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Neighbourly Foundation launches to provide sustainable emergency support to local community causes

23 October 2020
neighbourly foundation

As the most vulnerable in our communities face ongoing hardship as the pandemic progresses, we’ve been preparing for ways we can offer continued support by launching the Neighbourly Foundation - a dedicated charitable arm of Neighbourly with a vision to provide a permanent means to respond to emergency need in our local communities. 

Partnering with us on the launch of the Foundation are Lidl, Aldi, Southern Co-op and M&S through its Sparks programme, all of whom made generous donations to the Neighbourly Community Fund at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This saw us distribute £1.2M in emergency funding to over 3,100 local causes who have been keeping people fed, connected and cared for during the toughest of times.

We’re proud to partner with businesses like these, which are recognising the need to support local communities and fight for the causes that keep our most vulnerable healthy, happy and safe.

For many good causes, the future continues to look increasingly uncertain. With government grants accessed by just 36% of charities and demand for support continuing to skyrocket, we recognise that there’s a need for instant financial grants to support the grassroots organisations that increasing numbers people rely on.

With real-time data coming through from our 15,000 strong community of causes, along with a newly designed grant-making feature built directly into the platform, launching the Neighbourly Foundation puts us in a unique position to be able to respond quickly to emergency need at a hyper-local level.

Community Fund Impact

The Community Fund has proved that quickly deployed micro-grants can make all the difference when it comes to keeping communities afloat - with the response from recipients showing just how essential a longer term solution to future emergencies is. 

“Micro-grants like this really make a big difference”

Recipients of the Community Fund grants estimated that the money helped them support around 340 people on average - over 1 million people in total - all the while facing an unprecedented rise in demand and uncertain future. 


Where some other forms of support were slower to reach small charities and community causes, particularly during the first few months of the pandemic, the Neighbourly Community Fund acted as a stop-gap, enabling causes to provide for the most vulnerable and marginalised residents, ensuring that no one was left behind.

One of the recipients of the Neighbourly Community Fund was Jo Critch of women’s charity Feathers Futures in Great Yarmouth, who said: “Neighbourly’s was the quickest grant to come through and was vital in enabling us to respond quickly to our increased demand. It may not seem like much money, but micro-grants like this really make a big difference.” 

For the majority (61%) of causes in receipt of the community fund grant, purchasing food to make up emergency food parcels was a top priority. In addition, two in every five causes used some of the funds to purchase basic essentials (such as toiletries for care packages), with one fifth using some of the money to pay for PPE.


As well as reducing the level of financial vulnerability charities experienced when faced with emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic, it has highlighted their importance in being able to adapt to the needs of local people.


The fund touched all ages, genders and ethnicities across the country, with charities able to deliver a range of different support mechanisms, tailored to their unique communities.

With many struggling with stress and loneliness during the nationwide lockdown, the funding allowed 69% of causes to provide comfort to isolated people and 68% to support people with their mental health.


The fund also allowed a large percentage of causes to help people directly in their homes, reach new people in need, help people feel more connected to others, look after people’s physical health and to deliver a speedy emergency response - such as hot meal delivery for the elderly and homeless, food parcels for families in need and provision of activities and tech to allow people to communicate with others.

Future impact 

Here at Neighbourly, we see the incredible impact causes can have on local communities on a day-to-day basis, and are continually amazed at just how much they can do on shoestring budgets, leaving no-one behind. So it’s so important that we remain committed to supporting them through the toughest of times. 

Commenting on the new partnership. Carmel McQuaid, Head of Sustainable Business at M&S, told us: “At M&S, we’re proud of the role we play in the communities we serve, from our store colleagues delivering for customers to the charitable causes we support.

"Our partnership with Neighbourly enables us to give back to our local communities with ongoing surplus food donations and our recent contribution to help the organisations that need it most. But we know our customers want to do their bit for local causes too, so we’re make it easier through our Sparks charity programme. With over 6,300 customers selecting the Neighbourly Foundation as their chosen charity, we can continue making a difference every time they shop with us.”

Holly Bramble, Southern Co-op's Community and Campaign Coordinator, added: "Our commitment to support our local communities is incredibly important to us and it's more essential than ever that our funding goes to those who need it the most. Neighbourly enables us to do this. There are pockets of poverty in a number of areas where we have colleagues working in retail stores, funeral care and coffee branches.

"By working together with local causes, Neighbourly and its Foundation, we can help reduce the strain faced by so many families." 

The Foundation has been established to ensure that good causes aren’t hamstrung by a lack of resources when their help is needed more than ever. This is why we and our partners are urging other organisations to support the Foundation in providing the essential funds charities need on the ground, to keep our communities afloat.

Neighbourly CEO listed as top 100 Meaningful Business Leader for 2020

20 October 2020
meaningful business 100

Here at Neighbourly, our focus is on helping businesses to make real and meaningful contributions to their local communities - with the ultimate goal of creating a greener, fairer and more sustainable future.

So we’re honored to announce that Neighbourly CEO Steve Butterworth has been included in this year’s Meaningful Business 100 list for 2020 - a global platform for leaders combining profit and purpose.

“Meaningful leadership is about bringing people together who are passionate about making a difference.”

The Meaningful Business list is devoted to creating a unified platform for leaders around the globe to collaborate and share knowledge in order to amplify their social impact in support of the UN 2030 agenda. This includes the 17 sustainable development goals that gear us toward a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.

MB100 was curated by an expert panel of 16 judges, following a global nomination process. The platform received over 500 nominations from 70 countries, with each one scored across 5 key areas: Impact, Leadership, Innovation, Durability and Scope. 

The 100 business leaders include corporate CEOs, entrepreneurs, micro-entrepreneurs, sustainability leaders, functional heads and impact investors from 34 countries. Industries that dominate the list include agriculture, education, healthcare and technology.

Steve’s inclusion in the list further demonstrates Neighbourly’s collective commitment to helping businesses become a force for good, strengthening community ties and allowing no one to get left behind.

Commenting on the accolade, Steve adds: “For me, meaningful leadership is not about one single person fighting for what they believe in, it’s about bringing together multiple voices and people with experience at all levels who are passionate about making a difference.

“I’m incredibly proud of the Neighbourly team and all the work they do to grow the platform. With each working day we are adding to our 15,000 strong community of local good causes supported by an increasing number of businesses that see the amazing worth that comes with supporting their communities and valuing purpose over profit.”

Neighbourly receives accreditation to the Good Business Charter

12 October 2020
good business charter

Neighbourly is delighted to announce it has joined a community of forward-thinking companies in signing up to the Good Business Charter (GBC), an accreditation that seeks to raise the bar on business practices for employees, tax, the environment, customers and suppliers.

As a company that puts ethical business practices at the heart of everything we do, we're proud to be accredited by the GBC. With a growing team, it's essential for us that all staff are well looked after both mentally and physically so that we are in the best place to ensure that our growth as a business is centred around long-term positive outcomes for society and the environment. 

This accreditation not only allows us to celebrate being a 'Good Business' but also being part of a community of employers that offer some of the highest standards of employment rights for all businesses to aspire to.

Purpose over profit

It has never been more important for businesses to gain trust and demonstrate responsibility. And at a time when people are caring more about who they work for and who they buy from, the Good Business Charter offers a straightforward accreditation which recognises organisations which prioritise and care for their employees, the environment, customers and suppliers, whilst also paying their taxes according to the spirit of the law. 

"Joining the Good Business Charter underscores our commitment to using business as a force for good"

Those accredited to the charter must commit to paying their staff the real Living Wage, ensure their business takes responsibility for reducing its impact on the environment, to increase diversity and equality, and source its products ethically, to name just a few.

Neighbourly COO Zoe Colosimo says: "As one of the founding B Corps in the UK and a signatory to the UN Global Compact, joining the Good Business Charter underscores our commitment to using business as a force for good , and that starts from the inside out.

“We believe businesses have a responsibility to look after their employees and consider the impact of business decisions on society and the environment. We’re proud to stand alongside other Good Business Charter members in encouraging more organisations to adopt better practices as set out by the charter, leading the way in making a commitment to a better future for all.”

Jenny Herrera, CEO of the Good Business Foundation adds: “Neighbourly does a fantastic job of enabling businesses to make a positive impact in their communities and we are thrilled that they have become a member of the Good Business Charter.”

“The Charter brings together 10 standards, most of which already exist, but in separate places. We have combined them to provide a coherent consolidated standard for organisations of all sizes in all sectors to aspire to. GBC accreditation proves that Neighbourly isn't just a great platform but is an organisation that cares for its employees, suppliers, customers and the environment."

Samsung employees to send 1000 Letters of Love

9 October 2020
samsung 1000 letters of love cover image

For millions of us, the recent UK-wide and local lockdowns have given us a sense of what it feels like to become more isolated. But as many start to return to interacting more, there are others who still face ongoing isolation and loneliness.

In response, Samsung, whose staff have previously been involved in a variety of face-to-face volunteering programmes, wanted to find a way to connect with their local communities safely.

With that, 1000 Letters of Love was born - a campaign to get Samsung employees writing to people who are linked with good causes on Neighbourly - such as residents in care homes, homeless shelters and social groups in their local communities.

The response has been heartwarming, with over 60 members of staff signing up to take the time to write to those in their local community who might be experiencing feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Samsung’s employee volunteers

samsung venecia

Already, kind employees have been putting pen to paper, such as Venecia Wong who was partnered with Tina, a resident at the Langley Haven Dementia Care Home just ten minutes drive from her home. 

Venecia told us: “I chose this cause because it’s both local and close to my heart. My grandmother also suffers from dementia so I can understand the heartbreak it brings. I just wanted to brighten up someone’s day.

“I’ve felt really happy throughout the whole process of being matched with Tina and feel really excited when I think about her receiving my letter.”

samsung charlie

Charlie Grant, another Samsung employee volunteer, has found the experience of writing to others so valuable that she has written three letters so far. She said: “I’m delighted and honoured to be taking part in the 1000 Letters of Love campaign. 

“I’ve already written two letters to two ladies who’d normally visit the United Anglo Carribean Society to socialise with their friends. However, during the pandemic they’ve been unable to do so and we know more and more that this pandemic has caused much loneliness and anxiety for people who are not able to reach out and see their friends as they normally do.

“So it was an absolute pleasure to be able to put pen to paper and reach out to someone to say hi, ask them how they were feeling and let them know that there are people out there that care.

“I was so overwhelmed by the feelings that writing these letters gave me that I also signed up to become a penpal to a lady at the Langley Haven Dementia Care Home. With that, I’m really looking forward to hearing back from my new friend.

“To my colleagues at Samsung, if you’ve not had the chance to do so, please reach out. It takes five minutes to put pen to paper and posting that letter is just the best thing to do at this time. Our world needs us and we all need each other.”

Penpal Partners

Surprise and delight are the two words most commonly heard by the recipients of the first wave of letters coming from Samsung volunteers.

samsung evelyn

Evelyn Murphy, a care home resident, used to write letters all the time and had a penpal in America, but had lost touch with others in recent years. She said: “I was surprised to receive a letter because these days nobody really writes letters. I found it particularly interesting to read because I know letter writing can be quite hard sometimes.

“It’s really nice to have someone writing to me as it’s difficult to be in a care home at the moment.

“I enjoy writing and always find something to write about, so now I have a penpal, I have a new interest again. I’m looking forward to receiving more letters and hope that we have many years of being pen pals to come.”

samsung martina

Fellow care home resident Martina, told us she’s always enjoyed writing and in the past had started writing her own children’s book. 

She added: “I had a very interesting letter from a lady who told me all about her life and the city she lives in which I enjoyed very much. The letter writing helps me a lot during the lockdown and I’m looking forward to getting a response. It’s just like meeting a new friend.”

Local community connection

For the Samsung employees, pen pal matches have been created through charities that are local to them, which offer support to older, vulnerable and isolated individuals. 1000 Letters of Love not only gives employees the chance to reach out to these individuals, but to know that their impact is felt in their local community.

Charities that have already taken part in the programme include the likes of United Anglo Carribean Society, MHA Communities and the Langley Haven Dementia Care Home.

samsung tania

Tania Jones, Manager at MHA Communities, explained: “Covid-19 totally dissipated our face-to-face services but we have been supporting our members with check-in telephone calls, weekly shopping and medication collection, online and telephone activities and our ‘busy bags’ which are full of activities to keep our members physically and mentally active.

“Samsung letters have really brightened the lives of our members by letting them know that other people are thinking about them.”

Letters of love

Throughout the next few months and beyond, Samsung employees will continue to send their first letters (for some, it will be their second or third) to their new pen pals, with the goal of reaching 1,000 letters sent.

It’s hoped that the 1,000 Letters of Love will help both employees and those in their local communities to feel more connected and less isolated as the months of uncertainty continue - spreading a little kindness in testing times.

To find out more about 1000 Letters of Love, check out Samsung’s campaign page on Neighbourly

If your organisation is interested in getting staff involved in remote volunteering programmes, such as letter writing, get in touch via our Remote Volunteering page.

Neighbourly joins 50 major signatories in support of Universal Credit increase

30 September 2020
keep the lifeline universal credit increase

In April this year, the government announced that there would be a temporary increase of £20 a week for those in receipt of Universal Credit - an absolute lifeline for those on already low incomes for whom the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could have otherwise left them unable to feed their families. 

But with no real commitment from the Government to keep this £20 uplift beyond April 2021, many are concerned that the drop in income could force hundreds of thousands of people into poverty overnight. 

“16 million people will be in households facing an overnight income loss equivalent to £1,040 a year”

That is why we, along with 50 other organisations including Citizens Advice, Lloyds Bank Foundation and The Trussell Trust, have signed a joint letter to call on the Chancellor to make the £20 a week increase to Universal Credit permanent and extend the same support to those on legacy benefits.

Together, the coalition wrote:

We welcomed the swift action you took at the start of the pandemic to implement this much needed investment. Falling incomes and rising costs throughout the pandemic have put families under immense financial pressure, but the £20 uplift has been a lifeline that has enabled many of them to keep their heads above water and has stopped us seeing a marked surge in poverty levels.

However, if the uplift ends in April 2021, this good work risks being undermined. Modelling by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation indicates that around 16 million people will be in households facing an overnight income loss equivalent to £1,040 a year, with those on the lowest incomes and families with children being hardest hit. 

At a stroke, 700,000 more people will be pulled into poverty, including 300,000 children, and 500,000 more of those already in poverty will be plunged into deep poverty (more than 50% below the poverty line). We are therefore urging you to make the uplift permanent and stop families being cut adrift whilst they need help to stay afloat.

Keep the Lifeline

The letter was sent following the Chancellor’s statement last week in which he outlined his Winter Economy Plan and acknowledged that many families will see job losses over the coming months. Even those whose jobs are protected through the Job Support Scheme will see income cuts. Despite this, there was no commitment to keeping this temporary Universal Credit uplift beyond April.

Here at Neighbourly, we’ve heard from hundreds of small charities and community groups who this year have seen steep increases in demand for support, including emergency food parcels for children and families. 

As more people face risks to their livelihoods, our social security system will have a key role in protecting families from poverty and in enabling people to grasp new opportunities as they become available.

Support for legacy claimants

The letter also emphasises the importance of extending this lifeline to claimants of legacy benefits who are currently excluded from the additional £20 a week of support.

Further, it is simply not right that those on legacy benefits, who are mostly sick or disabled people and carers, and so have been most at risk during this pandemic, have not been thrown an equivalent lifeline. We urge you to follow the advice of the Social Security Advisory Committee and support 1.5 million more people by applying an equivalent uplift to those on legacy benefits who have so far been excluded from increases.

“It’s only right to prioritise those hardest hit"

Commenting on the publication of the letter, Helen Barnard, Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation who coordinated the letter, said: “Today’s letter shows the overwhelming support that exists for this lifeline which is playing a critical role in helping many families keep their heads above water in extremely turbulent times. Building on existing cross-party support in Parliament, we are coming together to urge ministers not to cut social security at precisely the moment our country needs it most.

“It’s only right to prioritise those hardest hit, pulling families worst affected by the pandemic back from the brink. We are united in calling on the Chancellor to keep doing the right thing by making the uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extending it to those claiming legacy benefits.”

See the full letter and list of signatories on the Joseph Rowntree Website and support the campaign via the Twitter hashtag #KeepTheLifeline.

Aldi holiday kits to support 500 families this summer

13 August 2020
aldi holiday kits

This week we partnered with Aldi UK to support the distribution of 500 summer holiday kits to 10 small charities and community organisations across the UK.

All the charities involved in the scheme offer holiday hunger programmes to children and families during the summer, at a time when up to three million children are at risk of going hungry, so extra provision of both activities and healthy food supplies were key to the packs.

As well as games, activities and healthy recipe cards, the packs included Aldi vouchers so that families can purchase the ingredients to cook them, ensuring that the children have access to healthy, fresh food.

"I am loving seeing the smiles on the kids' faces"

With the games sponsored by Team GB and inspired by Team GB athletes, the packs will help children stay busy and active during the summer holidays too. 

aldi summer kits families

Karen Humble, Chair and Founder of Clifton Community and Family Support group told us: "We began distributing the Aldi packs this week and the families are loving them. Two of the family size kits have already gone out to two large families with five children in each. I feel like Santa in summer and am loving seeing the smiles on the kids' faces."

Pam Atwal (pictured above), the Designated Safeguarded and Community Lead at Oasis Community Hub Short Heath, added: “We’re seeing more and more families turning to us for support during the school holidays and Aldi’s Holiday Kits will help us provide the support these families and children need.”

Fritz Walleczek, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility at Aldi UK, said: “To help families across the UK, we have worked with our charity partner, Neighbourly and Team GB to create Holiday Kits that are designed to provide kids with something fun to do at home, as well as food vouchers and recipes to help out with the cost of a weekly shop.”

Aldi UK has already donated over 7.9 million meals to over 2,300 charities through the Neighbourly platform since early 2019 and we’re proud to be working with them on this new and important initiative, working together to tackle the holiday hunger and inequalities faced by children and families across the UK.

Neighbourly partners with the National Business Response Network to boost charitable support from businesses

7 August 2020

In response to the UK’s Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown in March, the National Business Response Network (NBRN) was launched by Business in the Community - a non-profit business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business.

Here at Neighbourly, with a platform of over 14,000 vetted local charities and community groups, we know the amazing impact businesses can make with their available funds, employee time, and surplus food and products, right the way across the country.

A response to need

The NBRN offers a way for charities to seek specific, often on-off, resources from businesses who are able to respond directly to charity requests. So far, more than 2,000 matches have been made across the UK through the network and we’re excited to share some of our success stories from the past few months.


Image credit: Cubbit Community House (https://twitter.com/CubittComHouse)

In June, Neighbourly worked with the NBRN to deliver Juicy Water from Innocent Drinks to Community Food Enterprise (CFE) in London with the logistics support of Brakes / Foodbuy.

In just 4 days, CFE worked with other charities and community organisations to distribute nearly 36,000 smoothie bottles to vulnerable people in East London. Recipients included foodbanks, schools, homeless hostels, sheltered housing, churches and many voluntary and community organisations that provide food bags to struggling communities as a response to Covid-19.

In response, CFE told us: "We truly appreciated your help in delivering this produce to us, allowing us to help residents in one of the poorest communities in England."

In addition, when United Utilities posted a surplus of bottled water through the National Business Response Network, we were able to match them up with a number of local small charities and community groups who were able to use and distribute it to those in need.


A force for good

Business in the Community’s Chief Executive, Amanda Mackenzie told us: “The contribution that businesses are making to support our most vulnerable communities is magnificent. Their offers of support through our National Business Response Network magnifies the impact of business giving – bringing the scale of a national business network to the doorsteps of our local communities. We could not get these resources where they need to be without the brilliant work of Neighbourly.”

“We know what local communities need as they battle the impact of Covid-19 on their towns and cities and we’re calling on businesses who want to offer support to contact us to make sure their support gets to the right place at the right time.”

Neighbourly CEO Steve Butterworth added: "As an organisation that's worked with a number of community focused businesses and global brands over several years, we know that relationships like those cultivated by NBRN have the power to transform local communities in the long term - so we're excited to see the kindling of these new connections light the fire for ongoing charitable impact in our local communities."

Community Survey Reveals Impact of Covid-19 on Small Charities

6 August 2020
community survey covid-19 header

The past six months has been a learning curve for charities, companies and organisations - and it’s not been easy.

Knowing that our business partners stand with us in working together to actively recognise the critical importance of grassroots level organisations during this time of crisis has been both humbling and incredibly promising for their futures..

Over the course of March and April, we launched our Community Fund in partnership with M&S, giffgaff, HEINEKEN, Coca-cola European Partners, Aldi, Southern Coop, Lidl and Nutricia (Danone) - raising over £1.2million.

This is being distributed in £400 microgrants across more than 3,000 of our network of vetted charities and good causes, impacting the 700,000+ people they support per week in their local communities. 

During the same time period, major publishers Penguin and Hachette UK donated a combined total of over 30,000 books, giffgaff and Doro partnered to donate 500 phones and free credit for isolated older people and combined food surplus donations from our partners M&S, Lidl, Aldi and Innocent reached over 6 million meals during the lockdown weeks alone.

As most of the country now starts to move out of lockdown, we need to maintain the momentum we’ve achieved together, in working towards a society that leaves no one behind.

A Community Voice

Our latest Community Survey* involved over 1,200 of the good causes in the Neighbourly community to identify both their strengths and their concerns and to get their collective voice heard - so we know exactly where efforts need to be directed in the coming months.

Of those who responded to our survey, the majority were at the very heart of their local community with 32% working in the area of ‘Community and Inclusion’ and 21% within ‘Food Provision’.

variety of organisation type

Impact of Covid-19

When the government announced the start of lockdown measures in March, businesses, families and communities all had to adapt at lightning speed. But for the many who were vulnerable, unwell, isolated or had little money or access to food, the need for support surged.

93% of small charities and good causes were impacted by the Covid economic crisis and rise in demand. Of that, one third described this impact as ‘severe’.

Our network of charities and causes report that they have now more than doubled the number of people they support each week, with the average number rising to an estimated 299 per organisation, per week.

surge in charity demand

With this incredible surge in demand it wasn’t long before charities, communities and teams of volunteers became the biggest innovators of all, working around the clock to get essential food, medicine and support to those in need.

social distancing affects on charities

Almost overnight, organisations and their volunteers were coming together to transform their services, with almost 75% completely remodelling and 46% forced to temporarily pause one or more of their usual services. 

We saw small charities embracing digital technology to stay in touch with service users, as well as developing their own hot meal and food parcel delivery services and finding clever ways to keep the most vulnerable in their communities both supported and safe.

Volunteering and Civic Spirit

At the start of the UK’s lockdown, a surge in volunteering and civic spirit was seen with thousands registering to offer support to both the NHS and local Covid response groups. With the theme of community suddenly at the forefront of the public’s mind, 6 in 10 of the charities we surveyed also reported having benefited from a rise in volunteering and civic spirit at this time.

However, with many lives now returning to some semblance of normality, some charities are concerned about the impact of this support dropping off. For example, 60% of the new volunteer recruits charities estimated were furloughed staff - many of whom will have already either faced the need to tackle personal unemployment or return to work.

Schemes such as our Remote Employee Volunteering programme launched in June and supported by businesses including The FA, Danone and Samsung, offers a solution to some of the essential adhoc and ongoing support many charities need - without the worries of social distancing.

But in order to ensure that schemes like this continue to have impact, charities need more companies to come onboard, offering their employees the means to use some of their time and talents to help small charities in their local communities.

Future Outlook

The majority (just under two thirds) of the small charities we surveyed are feeling positive about the future and their ability to continue for at least the next 6 months without needing to close any services.

The future of our small charities needs continued support however, to maintain both positivity and the practical resources required to continue to meet the level of need in their local communities in the longer term.

Continued Focus

As well as the changes small charities have seen, several key societal issues remain at the forefront of our communities.

Our survey asked small charities about their involvement and support of both black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and children and families struggling with holiday hunger this summer.

BAME support

Black and minority ethnic communities in the UK make up around 13% of the population, yet they are overrepresented in the most deprived neighbourhoods. On Neighbourly, BAME communities represent 25% of people supported across all small charities and community groups.

support for bame communities

Whilst local grassroots organisations are not and should not be the only solution to the discrimination faced by millions, financial donations and support can help to redress some of the imbalance - allowing charities to continue to support those in the BAME community who are most negatively affected. 

Small charities and community groups are part of an incredibly important network of campaigners who never tire. They are voices for the rights of BAME communities and fight to address the specific injustices faced on a personalised and localised level. 

Holiday Hunger

The UK is now well into its school summer holidays and, according to the government, around 1.3 million children should be receiving meal vouchers to help cover the free school meals they would’ve been getting during term time.

However, with 41 % of the charities we surveyed reporting involvement in holiday hunger provision (such as provision of holiday clubs with free meals or food parcels), there is clearly still a gap for many children who are not sufficiently covered by our current welfare system.

holiday hunger provision from charities

As we recently discussed in our report on the latest research from the House of Lords Select Committee, holiday food provision to children in the UK is a growing issue. A lack of regular and healthy nutrition can mean children on lower incomes lack the concentration and energy to learn, play and grow in line with their peers - deepening generational poverty in the process.

For charities, this need to focus on nutrition detracts from other areas of focus such as provision of additional education support, emotional and mental health support and more. Hunger is unfortunately just one dimension of the difficulties that individuals and families are facing and it is important that we take a holistic view of local community need, considering an individual’s need for nourishment and support beyond food. 

Build Back Together

Small charities can offer tailored services that meet the unique needs of their local communities in a way that nationwide programmes aren’t set up to do. This puts large businesses in a unique position to be able to offer support on a local scale, where impact is greatest.

Supporting small charities kick starts a positive feedback loop for both people and businesses in the local area, reducing issues often exacerbated by poverty and inequality. 

Small charities and local causes need more help now than ever before in order not only to survive but to thrive and transform local communities - positively impacting society from the inside out.

The businesses that we partner with are key to providing the specialist resources, time and funds to small charities that help make this happen. For us, they provide one of the biggest solutions to allow us to #BuildBackTogether.

If you're a business that's looking to support local communities or the Neighbourly Community Fund, click here to find out more about donating product surplus, volunteers and funds.

* The Community Survey was carried out between June and July 2020 and had 1,264 responses. All respondents represented small charities and community causes registered on the Neighbourly platform.

Holiday Heroes: the charities that are taking on holiday hunger

23 July 2020
holiday hunger

In the UK, 1.3 million children receive free school meals during term time. That’s just over 1 in every 10 children attending school in the UK.

However, when it comes to school holidays, our latest community survey indicated that around 40% of small charities provide holiday hunger relief to children and their families, with the average charity supporting around 85 children per week during the summer break. 

On the Neighbourly site alone, that adds up to around 5,600 charities supporting nearly half a million children every week.

Despite the government now pledging to support those in receipt of school meals during the summer with meal vouchers, it’s clear that there are still large gaps in our current system whereby many more children in need are being missed, and food is only one part of it.

Holiday Heroes

Here at Neighbourly, we know that some of the biggest community heroes are small charities and their hardworking volunteers that support these children by running essential school holiday programmes in the most deprived areas of the UK.

Often providing an easy-to-access service that’s tailored to the needs of their local communities - these charities are not only feeding children in need but providing activities and learning opportunities that parents and caregivers may be struggling to provide - taking a holistic view of community need by helping to support children’s and parent’s wider well-being.

To celebrate the charities supporting millions of children this summer, we’ve showcased three of these organisations to demonstrate the incredible impact they can have and why supporting them is essential.


holiday hunger catch leeds

CATCH and its volunteers are an inspiring team, whose work comprises so many incredible projects it’s hard to keep up. Based in Leeds, CATCH was set up by volunteers to improve their local area in Harehills - particularly by providing a safe space for the children and young people living there. 

Over the years CATCH has expanded hugely, now providing a community space, youth club, community farm, cafe and more. Throughout lockdown it has continued to engage and support young people in the local area, getting them involved and leading the way in everything from gardening and farming to helping at the food hub. Some have even been helping restore and convert an old bus that’s being transformed into a portable food bank for the local area.

Based in a deprived area, holiday hunger is something the charity is not unfamiliar with. In fact, they have estimated that around 70% of the young people they work with are affected. 

The additional holiday programmes they run to help keep these children and teens fuelled is therefore naturally intertwined with their day-to-day activities. And with so many wonderful young people volunteering, working hard, learning essential skills and having plenty of fun along the way, it’s easy to see how being well fed is absolutely essential.

Ibijoke Children’s Foundation UK 

holiday hunger ibijoke

For families struggling to afford to feed their children healthy, nutritious and filling meals in the school holidays, other essentials such as school uniforms, school trips and family outings can also be out of reach.

Ibijoke Foundation in Liverpool recognises the importance of ensuring that no kids miss out - not only with the food they need to grow and thrive but also on the experiences that enhance skills such as team building and practical learning beyond textbooks.

As well as providing healthy food and cooked meals, Ibijoke Children’s Centre also also runs its own weekly activities and bi-annual outings, plus extra education support such as homework clubs and maths tutoring. 

For Ibijoke Foundation and the children and families it supports, having access to good food on a regular basis is fuel for the many things needed to build a more equal society for all.

Venchie Children and Young People’s Project

holiday hunger venchie

Venchie is a non-profit community group that aims to help children in the local community of Craigmillar in Edinburgh at their own dedicated centre.

At Venchie, a team of volunteers run everything from breakfast clubs - picking 30 children from their homes and via the centre where they’re well fed and then dropped at school - to activities such as after school club and drama club. Their own in-house adventure playground makes them a popular place for children in the area to spend their time during their school holiday programmes too.

Keen to make sure no child has missed out on good food during the lockdown, Venchie came up with a unique solution to getting balanced meals into the community - via mini bus.

So, since March, they’ve been driving the Venchie mini bus full of supplies to local spots for families to collect a packed lunch along with some fresh fruit and veg. 

Funding Holiday Hunger Programmes 

As with many school summer programmes run by volunteers in our local communities, the pandemic has made it especially difficult to reach children needing the most help. 

Not all children and young people have regular internet access or access to smartphones that enable them to take part in virtual events or support sessions, and many community groups lack the funds and resources to make their summer programmes safe enough to invite children along in person.

Given the resources available and strain on small charities, it's incredible seeing organisations continue to do all they can to support children - even if it's as simple as a weekly food parcel.

Charities like these exist all over the UK and Ireland and regular donations and funding are essential to help keep their services running. That’s one of the reasons why we set up the Neighbourly Foundation and Community Fund - to make it easier to contribute directly to those looking after the health and happiness of the whole community.

We're also calling for businesses to donate a range of other products to benefit children and families this summer – including arts materials, puzzles, games or practical sports equipment.

In our recent survey of more than 1,000 community causes (including food banks, homelessness charities and community centres), 66% said they would benefit from children’s arts, craft and learning materials, with 58% saying the same for children’s toys and games, and 77% for kitchen and cooking items.

By donating other items to support the wider wellbeing of children and families, businesses can help struggling communities to get the sustenance and support they so urgently need.

New research highlights critical need to tackle food insecurity and holiday hunger

16 July 2020
food insecurity house of lords supermarket

The House of Lords Select Committee on Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment has released a report calling for the introduction of new policies to support the health and wellbeing of all through fair access to healthy food.

With their evidence coming from a wide range of expert sources, including some of Neighbourly’s own community research and feedback from thousands of charities using the platform, it’s no surprise that the report’s emphasis on spiralling rates of food insecurity across the UK are well in line with what community groups, schools and food banks have been telling us. 

As summarised in the report: “Significant numbers of people are unable to access the food they need, let alone access a healthy diet.”

The bigger picture

Estimations made by the UN suggests around 2.2 million people in the UK are severely food insecure. But with many millions more forced to choose between nutritious meals and paying their bills, the situation is likely much worse.

In our latest community survey carried out in June, charities told us that they’d seen the number of people seeking support since March more than double. With so many of the small charities we surveyed providing some sort of food relief during lockdown, the predictions quickly become alarming.

Yet without any UK-wide figures collected on those affected - and the causes - we’re left with the growing queues outside food banks as one of our only indicators of the need for change.

Whilst we can see that there is a huge problem, our government currently lacks the in-depth knowledge of the root causes which can inform the most efficient and considerate ways for the problem to be tackled.

Key recommendations

When looking specifically at food insecurity, the report’s key recommendations are:

  • To introduce detailed, routine and fully transparent monitoring of food insecurity in the UK - the findings of which can be used to inform socio-economic reforms in policy

  • Address problems around Universal Credit, particularly around the 5 week wait which, for many families, means they are left without enough money for food

  • To re-evaluate the affordability of Public Health England’s Eat Well Guide and factor its cost into welfare and benefit reform to ensure a healthy diet is affordable for all

  • Improve access to healthy food for school age children by reforming and expanding existing schemes - including Healthy Start vouchers, free school meals and holiday hunger programmes

Food to grow

house of lords holiday hunger

With school holidays now upon us, one of the most pressing on this list of recommendations is holiday hunger.

Although the government has now pledged to extend the free school meal vouchers introduced during lockdown to cover the summer, evidence from food banks suggests the current system is not enough.

Results from our survey suggest that at least 40% of Neighbourly causes are involved in holiday hunger programmes and that they are helping an average of 85 children per organisation every week during the school holidays.

Even if these suggested changes in policy are taken forward, they are unlikely to have an impact quickly enough for the millions of children in the UK who are living below the poverty line right now.

Supporting charities with better policies

Whilst charities are bearing the burden of the nation’s food crisis, providing support to them in the form of funding is integral to ensuring the country’s most vulnerable children are nourished with healthy food to carry them through the long summer break.  

Funds such as the Neighbourly Community Fund, which supports smaller grassroots charities, food banks and holiday hunger programmes, is one of the funds that has been helping to keep these local lifelines running. Seeing large corporate businesses invest in the needs of their local communities through donations to these funds has been a hugely positive shift that’s been all the more prominent during the pandemic.

As we begin to work together with more community-focused momentum, we need more socially minded businesses like these offering continued hope to the small charities which collectively make a huge impact.

Time will tell if new policies can start to tackle the issue of food insecurity in the UK. We look forward to a time when charities no longer need to be welfare firefighters, instead diverting their attention - and funds - to the things that matter the most to them and their local communities.