/blog/The Neighbourly blog | NeighbourlyRead the Neighbourly blog for our latest news, resources and information about our fundraising, volunteering and surplus programmes.

Aldi pledges to donate 10 million meals to families facing hunger

13 January 2021
hunger monster aldi 2

This week Aldi released an awareness raising animation, narrated by football star and child food poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford, that for the first time personifies the devastating impact hunger can have on children.

The animation comes as part of Aldi’s commitment to donate 10 million meals in 2021 through the Neighbourly Foundation, to support families affected by food insecurity and hunger and combat its devastating effects.

In Aldi’s animation, the constant hunger a child can feel is represented by a Hunger Monster that never leaves the child’s side. Whether they are trying to sleep, play or learn, the monster is always there.

Currently this is the reality for one in every five children in the UK who struggle to access adequate nutrition, which can have a dramatic impact on their day-to-day life, affecting energy to be active and to concentrate on school work.

Rising child hunger

Our most recent survey of over 500 local good causes supporting children and families revealed that the problem of child hunger is only getting worse, with the impact of Covid-19 felt acutely across many local communities.

aldi hunger monster 1

Those that replied to the survey reported that the demand for food provision for families has increased by as much as 71% in the past six months. A staggering 96% of the children they are supporting are missing meals at least once a week, with 42% going without food three times a week and an upsetting 14% of children missing a meal every single day.

“2021 is a time to level the playing field once-and-for-all”

It’s clear that now is the time to act to make sure no child continues to suffer without adequate food and nutrition - with Aldi’s emotive campaign showing it is as much about raising awareness as it is about taking action.

Giles Hurley, Chief Executive Officer at Aldi UK and Ireland, said about the initiative: “At Aldi we’re making it our mission to fight against child food poverty as no child should ever go hungry. Not only are we pledging to donate 10 million meals throughout 2021 to families that need it, this campaign also aims to help raise awareness of the increasing number of families struggling to put food on the table.

“We were delighted for Marcus Rashford MBE to be the voice of the boy, which shows just what an important issue it is to us all.”

Marcus Rashford, added: “Reading the script for the Aldi animation I felt like I was talking about myself 10 years ago. This story is a reality for millions of children across the UK so, of course, I was happy to lend my voice. I'm proud to call Aldi a Founding Member of the Child Food Poverty Taskforce. Aldi has continued to take active steps to combat the issue of child food poverty and I would encourage everyone to get involved in their pledge to donate 10 million meals. 2021 is a time to level the playing field once-and-for-all."

Aldi’s 10 million meals pledge launches today. For more information visit the Aldi website or support the campaign by donating the cost of a meal via the Neighbourly Foundation.

New Central Government contracts must show Social Value

12 January 2021
government procurement social value blog image

From the 1st January 2021, the government has introduced a new ‘Social Value’ procurement policy meaning all businesses awarded Central Government contracts must demonstrate that they can offer social value in the delivery of that contract.

This represents an exciting step forward, highlighting not only the importance of businesses' economic value for money but also their ability to support the communities in which they are based - social value.

At Neighbourly we’ve already seen the phenomenal impact businesses can have when building social value into their brand and purpose. By supporting local communities via our network of thousands of local good causes, businesses have already proven they can build in scalable and meaningful impact through the donation of surplus food and products, employee volunteering programmes and financial donation management.

We're therefore pleased to see some of these methods and approaches to social impact adopted and recognised as important and measurable factors for government’s future contract assessments and are looking forward to seeing what kind of effect this will have on local communities and wider business communities in the coming months and years.

Measuring social value

The new social value policy will account for 10% of the score awarded to applicants looking to secure central government contracts.

Social value will be assessed with an emphasis on qualitative evaluation to ensure ‘quality over quantity’ - allowing commercial teams to be able to select objectives that are relevant and proportionate to their procurement.

The Social Value policy has been broken down and modelled using key themes, objectives and outcomes that help describe ‘what good looks like’.

The key themes are as follows: 

  • Help local communities to manage and recover from the impact of COVID-19

  • Create new businesses, new jobs and new skills

  • Increase supply chain resilience and capacity

  • Effective stewardship of the environment 

  • Reduce the disability employment gap

  • Tackle workforce inequality

  • Improve health and wellbeing 

  • Improve community integration

The future for business

It’s never been more important for businesses to take responsibility for ensuring community focussed policies are intrinsic to their purpose - creating a more sustainable and fairer society for all.

Whilst the government’s social value procurement policy is only one part of the puzzle, it is an integral step forward to formally recognising the importance of businesses in supporting the needs of local communities - including a structure for what this might look like. It also represents a telling sign that the economy is moving closer to a model where all types of business, not just those looking to secure government contracts, will need to show social value as well as economic value.

As the new policy comes into play through 2021, we will be continuing to support businesses that are evolving to offer social value to local communities as well as sharing knowledge and insights from this latest government move.

To stay up-to-date, follow us on Twitter @nbrly or via the Neighbourly LinkedIn page.

2 Million Meals donated to families in need this Christmas

6 January 2021
east belfast mission christmas

This year, the Neighbourly platform has recorded 2 million meals donated to local good causes in the lead up to Christmas and New Year.

Through our partnerships with Marks and Spencer, Aldi and Lidl, over 2,000 local good causes collected a total of over 800 tonnes of food in just two short weeks, distributing it to thousands of families, vulnerable people and those facing additional hardships this winter.

"When good people come together they can make a huge difference"

Charities like East Belfast Mission, whose volunteers collected donations from M&S on Christmas Eve - distributing it to over 50 families in East Belfast.

preston united christmas donations

Plus, community groups like Preston United whose volunteers delivered boxes full of festive goodies to those in need - including the ingredients to make a full Christmas dinner. 

They said on Twitter: “This year has been very difficult but when good people come together they can make a huge difference. Thank you for the support for our Christmas Surprise, which helped so many families in need across Preston.”

Even the days between Christmas and New Year, volunteers at Rehoboth Community Outreach Club were still out distributing food and supplies to the most vulnerable. 

They told us on Twitter: "We are out doing drop-offs to local homeless hostels and vulnerable in our community, providing for those in need in South East London. A massive thanks to Neighbourly and Marks and Spencer for their donations over the Christmas holidays.”

Feeding the nation

These examples represent just three of the many thousands of good causes making a huge impact in local communities across the UK and Ireland.

It’s been an incredibly tough year for local good causes looking after the vulnerable in our community - with many more people struggling through the pandemic to afford basic essentials such as food and toiletries, let alone Christmas treats for themselves and their families.

But businesses like M&S, Lidl and Aldi are continually recognising the difference they can make in their local communities through surplus donations, volunteering and fundraising programmes.

Whilst Christmas and the festive season is an important time for sharing and giving, it’s not the only time people need support. As we continue through the winter months and into a third national lockdown, it’s anticipated that more and more people will face hunger and deprivation - needing the support of community groups and food banks to survive.

That’s why we’re continuing to work with our partners in 2021 to develop new programmes to support good causes, so they can continue to work on what’s most important to their communities and offer much needed support to those that need it.

To stay up-to-date on our latest news, follow us on Twitter @nrbly or via the Neighbourly LinkedIn Page.

Latest Community Survey reveals resilience to challenges for local good causes this winter

9 December 2020
community survey winter header

The last time we last surveyed a section of our community of over 15,000 good causes, one thing which stood out was the speed of which small charities, food banks and community organisations had adapted through the pandemic despite the immense challenges faced.

Our latest survey results come six months after Civil Society reported that the charity sector’s income was expected to drop by £6.7bn whilst demand for services rose by the equivalent of £3.4bn.

As we head further into winter, demand for food banks and support groups is expected to double as young families and vulnerable people struggle with the economic and social impact of Covid-19.

Good causes remain the beating heart of thousands of communities, providing support and care that is unique to the needs of local people - but as demand continues to rise through the winter and beyond, our survey highlighted a number of concerning trends.

Rising need

In November, over 1,100 local good causes responded to our winter Community Survey. Respondents included food banks, homeless shelters, disability charities, community centres, youth charities and more.

Almost 70% of these groups said they were supporting young people, with over 70% supporting adults and older people. The average number of people each organisation reported supporting was 363 per week.

community survey winter 1

Access to funding

Whilst half of responding good causes were able to access emergency relief funding to continue their operations, two thirds have still suffered an income loss to some degree and 6 in 10 are expecting a further drop in income over the next 3-6 months.

Of the organisations who were unable to access emergency grants, the majority (71%) said it was because they were not eligible. Just over half also said they just didn’t have enough time to find out what was available to them, whilst over a third felt the application process was too time consuming.

community survey winter 2

In order to survive through the pandemic months, around 50% of organisations enlisted help from the community. At the same time just under a third were forced to dip into financial reserves and over a quarter enlisted extra help from friends and family. 

community survey winter 3

Support through winter

In part, the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to have an effect on the number of donations received by small charities over the festive season, with over half of good causes expecting a drop in Christmas donations this year.

community survey winter 4

What’s more, 81% of good causes said they were expecting a further increase in demand over the next 6 months.

Despite this, over 50% of the organisations we surveyed are planning to provide food and/or activities to children during the Christmas holidays - supporting an average of 112 children a week. 

Concerns for the future

community survey winter 5

For most good causes, this increase in demand is one of their biggest concerns, followed by a drop in funding and mental health issues amongst service users.

Despite the worries and uncertainty, small charities have continued to be some of the greatest innovators of the pandemic - continuing to adapt and evolve to changing regulations, fluctuating funds and rising demand.

When these small community causes were asked what was needed to keep them going in the next 6 months the top three answers were around support - in the form of continued donations from the local community and businesses and an increase in support from the government.

Looking forward

For Neighbourly, getting to know the strengths of the small charities and local good causes using our platform, as well as the challenges they face, is integral to our mission to ensure they have the right support to continue to provide the unique and essential services required by people in their local area.

In the coming months we will continue to assess the impact of Covid-19 and the immediate needs for good causes, building on knowledge we hope will lead to better and more sustained support for local communities in the months and years to come.

Part of that support will be delivered through the newly launched Neighbourly Foundation (charity 1189514) - a dedicated charitable arm of Neighbourly, created to provide a permanent means of administering grant programmes and to enable us to respond quickly and efficiently to emergency need within our local communities.

The Foundation will directly support causes that look after the health and happiness of our communities, facilitated by new grant-making functionality on the platform that will ensure funds are deployed in real-time.

Stay up to date with our latest research and more by following us on Twitter @nbrly or via the Neighbourly LinkedIn page.

Join us in celebrating the #HiddenHeroes of our local communities this winter

8 December 2020

This year has been an extraordinarily challenging year for local communities across the country. But as we know, thousands of small charities, good causes and community groups have been working tirelessly to make sure help and support is there for those who need it the most.

Whether it’s emergency food, shelter, emotional support and advice, companionship, skills training and more, local good causes and their volunteers have been the hidden heroes of the pandemic.

As a big thank you to the small charities and good causes keeping our communities going through an incredibly tough year, we’ll be sharing video clips and photos from some of the most inspiring projects throughout December.

But with over 15,000 projects registered on the Neighbourly site, we need your help. That’s why we’re inviting good causes registered with Neighbourly to get involved by sharing clips and photos of your hidden heroes on Twitter by using the hashtag #HiddenHereos and tagging us @nbrly.

We've already seen some fantastic clips - such as this one from Enfield Carers Centre which supports and empowers almost 5,000 unpaid carers across Enfield.

Together we can make some noise about the amazing difference local good causes make and ensure as many hidden heroes as possible are recognised and celebrated this Christmas.

If you’d like to get involved, you can find further information and instructions here.

Aldi to donate £1 for every fresh turkey purchased this Christmas

7 December 2020
aldi turkey donations 2

We’re excited to announce that this Christmas, ALDI has pledged to make a £1 donation to the Neighbourly Foundation for every one of its fresh whole turkeys and fresh turkey crowns purchased in the run-up to the big day.

With turkeys most commonly the centrepiece at millions of homes on Christmas day, it’s hoped that the campaign will raise upwards of £400,000 - making a tremendous difference to local good causes right the way across the country.

"We are delighted to be working with Aldi in helping them to support local communities"

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, said: “It’s great to be able to give shoppers the chance to get ahead for Christmas by offering our fresh turkeys earlier than normal.

"However, we know that for many, food poverty is a stark reality during these difficult times.

"That’s why we’re trying to support the communities in which we operate by providing a £1 donation for every fresh turkey we sell, in a bid to help tackle the issue of hunger.”

Steve Butterworth, Neighbourly’s CEO added: "We are delighted to be working with Aldi in helping them to support communities local to all of their stores across the UK.

"Their food surplus programme has been going from strength to strength over the past two years, and has provided over 7 million meals to people affected by the pandemic since March alone. 

“Sadly, local causes and the people they support are facing a difficult winter, and this new scheme to help tackle poverty through donations to the Neighbourly Foundation will make a huge difference."

To get involved simply head to your local ALDI and pick up a fresh turkey or turkey crown before the 25th December and ALDI will donate £1 to the Neighbourly Foundation.

The Neighbourly Foundation is a registered charity that was set up to provide emergency financial relief to thousands of small charities and local community groups across the UK and Ireland - from food banks, to youth clubs and more.

Seven ways B Corps are sticking to their values through the pandemic

3 December 2020
b corp 5th birthday

Back in 2015, Neighbourly became one of the founding UK B Corps. A certification with roots in the US that champions better business - with well known B Corp brands including the likes of Ben and Jerry’s, Danone, Innocent, Etsy and Patagonia.

Becoming a B Corp however is no mean feat. Companies who certify make a legally binding commitment to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.

This year has been an incredibly tough year for all types of businesses, but in wanting to stay true to their values, many have come up with creative ways to ensure their staff, customers and environment remains a priority.

To celebrate B Corp’s 5th birthday in the UK, we caught up with fellow B Corp’s Danone UK and Ireland* and Forster Communications to find out what they, and other ‘good’ businesses, have been doing to honour their values and support people through the pandemic.

Time for volunteering

At Neighbourly, we see and hear about the incredible impact volunteers have on their local communities every day - and through the pandemic, the charities and community groups that rely on them have struggled at times to get the help they need to keep running.

Since launching our remote volunteering programme in the summer, staff across Danone UK and Ireland have embraced a new way of supporting small charities through the Neighbourly platform. You can read about their team remote volunteering and how they’ve tackled loneliness through befriending opportunities on the Neighbourly blog.

melissus project

So far this year, Danone UK and Ireland’s volunteering has contributed an incredible 13,000+ hours of support to 65 different charities.

They're not the only ones though. Forster ensures staff have the flexibility to volunteer alongside their work - with Director Peter Gilheany volunteering with a community rickshaw setup in his hometown (pictured below), to safely ferry his neighbours around during the pandemic.

Similarly, staff at Neighbourly have access to unlimited volunteering days, with some of the team looking forward to spreading some festive cheer via phone calls to older people through Age UK this Christmas.

Openness to change

For many thousands of office workers across the UK, the move to home working in March was somewhat abrupt, with some facing months sat on sofas or at cramped kitchen tables.

Embracing the change and supporting staff has been key to B Corps around the world - but it’s translated in many different ways.

Providing desks and chairs to those that need them and allowing staff to be more flexible than ever in their working hours, particularly when they have children at home, has been important to factor in for many businesses.

For developer Jake, who had nowhere quiet at home to work, Neighbourly was able to help fund insulation in his office ‘shed’ to allow him to stay warm whilst home working.

jake working from home shed

Jake told us: “A huge part of what makes a company a good company during this pandemic is truly listening to the challenges their employees face as individuals, and being proactively helpful and flexible in adapting to the way that person works to get the best out of them. Not just in terms of their productivity, but also in terms of their happiness and wellbeing.”

At the same time, moving to home working has allowed businesses to see just how happy and productive their staff can continue to be. For Neighbourly this realisation has led to retaining a valued member of staff who moved thousands of miles away and allowing other team members to be with family - even if that meant them being temporarily abroad.

mischa working from home

With the right culture, new staff can feel supported and welcomed - even in the middle of a pandemic. Mischa Afedzie-Hayford (pictured above), who started working as Neighbourly's Legal & Compliance Manager back in the midst of the first lockdown, said: "To me, a good business is a one that takes care of its employees. Being part of a business such as Neighbourly where the team is supported and genuinely cared for is wonderful.”

For every business, supporting teams through continued home working will look a little bit different. But being open to individual needs and staying flexible during times of chaos has been, and will continue to be, key to the wellbeing of staff and business alike for the foreseeable future.

Honouring commitments

Whilst it could’ve been easy for businesses to lose track of their environmental impact or goals this year, B Corps have made a legally binding pledge to stay true to their commitments.

“It has never been clearer that businesses need to act for the communities we work in”

At Danone UK and Ireland, this hasn’t been about an obligation, it’s about doing what’s right and continuing to fight for better business.

As Danone UK and Ireland is part of a multinational corporation and home to different business entities and brands, its global target to become fully B Corp certified by 2025 is a significant undertaking.

Its Danone Waters UK and Ireland business has recently certified as a B Corp, whilst its Danone Essential Dairy and Plant-based UK business has also recertified this year with an improved score.

Adam Grant, regional VP of Danone Essential Dairy and Plant-based UK & Ireland, said: “This reaccreditation demonstrates our ongoing commitment to social and environmental progress. It has never been clearer that businesses need to act for the communities we work in and support, and the B Corp status helps us to focus on areas where we can keep doing more and challenging ourselves to be better.

“Having previously been the first UK dairy company to achieve accreditation, we are determined to keep innovating to be ahead of the curve. The fact that we’ve improved on our previous B Corp score is testament to that. We know we must continue to strive for positive change – and collaborating, sharing and learning with the B Corp community plays a key part in this.”

Danone now has around 45% of its global businesses accredited with the B Corp status - marking major progress towards its 2025 ambition.

Staying connected

Despite the initial excitement of Zoom and other video chat tools wearing off somewhat, companies have recognised the need for everyone to stay connected.

For both Neighbourly and Forster, daily coffee chats are commonplace with virtual socials bringing together employees for a cheeky post-work drink on the odd occasion too.

forster lockdown meetups

Where lockdown measures have allowed, Forster teams have been given dedicated time out to go for a 10k challenge walk, cycle or run, culminating in a socially distanced park catchup (pictured above).

It’s opportunities like this that keeps teams feeling connected to each other, the business and its purpose of doing good.

Holiday from the screen

Until this year, many wouldn’t consider taking annual leave unless they were actually going away on holiday. But encouraging staff to take time away from their desks and get some headspace is more important now than ever before.

Particularly for employees in businesses that have been busier than usual during the pandemic, taking a break is integral for both mental wellbeing and to prevent burnout.

In recognition of this, the team at Neighbourly were given an extra day off this year, that had to be taken off during the month of May, to ensure staff were getting time away from their screens.

Forster also recognises the benefits of having a day of ‘just because’ - offering its staff an annual ‘You Day’ which can be taken without reason.


At the start of the pandemic, we were in awe of the incredible businesses that made donations to the Neighbourly Community Fund - providing emergency grants to over 3,000 good causes.

The total fund topped an astounding £1.2M with donations coming from Danone UK & Ireland, M&S, Lidl, Aldi, Coca-Cola European Partners, giffgaff, Southern Coop and HEINEKEN.

We’ve also seen many other businesses and their staff work tirelessly to fundraise for the charities that mean the most to them too, like employees at Cadent who continued to find creative ways to fundraise despite the lockdowns (pictured below).

cadent hannah pancreatic cancer

Now that we’ve set up the Neighbourly Foundation we’re excited to pave the way for businesses, however big or small, to be able to support their local communities through thick and thin.

Supporting mental wellbeing

No matter the perks for staff, or the purpose of the business, mental health is something that affects us all. Being a good business therefore, is about recognising this both formally in the provision of support for those who need it and informally to encourage a culture of employees who know it’s ok to not be ok.

Through business insurance, Forster staff can access one to one counselling when it’s needed. Whilst staff at Neighbourly have access to an online CBT course.

B-Corp certified or not, being a company that cares is becoming increasingly important in today’s society and its meaning can vary wildly from business to business. Supporting staff and creating better businesses doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, and we hope that some of the examples in this blog inspires other businesses to make a positive change.


Seeing that businesses have continued to stick to their values in their own unique ways through a year as challenging as 2020 gives us real hope that the future of business will be a better one and of benefit to all.

Thanks to the Neighbourly team, Danone UK and Ireland and Forster for sharing some of their experiences this year. Find out more about the B Corp accreditation on the B Corp UK website.

* In Danone UK & Ireland, Danone Essential Dairy & Plant-based achieved B Corp certification in the UK in 2017 and in Ireland in 2018. Danone Waters UK & Ireland has recently announced its B Corp certification.

3 easy ways to give this Giving Tuesday

1 December 2020
giving Tuesday 2020

With just weeks to go until the Christmas holidays begin, and the infamous Black Friday just passed, millions of us have been trying to get the best deals on gifts for our family, friends and loved ones.

As well as giving to those we love, Christmas is a season of kindness and goodwill so, for many, giving to those in need is just as important a part of the festive season.

Today we’re celebrating Giving Tuesday, the global day of giving where everyone, everywhere is encouraged to do something to support the good causes that mean the most to them. 

2020 has been an incredibly tough year for a lot of people, and for some it’s the time to give back, so for those looking to do something for Giving Tuesday (and beyond), we’ve put together a list of 3 easy ways to give this Christmas.

Support a campaign

There are so many brilliant campaigns running through Neighbourly this year, making it easier than ever to support those in need in your local community.

Donate to the Lidl ‘Tackling Hunger’ campaign. 

Head to any Lidl store and you’ll spot ‘Teaming up to tackle hunger leaflets’ at the entrance or by the tills. Scan a leaflet through the till with your shopping to donate food items to your local food bank - from as little as 35p for a tin of tomatoes - and Lidl will match your donation.

You can also text ‘Food’ to 70007 to donate £3 or donate online via the Lidl Teaming up to tackle hunger page.

Buy a book, give a book with Penguin.

Until the 21st December, you can buy any book from the ‘It begins with a book’ page on Bookshop.org and Penguin will donate one to a good cause through Neighbourly to go to someone who needs it most.

Recycle your phone with GiffGaff. 

If you’ve got an old phone knocking about or are about to upgrade, consider recycling it through GiffGaff. If it’s worth anything, you might earn yourself some cash - of which you can opt to donate a percentage to the Neighbourly Foundation.

Set the Neighbourly Foundation as your charity of choice with M&S Sparks.

Earlier this year we were excited to partner with M&S Sparks meaning that anyone with an M&S Sparks card can set the Neighbourly Foundation as their charity of choice. Then, for every purchase you make at M&S, a donation will be made.

Feed a family with Southern Co-op.

For those living in the South of England and wanting to keep your giving local, the Southern Co-op Feed a Family campaign is supporting local food banks with £200 micro-grants which can be used to purchase things like additional fridges and freezers to store food for emergency food parcels.

You can donate to the fund at the till of your local Southern Co-op or donate online by heading to the Feed a Family campaign page.

Buy your turkey from Aldi.

If you’re a fan of a roasted turkey on Christmas day, consider buying one from Aldi this year. For every fresh turkey purchased on the lead up to the big day, Aldi will donate £1 to the Neighbourly Foundation.

Donate to support good causes in your local area

After seeing the immense need from small local charities during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of the Neighbourly Community Fund grants, we set up a dedicated charity - the Neighbourly Foundation - to provide ongoing emergency relief to the good causes that make such a huge difference to our communities.

As well as donating via the campaigns listed above, you can still donate directly to the Foundation via the Neighbourly Community Fund.

You can also donate directly to the good causes that are most local to you. To find charities and community groups that are currently fundraising, use the Neighbourly Fundraising search function. Just pop in your postcode or town into the ‘Location’ box and hit enter. If you find one you’d like to donate to, don’t forget to tick the Gift Aid box.

Give to your local food bank

Sadly for many food banks across the UK, Christmas can be one of their busiest times of year - with increasing numbers of families having to choose between paying the bills and buying food.

The situation this year is only expected to get worse, with many more thousands of families affected by the economic impacts of the pandemic. With that, it’s more important than ever to support your local food bank so they can keep struggling families well fed throughout the winter season.

Luckily thousands of stores across the country - including Lidl, Aldi and Southern Co-op - now offer an easy means to donate essential long-life food items and festive treats via donation points - often at the store’s exits. 

Keep an eye out for the food donation baskets next time you pop out for your supermarket shop this winter, and donate if you can. 

To anyone that has already made a donation, supported one of our campaigns or plans to support local good causes in any way this Giving Tuesday, we’d like to say a huge thank you. Local good causes are at the heart of so many communities and every bit of support we can give them will enable them to help those who need it most this Christmas.

Danone trials Team Remote Volunteering to support local communities

23 November 2020
danone vounteer re,pte 1

Many who’ve worked in an office environment will be familiar with the concept of the ‘Team Building Day’. For Neighbourly’s partners, this is often the perfect opportunity for team volunteering. From revamping community centres to team litter picks, volunteering brings teams together in new ways, to build relationships and have a positive impact on the communities around them.

Yet with the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to keep teams separated and working from home, these kinds of activities just cannot be done in the same way.

Despite this, for Danone UK and Ireland, who switched to virtual volunteering earlier this year, teams have been coming together remotely to share their skills with the local causes that mean the most to them - right the way across the country.

Keen to inspire more people to get involved with volunteering remotely, we caught up with three Danone teams who’ve already tried it - along with the charities and community groups they helped. 

The Melissus Project

danone volunteers remote 4

Over in London, Danone’s Corporate Affairs Director Matt Elder and Head of Social Innovation & Sustainability Chris Hillman signed up to volunteer with The Melissus Project - a Manchester-based community interest company that supports people with housing issues and complex needs.

“We spent a hugely rewarding day working with two amazing ladies, Sandra and Amanda, from The Melissus Project.”, they told us.

“The charity compassionately supports vulnerable individuals in Manchester and creates safe spaces run by a dedicated team who care about improving the outcomes for people with very few resources. 

“They provide food and an opportunity to talk and get involved in programmes that build confidence, improve self esteem and develop practical skills to help individuals move from the pavement to paid work.”

melissus project

Sandra and Amanda have backgrounds in Social Care and Nursing and were looking for help to tell their story to help them secure additional funding to help more people. 

Matt added: “All we had to do was listen to their passionate story and create a presentation for them. What is a regular task for us - creating slides - is not for them and they were very grateful for our support.”

And an incredible impact they had too, as Sandra and Amanda explained: “Vulnerable people can feel dehumanized and invisible. We learned from experience that a little time to listen can make a big difference. 

"What a wonderful experience collaborating with Matt and Chris has been. To see them in action working their magic whilst following our discussion was joyous. They have made a world of difference to us.”

Cork ARC Cancer Support House

danone volunteers remote 3

From Danone’s Dublin office, Director of Corporate Affairs Ireland Claire MacEvilly, Senior Regulatory Affairs Manager Aileen Connolly, and Social Innovation & Sustainability Team's Cáit Lynch all teamed up to volunteer at Cork ARC cancer support house.

Cáit explained: “Cork ARC is a wonderful charity that provides a range of services and support to cancer patients and their families. All of their services are free of charge and rely mostly on donations and fundraising to keep running. Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, Cork ARC had to cancel most of their fundraising activities this year, so our team spent a day developing a proposal for various ‘lockdown friendly’ fundraising campaigns.”

"It was such a worthwhile experience”, Aileen added. “It was very sobering to think of the challenges charities face in terms of funding, especially now. The work Cork ARC does is inspiring. I hope they found our contributions on the day worthwhile and something they can use going forward. Thanks so much to Danone also for allowing us the time to do such valuable work."

Claire agreed: "It was great to think outside the day job, use skills to benefit others and work with my colleagues, while having a laugh."


Check out some of Cork ARC’s fundraising campaigning via their Facebook page here.

More Trees for Bath and North East Somerset 

danone volunteers remote 2

Meanwhile for Jemma Baker, Lewis Wallis and Amy Jane Valender from Danone’s Regulatory Affairs team, wanting to have a positive impact on their local environment was what got them involved in the More Trees for Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) project.

The community project was set up with the local authority, residents and businesses to make the region an even greener place to live, work and visit. Run entirely by volunteers, the project needed some help with its Community Tree Nurseries campaign this autumn which aims to encourage people to plant as many trees as possible in the region and beyond.

Jemma, Lewis and Amy came aboard in September to offer a full day of remote support on the campaign.

Jemma explained: “Our team had a lovely time helping the non for profit community group More Trees BANES, who work hard to protect and plant trees. We spent time researching avenues they could explore to raise their reach for volunteers and help them 'grow’. 

“As well as needing people to plant and grow the trees, they are looking for a wide range of support such as a project manager, volunteer coordinator, website content manager.”

more tree banes

Amy Jane said: "I had no idea that virtual volunteering could work so well! It was a really positive experience and it feels so good to give back to the community - more than ever in these uncertain times."

Lewis added: “Virtual volunteering was a great way to connect with colleagues whilst providing support for a good cause.”

Thanks to the Danone team’s for all their hard work volunteering and for sharing their experiences with us. You can find out more about Danone’s volunteering on the Danone One Planet One Health campaign page.

Lockdown Fundraising: How Cadent staff raised vital cash for local good causes

18 November 2020
cadent match fundraising

Those who’ve fundraised before will know it can be a challenging affair - with many turning to crazy marathons and wacky events to get their friends and family to part with their cash. 

For staff at the UK's largest gas distribution network Cadent, the Match Giving Programme run through their partnership with Neighbourly means that every penny raised has the opportunity to be doubled - making it much easier to support the little causes that are making a big difference in our communities.

In the midst of a second national lockdown and predictions of a very tough winter ahead, small charities need the hard work of fundraisers now more than ever before. 

Yet despite most of the traditional fundraising events being steadily cancelled due to coronavirus, Cadent team members have still been getting creative to make an impact this year. 

“I decided to climb the height of [Kilimanjaro] using the stairs”
cadent hannah pancreatic cancer

Like Control Engineer Hannah Myatt who raised an incredible £5,250 for  for Pancreatic Cancer UK, topped up by an additional £666 by Match-Giving, by walking the height of Kilimanjaro on her staircase.

Hannah completed the challenge in honour of her mum who has been battling Pancreatic Cancer for the last 7 years.

“I was due to climb the real Kilimanjaro in August however due to lockdown and coronavirus I had to find other ways to raise money", she tells us. 

"I decided to climb the height of the mountain using the stairs instead. Over 4 days I spent 13 hours walking up and down my stairs 2268 times.” 

You can find out more about Hannah's story and donate via her Just Giving page.

cadent gurpreet

During the peak of the first national lockdown, music fan Gurpreet Virk decided to make the most of his friends and colleagues being on social media more than usual, raising £1 for everyone who commented on his pop inspired keyboard recording - raising an impressive £836 for NHS Charities Together.

This was at a time when the charity was supporting thousands of NHS staff through an incredibly tough period in the early months of the pandemic. Match-giving meant that his donation was boosted by a further £400.

Check out Gupreet’s fundraising story and donation page.

cadent catherine and nick

Not everyone's fundraising plans were thwarted by Covid-19 this year though, so for those who are hoping to still get involved in a big event in the future, you might want to take a leaf out of Catherine Allen and Nick Cannon’s boots. 

“The money raised has helped fund our Dementia Advisors who are at the forefront of our services”

The pair raised £1678 - boosted by an extra £800 in match-giving - for Alzheimer’s Society. It was by no mean feat however, with the duo taking part in a 52km walk through the Peak District - with some warming beers in the pub to celebrate afterwards of course.

Take a look at Catherine and Nick’s fundraising page to find out more.

How fundraising makes a difference

During these incredibly challenging times, it’s important to know that every single penny raised makes a huge difference to the charities who benefit. 

Pancreatic Cancer is the tenth most common cancer in the UK, yet research on the disease receives just 1.4% of the total cancer research spend - so the charity really thrives off the hard work of fundraisers like Hannah.

“We can’t thank Hannah enough for the dedication, determination and passion she put into her fundraising over so many days” they said. 

“The money Hannah and all those who generously donated to her challenge have raised will help support people when they need us most and to continue the fight for new and better treatments for the disease by investing in the very best scientific research.”

For Alzheimer’s UK, Cadent’s main charity partner, the hard work of employees from across the Cadent family has meant that a collective £200,000 has been raised so far, which really goes to show how every effort adds up.

“The money raised has helped fund our Dementia Advisors who are at the forefront of our services”, they told us. “They are dementia experts, providing information, offering guidance and directly supporting people affected by dementia day in, and day out.”

Funds for the future

Cadent recognises the detrimental impact that Coronavirus has had on its communities and the charity sector as whole and has now increased its levels of Matched Giving between October and December so its employees can now benefit from four times the amount of additional funding for this period for any UK registered charity.

We’re inspired every day by the incredible efforts of fundraisers out there who’re pushing through the challenges of cancelled plans to raise cash for those in need. Stay tuned to see what the next round of fantastic fundraising efforts will bring.