SPAR UK partners with National Health Service Volunteer Responders programme

April 8, 2020 IN THE CATEGORY: COVID-19, People, Responsible retailing

SPAR UK stores in England are to be the first convenience retailer to partner with Royal Voluntary Service on its National Health Service (NHS) Volunteer Responders programme, which was set up to support the UK’s healthcare sector during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Over 750,000 people have already signed up to be an NHS Volunteer Responders. From this week, Community Response Volunteers will be able to shop for the vulnerable person they are supporting at over 700 SPAR stores in England.

Doctors, nurses, those working in local authorities and other professionals, are able to refer people to NHS Volunteer Responders. The programme enables volunteers to support the vulnerable person via the GoodSam Responder app.

As this move is a first for convenience retailing, volunteers can then use designated SPAR stores to shop. 

SPAR’s three wholesalers in England, AF Blakemore & Son, Appleby Westward and James Hall & Co, have activated this service in the majority of company-owned SPAR stores and within several independent SPAR stores. 

Louise Hoste, SPAR UK Managing Director, said: “We are very happy to partner with the RVS at this crucial time when they are coordinating the NHS Volunteer Responders programme. SPAR stores around the UK are doing all they can to support their local communities and this programme is another way in which we can help.” 

“Using their ID, volunteers on the programme are able to take the shopping list from a vulnerable person to a participating SPAR store and know they can shop and pay. We hope to see the number of SPAR stores in England participating in this to increase and thousands of vulnerable people benefiting from this service”, Louise Hoste said. 

Sam Ward, Director of Services and Deputy CEO of Royal Voluntary Service, said: “We are incredibly grateful to SPAR stores for adjusting their systems to enable our volunteers to shop for vulnerable people in their community. Many people will rely on shopping support from our NHS Volunteer Responders, and this payment solution will work well for our volunteers.”

Source: SPAR UK


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.