SPAR UK extends shopping support to national charities

June 17, 2020 IN THE CATEGORY: COVID-19, People, Responsible retailing

In April, SPAR UK and the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) under the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme introduced a shop and pay structure to ensure more vulnerable groups could receive support in doing their shopping. Following this success, over 700 SPAR stores in England and Wales are now also supporting volunteers of three additional national charities to help other vulnerable people. 

Recognising how difficult it can be to shop for older people, those who might need help in terms of accessibility or are blind or partially sighted, SPAR has provided a list of stores that can work with charities to help vulnerable customers who cannot get out to shop for themselves.

Expanding charity reach
As this move is a first for convenience retailing, along with RVS, volunteers are now working with Marie Curie, Parkinson’s UK, and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) who can use designated SPAR stores to shop for vulnerable people.

With the help of the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), SPAR UK has contacted several national charitable organisations to see how the convenience store chain could help those who are frightened or confused.

As a result, a number of independent SPAR stores and company-owned SPAR stores serviced by three of SPAR’s wholesalers in England and Wales, AF Blakemore & Son, Appleby Westward, and James Hall & Co, have extended its shop and pay service to include volunteers from other charities.

Louise Hoste, Managing Director of SPAR UK, said: “It is hugely important for those who are vulnerable to have access to food and deliveries. As our stores are situated in local communities, we are in an ideal position to actively promote how people can shop by using their volunteer network.”

“When we heard how much pressure these charities are under trying to deal with the huge increase in the number of enquiries they are receiving, we extended our help to allow their volunteer networks to shop with ease in our stores.”

By instigating useful payment processes to support volunteers in participating stores, the seven charities taking part are encouraging their volunteers to use their local SPAR stores for their shopping.

Access to essentials
“It’s unthinkable that someone today should feel helpless in their home and unable to have access to essential grocery items. Through the volunteer network, we hope this will ease the stress and anxiety among people with on-going health and care needs.

“We have worked hard at providing our stores with the right information to help those who need it most at this time. Where possible we have adapted our payment services to allow volunteers to shop in our stores,” Louise Hoste added.

SPAR stores have proven to be a lifeline for people who are extremely vulnerable or self-isolating and unable to get to the shops by providing orders for delivery.  To help shoppers who cannot visit stores, SPAR retailers have also introduced a telephone ordering service, telephone and collect or indeed a home delivery service in a number of stores.

Source: SPAR UK

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The UK became a member of SPAR in 1956 when a group of independent wholesalers was granted the SPAR licence by SPAR International. There are five regional partners in the UK with strategically placed Distribution Centres in each region. A central office, located in London, provides national marketing and buying services for the group and supports the development of the brand.

SPAR has led the convenience market in the UK for many years but has faced increasing competition. Always innovative, the five regional partners have continued to grow the brand. Throughout the UK, a combination of independently-owned licensed retailers and company-owned stores can be found, spanning forecourts, airports, train stations, city centres, and local neighbourhoods.

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