John Lewis and Waitrose have pledged to continue their efforts to support families in need with a raft of initiatives designed to provide nutrition, warmth and comfort for the vulnerable over the third lockdown and beyond. 

The 2020 Christmas campaign had a message of kindness at its heart and raised over £3m for charities Home-Start and FareShare, with Partners, customers and communities all coming together to Give A Little Love.

Home-Start, which relies on a network of trained volunteers,  supported 10,000 families during the Christmas period - double the number they aimed to reach. They also saw an influx of applications from would-be volunteers as soon as the advert aired - with more than 1,000 people offering their help. Visits to their website were also up 353% when the campaign launched.

Similarly FareShare said the fund had helped them assist food banks and they had delivered the equivalent of four million meals to local families, schools providing food for students, refuges and a wide range of other organisations. They had 3,000 volunteer registrations, up 364% from 2019, and their website saw a 255% increase in visits when Give A Little Love began. 

Although the Christmas campaign finished at the end of December, the charities have confirmed that the need to support struggling families has never been greater. FareShare estimated that during the initial two months of the first lockdown, eight million people experienced food insecurity. Home-Start said they continue to see families facing isolation and struggling to provide basic needs such as heating and clothing. 

Partnership pledges another £2m

The current restrictions and ongoing economic impact of the pandemic will only exacerbate these hardships. With this in mind the Partnership has pledged to extend its support, pooling the expertise and passion of Partners, resources, networks and time to meet the specific needs of the most vulnerable in society, backed with a further donation of £2m. 

Initially the Partnership will take a closer look at its supply chain, exploring ways to ensure much needed goods, such as food, warm clothing, blankets, pillows and stationery can be diverted to families in need, in collaboration with Home-Start and FareShare. 

Pippa Wicks, Executive Director of John Lewis, said: “The aim of our Christmas campaign was to harness the spirit of kindness we saw in the first lockdown and there’s no doubt that we achieved this. But families in need are facing a whole new set of pressures.  Although Christmas is traditionally the time for giving, we believe we need to continue this spirit of kindness into the new year.”

James Bailey, Executive Director of Waitrose, added: “We are thrilled to have been able to make such a difference. As the impact of this cruel pandemic is felt more deeply across society, we know that now is not the time to take our foot off the pedal. We are hard at work with FareShare to see how we can even further supply food to those who are going hungry.” 

Peter Grigg, Chief Executive of Home-Start UK said: “Give a Little Love has been a galvanising force in inspiring pride and kindness and has raised really important funds for Home-Start’s work. However, families continue to struggle in lockdown with poverty and isolation and we all want to do even more to help right now. This critical next phase will ensure we can play our part in standing alongside families who are struggling and provide emotional and practical support with heating, clothing, and human interaction.”

Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive at FareShare, added: “Through this campaign, which raised vital funds, amplified messaging, created connections within communities, and gave a little love,  you have all helped us to access and distribute food to families in need. Unfortunately the current lockdown and the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic will continue to widen the gap of inequality so this continued support is more important than ever in the fight to help communities survive.”