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Pt 2. Ways to be Neighbourly during the Coronavirus outbreak

27 March 2020
four ways to be neighbourly during the coronavirus outbreak

Here at Neighbourly, we’ve been inspired and amazed to see the incredible efforts from local communities across the country in the last week.

Since the first edition of our blog ‘Pt 1. How to support your local community during the Coronavirus outbreak’, M&S, Coca-Cola European Partners, Danone UK & Ireland, ALDI and Lidl have put a total of almost £500k into our new Community Fund which is providing micro-grants to over 1,000 local good causes registered on Neighbourly, during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Lidl has also set up customer food donation points in stores and begun work on putting together food and supply boxes to be distributed to those who are vulnerable during the outbreak through its Feed It Back Campaign – and that’s just the news at Neighbourly.

Out there in the community, nearly half a million people have signed up to volunteer for the NHS during the crisis and we’re hearing and seeing hundreds of heart warming stories of people supporting others in a myriad of different ways – from virtual dance parties to stop loneliness to neighbourhood groups dropping supplies to those in need.

We know so many people want to get involved and help in as many ways as possible, so we’ve put together our “part two” of tips for how to best help your community.

Volunteering

For anyone wanting to lend a hand to help the NHS, the way to sign up is via Good Sam. Once you’ve signed up to volunteer, they will alert you on opportunities to help in your local area with everything from transferring patients home once they’re well enough to be discharged from hospital, to assisting pharmacies with medication delivery.

If seeing all this volunteering happen has inspired you, you can also sign up to become a Red Cross Reserve Volunteer to help both now and in any future emergencies.

Neighbourhood groups

With so many amazing people keen to help, some streets can have multiple volunteers willing to go out of their way to help neighbours in need.

To help create a more collaborative and joined up approach, many of these volunteers are coming together to agree on one person being the main point of contact for their neighbourhood or street. This makes it much easier for those who are vulnerable to know exactly who to contact if the need help.

Using social media and chat apps, the main point of contact can coordinate within their volunteer group for each task that comes in.

With one point of contact willing to link with multiple people offering help, problems can be solved much more efficiently.

If you don’t know of any other volunteers in your area and still want to help, we’ve created a Neighbourly card you can print out and pop through your neighbour’s doors to let them know you’re there for them.

self isolating coronavirus help card neighbourly


Virtual fundraising

If you’re one of the many people left saddened by a cancelled fundraising event you’ve been working hard on, don’t despair. Try taking to your webcam and coming up with a whacky idea to raise funds for local charities from your sofa. There are plenty of free tools out there to help such as Zoom video conferencing and Facebook Live.

We asked the Neighbourly team for some of their ideas for virtual fundraisers to get you started:

  • Virtual quiz or ‘pub’ night
  • Virtual talent competition
  • Virtual fancy dress contest
  • Back garden marathon
  • Street sing-off (from your windows!)

To find local charities and community groups that need your best fundraising efforts, head to the Neighbourly website.

Community Kindness

Finally, you may have noticed rainbows appearing in the windows of your neighbour’s flats and houses. This was started to bring cheer for children on walks round their neighbourhood.

Popping a rainbow in your window is an easy way to make a friendly gesture to your neighbours.

Just remember, you don’t have to be an artist to draw a rainbow – and you don’t need to be a child to go rainbow spotting either!


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(Image Credit: Rowan Clark)

If you liked this blog and want more advice, check out part one of how to help your local community during the Coronavirus outbreak. If you share it on Twitter, don’t forget to follow and tag us @nbrly.

New fund to support community organisations helping those most at risk during Coronavirus crisis

20 March 2020
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Here at Neighbourly we know now, more than ever, how important it is to support local communities. That's why we've set up a new Community Fund, backed by our partner businesses, to support the Neighbourly causes that will be most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

M&S Family (including M&S Bank and M&S Energy), Lidl, Aldi, Danone UK & Ireland and Coca-Cola European Partners have created a new fund to support community organisations helping those most at risk during the Coronavirus crisis and are urging other businesses to join them.

The Neighbourly Community Fund will funnel vital funds directly to community causes across the UK to ensure they can deliver essential services to those most at risk during the crisis. Our partners have 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. And they are calling on other businesses to join them and contribute to the fund to build a coordinated response.

We know that 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. These 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 have told us they 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 will include organisations like The Moorlands Community Charity, which provides Meals on Wheels services for older people near Hull. Jacky Crawford, head of service there, told us: “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, we will be able to assess where the most urgent gaps in support are, and where to direct funds to.


Steve Rowe, CEO of M&S, has 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. This fund will help mobilise over 1,000 local charities and organisations across the UK to support the most vulnerable members of our 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."


Christian Härtnagel, CEO at Lidl GB, said:

“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, added:

“Neighbourly makes 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. The additional support provided through this fund is critical in ensuring Neighbourly causes have the support they need to continue making a positive difference to the most vulnerable in our society during this particularly difficult time.”


Leendert Den Hollander, Vice President and General Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners commented:

“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.”  


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.”


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 in recent weeks.
  • 75 percent of organisations expect to provide emergency provision after schools close

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. Our 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. 


We know that what is needed by community groups and charities today will be very different over the weeks and months to come. Through our nationwide network of vetted good causes we will work closely with our partners to ensure the right support is directed to those places in most urgent need.


How to support your local community during the Coronavirus outbreak

18 March 2020
nw bristol foodbank

Here at Neighbourly we know now, more than ever, how important it is to support local communities.

With almost 12,000 local good causes on the Neighbourly platform, we’re already hearing directly about the effects of Covid-19 on efforts to help those who are vulnerable – but also the amazing adaptability of organisations determined to keep these essential services running.

However, food banks are already running low on supplies and many parents are worried that they won’t be able to afford to feed their children during school closures.

For the thousands of employee volunteers and fundraisers using the Neighbourly platform, the work environment has been rapidly changing too – with many now working remotely and others drafted in to work in hard hit departments – particularly across health and retail.

Despite this, communities are coming together in force to offer much needed local support to those in need. 

So whilst we might not be able to run programmes in the usual way, we do have a few suggestions on how you can continue to stay neighbourly and support local communities over the next few weeks and months.


Donations

Do donate (or continue donating) to food bank collections at your local supermarket if you can. If you can’t make it to the supermarket, consider making a food or financial donation online.

Click here to find Neighbourly good causes that accept online donations. If you’re keen to donate locally, you can filter the results by postcode by using the search bar on the right-hand side.

If you’re shopping online, check to see if your supermarket takes financial donations to food banks – this money can be used to purchase additional supplies as demand increases from those who are vulnerable during the pandemic.


Support

Get in touch with your local charities and food banks to see how you can support them. They’re in the best place to let you know if they could do with additional volunteer help, cash or donations of supplies. You can find your nearest good causes and food banks via the Neighbourly platform.

People are also forming local groups across the country – often using social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to communicate and mobilise. Check to see if any groups have formed in your local area where they can help put you in touch with those in need.

If you’re unsure where to start, try typing the beginning of your post code into the Facebook search bar to see if any local groups already exist.

You can also find local groups listed on the new Covid Mutual Aid website.

Alternatively, a woman in Falmouth has come up with an innovative solution for offering help to those self-isolating. Simply print and fill out these postcards and pop them through your neighbours' doors. You don’t have to offer practical support, some of the people you reach may just want a friendly voice to chat to on the phone – particularly if they are forced to self-isolate alone.

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Advice and resources

For those that are concerned or worried about themselves or others, there are so many resources out there to help. Here are just a few that we think are particularly useful for local communities.

If you have concerns about the elderly and vulnerable, take a look at the advice from Age Concern.

If you are struggling with anxiety related to the pandemic, or have other mental health concerns for either yourself or others in your community, head over to Mind and their suggestions for ‘Coronavirus and mental wellbeing’.

For those with links to local day centres and homeless shelters, the government has released specific advice for how to deal with the coronavirus


Community response

Finally, we’ve been supporting efforts from a collaboration of community-focused organisations including Eden Project Communities and the Lottery Fund with their Community Covid 19 Action Response which has some easy but important suggestions for how to support your local community. You can see the top five in their illustration below.


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Please note, if you have any concerns for your health or the health of others, please refer to the government advice and NHS guidance.

Aldi stores across England, Scotland and Wales embrace the season of giving this Christmas

28 October 2019
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Aldi is embracing the season of goodwill once again this year, and is calling on charities and community groups across England, Scotland and Wales to register so that they can collect food donations this Christmas Eve.

Following the launch earlier this year of the successful partnership with Neighbourly, 95% of Aldi stores are now donating surplus food up to five days a week, all year round. Christmas provides an opportunity for even more charities to benefit from the initiative and we are therefore calling on all charities and community groups in England, Scotland and Wales to get in touch for a Christmas Eve donation.

As part of the Christmas initiative, charities and community groups will be paired with local stores and can collect fresh food products that are near the end of their shelf life such as fruit, vegetables, fresh meat, fish and bread after the store closes at 6pm on Christmas Eve.

Last Christmas, Aldi donated just under half a million meals to charities across the UK, and is hoping to increase this for Christmas 2019, spreading Christmas cheer to even more families.

Fritz Walleczek, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility at Aldi UK, said: “Our Christmas food donation scheme is something we’re really passionate about, and we’re working with Neighbourly this year to pair as many stores up as possible. Last year we were able to reach thousands of people across the UK, and some charities were even able to prepare fresh meals that fed families well into the New Year. This is our third year of Christmas food donations and we’re hoping this year will be just as successful.”

Charitable groups interested in working with Aldi this Christmas should contact aldichristmas@neighbourly.com before Monday 11th November 2019. All groups that apply must:

  • Have a level 2 hygiene certificate gained in the last two years
  • Be a registered charity, CIC or community group
  • Be able to collect, transport and store chilled food products

The community cafes supporting over 2,300 people in the UK, every week

2 September 2019
k9 cafe

This month marks the second anniversary of the Starbucks Community Café programme, launched in partnership with Neighbourly in August 2017, as a way to support small not-for-profit community spaces across Britain with donations of tea, coffee and other café essentials.

To mark the occasion we’ve been back to visit one of the original 20 cafés being supported by the scheme – the K9 café in Ely – to speak to the Starbucks store manager and some of the people involved.

The K9 cafe - a free, volunteer-run drop in centre for people who love dogs - started life as the brain wave of Chris Kent. She had been running employability training for adults and began the café as a welcoming and safe place for the group to continue to meet, practise and develop skills and confidence in a supportive environment. 

Gradually a team of volunteers emerged, who now run the café with Chris’ support. Local people drop in to the café to meet other people – some bringing their dogs and others coming along to have some company. The centre supports those with physical and mental learning difficulties and those suffering from social isolation. For many, coming to the café helps alleviate loneliness, with the dogs acting as a bridge between people.

Sadly, the project doesn’t get any regular funding – their only income is through proceeds from the tea/coffee sold, and they try and keep prices as low as possible as most visitors are on low incomes. The Starbucks support, which gives them free donations of essentials like coffee, tea, biscuits, cups, syrups and the like - is delivered through a partnership with their local Starbucks branch in Ely, and is an important factor in their continued survival.


Around Britain there are 19 more cafés being supported by the programme - from the Mint Lane Café in Lincoln all the way up Possobilities in Glasgow. They are all not-for-profit cafés, based within close-knit community spaces, with the focus being all about the benefits to the local community – providing good quality, healthy food and drink options at low prices or on a pay-what-you-can basis. They are all mostly volunteer-run and have a strong social angle – acting as sociable, safe and welcoming meeting spaces for many different local people – with a focus on community cohesion and inclusion.

In the past two years, the 20 cafes taking part have supported over 2,300 people every week and benefitted from donations of around 50,000 cups of tea, 45,000 cups of coffee, 30,000 cups of hot chocolate, and 64,000 biscuits! 

How to support the programme

You can support your local community cafe by popping in for a cup of tea or coffee, or maybe you could ‘pay-it-forward’ for a future customer in need. You'll find the cafés taking part in this programme on the campaign page. Follow and share their project pages across your social channels with the hashtag #StarbucksCommunityCafe.

If you're a community cafe looking for support, get in touch on starbucks@neighbourly.com.



M&S Volunteer Week 2019

3 June 2019
M&S mems 2018

This June, M&S teams from more than 600 store and office locations will be giving their time and skills to causes fighting for the well-being of children, young people and families. Their week of action, from 3rd to 7th June will see employees work with more than 400 schools, food banks, scout and guides groups, youth clubs, health and education charities on Neighbourly to create positive outcomes for thousands of young people across the UK.

With child poverty set to reach a record high in 2019 and with increasingly stretched schools, healthcare services, food banks and youth services, there’s never been a greater need to invest in young people. The events that have been created will all create a lasting benefit to a local organisation and a huge range of events have been planned – from revamping youth centres, to garden makeovers to skills workshops. Overall, the programme is delivering opportunities for over 4,500 M&S colleagues, committing over 38,000 volunteer hours to 442 community projects – from Scotland all the way down to Cornwall and across to Ireland. Each charity is also being given a donation to help make the event a success.

Building on the success of Making Every Moment Special in 2018, 298 stores will join together to collaborate on volunteer efforts with other nearby M&S stores. This will maximise the manpower impact for community projects as teams collaborate towards the shared goal to invest in young people.

Offering much needed people power and resources to schools

Schools will be the largest group of beneficiaries comprising 25% of causes supported and totalling more than 100 nurseries, primary and secondary schools. This comes at an important time with many schools significantly lacking the core resources they need to operate effectively. M&S employees will be volunteering in classrooms, offering employability training, promoting healthy eating, rejuvenating school halls and developing outdoor classrooms. In Bristol, the Avonmouth and Imperial stores will come together to revitalise the grounds of Hartcliffe Nursery School and Children's Centre through painting, clearing, repairing and planting – a project that will have a big impact for the local children in a deprived Bristol community, and one that the school would not otherwise be able to complete.

Transforming youth community spaces

Over 200 projects will see M&S staff getting stuck in to transform much loved community spaces through hands on activities – increasing the accessibility of outdoor space for well-being, repairing and painting playgrounds, brightening up youth centres. Children’s services are under increasing pressure and the work done by M&S to boost the vitality of physical environments will have a lasting impact for areas not otherwise resourced. In Sutton Coldfield three M&S teams will work with The Streetly Academy to turn a ‘dead space’ into a sensory garden for open mic sessions used by 150 SEND students to explore and express themselves musically.



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Promoting health and well-being for children and youth

90 projects will see the good work of young people’s physical and mental health services supported by M&S teams including many that have been put forward as a result of the personal experiences of M&S employees. The volunteers will be working with young people to run creative well-being workshops, rejuvenating family areas in hospitals and children’s hospices and helping to set up and run family fun days, fetes and events. At The Tanyard Youth project in South Wales, a team from Haverford West will be creating a courtyard and BBQ area to promote young people’s mental health and to create a long-lasting safe place for them to go within the community.

Tackling hunger for children and their families

Building on the M&S food redistribution programme through Neighbourly, more than 50 M&S food charity partners will receive 80 store and office teams across the week. Staff will be able to contribute beyond their weekly food donations to help those families in food poverty and the important work of the charities who support them. Food bank usage is at an all-time high with more than half a million emergency food parcels going to children last year from one food network alone.. Employees will be serving hot food to those in need, stocking shelves with essential supplies and rolling up their sleeves to carry out important maintenance work in order for the charities to continue to operate. In North West London the Harrow team will be working on the community allotment at My Yard Watford – one of our longest running food surplus partners who joined the scheme in 2015. They’ll be harvesting crops in the community garden, hosting a community meal and seeing first hand why M&S food surplus is so valued within the local community.

Sharing skills and helping young people into employment

With partners including CLIC Sargent and the YMCA, 30 store and office teams will be sharing their experiences of the working world with young adults and children, supporting CV writing and job skills workshops and investing their retail skills within their communities. Across 4 learning centres 8 teams will work with Young Enterprise to teach students about the skills and qualities required to be successful in the workplace, building a broader understanding of routes to employment amongst students.

For the charities, schools and groups taking part, we hope M&S Volunteer Week will be a wonderful experience and we can’t wait to see the photos!

Follow all the action on #MarksInAction

International Women's Day reflections

8 March 2019
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As we mark and celebrate another International Women's Day, three of our wonderful team members reflect on this year's theme of #BalanceforBetter and what it means for them..


Rowena Salmon

When reflecting on the theme #BalanceforBetter, I think about the way that our work at Neighbourly pushes society to value what historians and sociologists call 'women's work'. This is the invisible, unpaid labour (going on outside of the 9 to 5) to sustain relationships, provide nourishment and create spaces for families and communities to flourish. When we speak to our community partners, and connect them with support in whatever form, we're doing our bit to redress the balance of where we place value and what kinds of work are worth our time.


Zoe Colosimo

My Granny's 103rd birthday on Saturday was an eye opener (not least because she's 103!) - but it caused me to reflect again on how much society has changed in a short period of time. As a woman who supported the war effort and then continued the fight long after the last shot was fired, to feed and clothe her family, she just could not comprehend why at Neighbourly we help to distribute surplus because she could not understand why surplus existed in the first place. From a time when every last scrap was used, mashed potato was added to butter to make it go further, and clothes darned and patched to extend their life, a recent pattern of behaviour (enforced by the fast-pace of life), has resulted in our demand to have access to food and produce at a moment's notice and our supermarkets have responded, inevitably resulting in surplus stock. Equally with the handle of fast fashion turning and the ever-decreasing price-points for clothes that used to be bought as a staple to get us through the season are now bought for a night out or two and then disposed of...

But today there are still people fighting to survive in our communities. Richard Watts, who chairs the Local Government Association’s resources board, said: “Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost almost 60 pence out of every pound the Government had provided for services" which is a catastrophic decline in support for our grass-roots causes which must be given the best opportunity to survive if our communities are going to be happy, healthy places. At Neighbourly we're incredibly fortunate to be able to do something about it - technology means available produce can easily be matched with local needs ensuring such valuable resources are connected to help reduce the day-to-day struggles of so many.

So a public and personal commitment from me to my Granny - the most determined woman I know and a true role-model - to ensure we treat resources with respect, connecting surplus with those in need, making sure every member of society - man, woman or child has the best chance for surviving another day.


Martha Goudie

I was taught #balanceforbetter by my dad who brought up 3 daughters. Now we 3 are independent women, championing equality through different paths - nursing, social care, motherhood and business for good. I think that we shouldn’t forget to recognise the important part that our male role models play. My father is as a strong a figurehead for gender equality and celebrating the achievements of women as my sisters, female friends and colleagues. Like most significant change, gender equality can only be achieved together. Collaboration is the word :)


A balanced world is a better world - amen to that.

Creating your free page on Neighbourly just got easier

15 November 2018

A page on Neighbourly can help Charities and Community Groups raise their profile and receive donations of money, time and surplus food/products from our corporate clients. It's also a great place to share stories and all the good work being done to support local communities.

Over the last few months, we’ve been making it even easier for good causes to create a free page on neighbourly.com. Based on feedback from our community, we have released a new step-by-step process to guide people through creating their page and setting up their goals - whether that be food donations, fundraising or volunteer support.


Create your free page in a few easy steps

Following the step-by-step process you can tell us about your organisation and provide an image so people can understand what your organisation does. We also ask for some information about yourself so we can create an account and let you know about all the different opportunities that could benefit you.

You’ll know where you are in the process and what you still need to complete by the steps at the top of the page.


The clever bit…..

We’ve connected with the The Charities Commission and Companies House and can now look-up registration numbers for any Charities and Community Interest Companies (CIC).

When entering a registration number we can search and display the official information and also use those details to pre-populate the name, description, contact details and address - making it even quicker and easier for you:

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This information is made available under the Open Government License v2.0


Tell us what your organisation needs

Whilst creating a Neighbourly a page you can quickly start fundraising, create a volunteer event or request food surplus from our corporate clients:

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After you’ve completed steps 1 to 5, just publish your page and share it on your social networks to get started! If you’ve requested food donations, we’ll be in touch to let you know about local stores that can support you.

We’re always busy working with our corporate clients on delivering new community programmes, so rest assured we’ll be in touch as soon as we think there’s something we can help you with.


Ready to get started?

Simply click the link here to start your page: https://www.neighbourly.com/goodcause/new/


Tell us what you think

We hope you find creating your Neighbourly page easy and would love to know what you think. Please email us at support@neighbourly.com.

New features are being developed and released all the time and we are always looking for people to provide feedback. If you would like to join our user testing community please email: product@neighbourly.com.

Marks and Spencer, food surplus & community

18 September 2018
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Marks and Spencer has for a long time been dedicated to making a difference with its ‘Plan A’ vision for a sustainable future. Through this programme, first launched over 10 years ago in 2007, they strive to be a business that has a positive impact on wellbeing, communities and the planet. The program focuses on social and environmental issues and ensuring that by 2025 they are a circular business, generating zero waste – a bold goal that involves all their operations, supply chains and customers.

Since 2012, M&S have been zero-waste-to-landfill across their owned operations in the UK and Republic of Ireland and have made the prevention of food waste a priority. They were the first major retailer to provide live updates via the Neighbourly website on the number of tonnes of surplus food redistributed, and the first to manage a nationwide redistribution scheme through a single platform.

This type of thinking isn’t new to M&S. They’ve always been an innovator and leader in their food operations – pioneering boil-in-the-bag and sachet meals in 1972, then creating Britain’s first chilled instant meal, the much-loved chicken Kiev in 1979. The ease of not having to cook up a meal from scratch suited the working woman and the popularity of the ready-meal soared – an innovation that most certainly changed how we ate as we entered the ‘80s.

Arguably their greatest invention remains the adored packaged sandwich, created by M&S in the spring of 1980. Packaged sandwiches are now a staple in our lives and the industry is booming, its annual worth estimated at £8 billion – so it may seem surprising that the idea had never been tried before, but it hadn’t. Packaged sandwiches were a huge novelty when they started being sold on the Marks and Spencer shop floor for as little as 43p just 37 years ago. Some thought them outlandish – who would pay for something they could just as easily make at home? But they sold, and sold fast. The way that we lived and worked was changing and soon every supermarket was following the trend. In the early 90s, the head of their sandwich department developed M&S’s first dedicated “food to go” section, with its own tills and checkouts, in Manchester. The innovation was a huge success and prefigured the layout of most contemporary supermarkets.

But as we know, the advent of the modern-day supermarket, combined with the changing lifestyles and expectations of consumers has bought about one of today’s biggest environmental challenges – food waste. The total estimate for UK food waste stands at a staggering 10.2 million tonnes. Of that, 7.1 million tonnes are thrown away in our homes – with 70% classed as ‘avoidable’ (meaning every year we put 5.0 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten into our bins, worth an estimated £15 billion). Marks and Spencer are working to address this problem through advancements in the products and packaging that they sell. They engage their customers and encourage them to store and use food more efficiently – for example shoppers have been given tips on how to avoid food waste and the clarity of food date labelling has been improved.

Of the remaining 3.1 million tonnes of UK food waste, 260,000 tonnes come from retail, 1.85 million from manufacturers and around 1 million from hospitality and food service. This waste has been the focus of intense scrutiny in recent years, which has successfully resulted in a 50% increase in the amount redistributed to good causes in just two years, according to WRAP. This brings the 2017 total to the equivalent of 102 million meals redistributed – to the value of £130 million.

Marks & Spencer’s approach to food waste is comprehensive and they have committed to reducing food waste by 20% by 2020 and becoming a zero-waste business by 2025. Their primary aim is to reduce the amount of waste created in the first place and they’ve invested in new stock forecasting and planning systems as well as comprehensive supplier engagement schemes. They’ve also increased the volume of short life food sold at a discount to customers and this process now consistently clears most of the products that would otherwise have been disposed of. After redistributing whatever possible to good causes through the Neighbourly platform, any remaining surplus goes to anaerobic digestion (a process that turns food waste into electricity – some of which is bought back to power M&S stores) – absolutely nothing goes to landfill. 

To date, M&S stores have donated around 5.6 million meals to local communities through the Neighborly platform. This includes surplus baked goods, cupboard items, fruit, vegetables and chilled food (meat, dairy, fish, frozen food, ready meals, juices, sandwiches). They also donate flowers and non-food surplus like cleaning products, laundry items and toiletries. Their stores are connected to more than 850 local charities across the UK where meals, food parcels and a helping hand are provided to those who need it.

Through Neighbourly, every store is partnered with a nearby group such as a community café, foodbank or homeless shelter that receives daily alerts to let them know when surplus is available. Thanks to these donations, charity partners can benefit from their resources going a little further, enabling them to provide fresh items, fruit and vegetables to people in the community who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them. The stores also provide wider support to their local charities through their year-long Local Charity Fundraising and annual volunteering programmes.

Here are just a few of the local causes that M&S support through Neighbourly:

Whitechapel Centre is the leading homelessness and housing charity in Liverpool supporting people to get back on their feet and providing them with a hot meal and a kind smile. Local M&S stores (and other retailers) give their unsold food to the centre so that this service can be provided. The charity also gives advice on housing, employment and basic facilities for the homeless. They are committed to helping people who are sleeping rough, living in hostels or struggling to manage their accommodation find a home and learn essential independent living skills. They work closely with each individual to get them the right help.

Norwich Food Hub collect surplus food from many stores in the area to redistribute it to community groups and local charities across the city. The hub was born from Director Rowan van Tromp’s passion surrounding environmental sustainability within the food supply chain and realisation that there was a lack of this type of service in the area. They receive and sort the food surplus before redistributing it to the vulnerable people across the city who are living at or below the breadline. Sadly, food poverty is a large issue in Norwich but the food hub’s work to redistribute surplus food is helping to lessen the problem.

In Yeovil, the community meals service delivers hot meals for the elderly or those who struggle to cook for themselves. Their meals are homemade and delivered by volunteers to people who might be suffering with dementia or physical issues that prevent them from cooking. Through this service carers are given a break from the task of preparing dinner by having a hot meal delivered instead, taking the strain away and brightening people’s days.


Nowadays we find that most businesses are actually doing more to change on the inside than many people appreciate, and M&S continues to lead from the front as customer expectations about what kind of companies they want to support change. As M&S colleagues continue to challenge why more can't be done, we at Neighbourly are continually working on solutions that connect their contribution so that customers notice and want to know how they can join in. We're extremely proud of our 4+ year partnership with M&S and how we've proved that a national business can indeed make a local difference in every community it serves.

For more information on Plan A, have a look at corporate.marksandspencer.com/plan-a


How to get involved in the M&S surplus scheme

Marks and Spencer are continuing to expand their food surplus scheme, making sure they can donate as much food surplus as possible and make a positive impact in the community. If you have a charity or community cause that could regularly collect surplus, you should join the Neighbourly platform and create a free page for your group. Your organisation will need a Level 2 (or equivalent) food hygiene certified no longer than 2.5 years ago. For chilled collections, you’ll need cool bags or boxes, freezers for storage and volunteers to collect after store closing in the evening.


Neighbourly calls for charities to join its food surplus scheme

18 September 2018
nw bristol foodbank

PRESS RELEASE, 19 September 2018

Giving platform Neighbourly has today put out a call inviting charities, food projects, schools and community groups to join its free food surplus redistribution scheme. Neighbourly is the redistribution partner to retailers and manufacturers including Marks & Spencer, Lidl and Danone

Through the Neighbourly platform, the equivalent of more than 7.5 million meals has been distributed to over 1,500 charities and community projects in local communities across the UK and Ireland.

Now Neighbourly is extending the scheme to more communities whose residents and families are suffering from food poverty and insecurity. The latest research from WRAP shows that food redistribution from commercial sources (retailers, manufacturers and hospitality and food services businesses) has increased by 50% in just two years but that there is potential for increased redistribution. One of the things that is needed for this to happen is for more charities to be aware that this resource is available to them and join up to benefit from the scheme. 

Neighbourly’s own research – from surveying its food surplus recipients – shows just how important receiving surplus is to them. On average, charities reported that they save an estimated average of £161 a month through these food donations and 90% find the Neighbourly food surplus schemes beneficial or extremely beneficial. 

Food surplus available for daily collection includes fruit and veg, bakery products and ambient food (food which can be safely stored at room temperature in a sealed container). It is also possible for charities to collect chilled items from some stores - dairy, meat, fish, chilled drinks and packaged ready meals, as long as they can meet certain criteria for safe collection, transportation and storage of chilled goods. 

“While the Neighbourly platform has distributed the equivalent of more than 7.5 million meals over the past three years, it’s imperative that we keep building knowledge across the sector that this valuable resource is available” Nick Davies, Neighbourly’s founder, added. “We invite charities of all shapes and sizes to join, from small community groups right through to larger charity networks, who in particular are able to put chilled items to good use. So much of the food surplus supply chain is as yet untapped. The Neighbourly food surplus scheme is free and easy for charities and community food projects to get involved with, so we encourage them to sign up.”  


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

 

Chilled food donations criteria 

In order to collect chilled food donations (meat, fish, dairy, ready meals, chilled drinks), charities must be able to meet the following criteria:

  • Level 2 (or equivalent) food hygiene certificate and/or FSA rating (4 stars or above) certified no longer than 2.5 years ago
  • Cool-boxes or cool-bags or refrigerated vehicles for transportation of donated items
  • Fridge/freezer space for immediate storage at premises