, over 87% said they need PPE including face coverings to help protect staff and volunteers. With local causes working tirelessly as demand for services remains high, it is essential that charity workers, volunteers, and the people they support are kept safe during this period of transition out of lockdown. IFAN figures show a 110% rise in need for emergency food parcels from February to November 2020 compared with the same months last year, with food bank use expected to increase even further into 2021.
Boxes of face coverings are being distributed immediately by Lidl stores to over 800 good causes partnered with them for food surplus donations through Neighbourly, the supermarket’s community investment and engagement partner.
Martina Petrovic, head of communications and CSR at Lidl GB, said: “We are so grateful to the charity staff and volunteers who continue to work extremely hard to provide life-saving support to people across our communities – but they still all need adequate protection from COVID-19. While the steady reductions in infection rates are encouraging, it’s vital that all frontline workers have the face coverings they still urgently need, to minimise the risks to both them and the people they support.”
Steve Butterworth, CEO of Neighbourly, said: “Charities and hyper-local causes in our network have already responded to a 106% increase in demand for their services since the start of the pandemic, and the support of our business partners has been critical in enabling community causes to carry out essential work. Lidl’s donations will ensure that groups providing community support can focus their limited funds on frontline delivery while helping staff and service users to interact safely. Hyper-local causes are fundamental to the survival of our most vulnerable communities – together we must ensure they have the resources and support they need.”
Sabine Goodwin, Coordinator at the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), added: “Volunteers and food charity staff are working tirelessly to provide emergency support to people going hungry across the UK. But their work presents significant challenges and risks, even with the reduction in infection rates. We must ensure that food aid workers and the people they support have the necessary protection, so that critical food provision can reach the growing number of people going hungry until such time as the poverty driving the need for charitable food aid is reduced.”
Lidl has been working with Neighbourly since 2017 on its Feed It Back programme, which enables all Lidl stores across England, Scotland and Wales to donate food surplus to local charities tackling food insecurity. Through Neighbourly, Lidl has already donated more than 7 million meals to a wide range of good causes.
Together with Lidl, M&S, Danone, Southern Co-op, Aldi, Coca-Cola European Partners, Heineken and giffgaff, Neighbourly launched its Community Fund at the start of the pandemic, which channelled more than £1.2 million worth of micro-grants to more than 3,000 local causes, who in turn supported more than 1 million people. Building on the principles of the Fund, the Neighbourly Foundation was launched last year, which uses a permanent structure that responds to ongoing local need.