SPAR UK supplies health workers and people in need with 5,000 ‘help from hospital’ bags

April 18, 2020 IN THE CATEGORY: COVID-19, Responsible retailing

SPAR UK partner A.F. Blakemore is working with the Royal Voluntary Service on several initiatives to help vulnerable people and NHS workers during the coronavirus crisis. The company has secured a contract with the Royal Voluntary Service to supply products for 5,000 ‘help from hospital’ bags. The bags will play a vital role in providing essentials to patients leaving hospital as well as keeping NHS staff fed at home. 

Products supplied include tea, coffee, milk, tuna, baked beans, soups, a wafer snack, and soft drinks as well as a toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap. These are being delivered to four Royal Voluntary Service distribution centres across the UK for the charity to distribute to people in need via their volunteer network.

Royal Voluntary Service is a national charity built on local volunteering. It gives support to people who need it in NHS hospitals and communities. A.F. Blakemore is also collaborating with customers, suppliers and Royal Voluntary Service to provide essential foods and refreshments to frontline workers in the NHS. 

The business is helping to deliver food and drink donated by partners such as Milk & More, Pepsi Co., Lucozade, Fulfil, and Walkers Snacks to NHS workers across the UK. 

Last week, SPAR UK became the first convenience food retailer to partner with Royal Voluntary Service to support the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme. 

The NHS Volunteer Responders programme has been set up to support the NHS and the care sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. More than 750,000 people have signed up to support vulnerable people via the GoodSAM Responder app. 

A.F. Blakemore has joined forces with fellow SPAR wholesalers Appleby Westward and James Hall & Co. to enable Community Response volunteers to shop for the vulnerable person they are supporting at over 700 SPAR stores in England. 

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.

“During the coronavirus crisis many of our SPAR stores have been prioritising home deliveries for those identified by the government as vulnerable, and the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme and ‘help from hospital’ bags are great ways that we can make even more of a difference”, A.F. Blakemore Group Marketing Director Sarah Ellis commented. 

A.F. Blakemore has been distributing food and drink to Royal Voluntary Service since April 2017 and supplies 180 of the charity’s hospital sites across Britain.

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.