British Gas will be working with Trussell Trust by encouraging its people to volunteer with a local food bank. The Trussell Trust is seeing three main challenges impacting food banks as a result of Coronavirus and British Gas will be working with it to address these:
- To prevent the spread of the virus food banks have moved to a system where they are delivering parcels to the doorsteps of the people that need them most, rather than encouraging groups of people to come together at a food bank centre. British Gas will be setting up local networks of engineers and employees to assist with an anticipated 50,000 deliveries a month.
- Collecting food donations and transporting them to local food banks has become increasingly difficult. To help ensure food supplies at food banks, British Gas staff can donate to food banks, and engineers can also pick up food from supermarkets and wholesalers.
- Food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network have more than 28,000 regular volunteers but many of these are over 70, and some have underlying health conditions. Food banks have asked any volunteers considered as ‘at risk’ to stay at home, leaving them needing more volunteers. British Gas will therefore be encouraging employees to volunteer with their local food bank.
British Gas is currently only attending emergency and essential visits including for vulnerable customers in order to manage demand in these challenging times and follow Government guidelines about non-essential contact. It also has robust safety procedures in place for contact with customers. It anticipates many of its people that will volunteer will be ones whose workloads have been lessened in the current crisis or those who can fit the volunteering work easily around their vital day job.
Matthew Bateman, Managing Director of Field Operations at British Gas, said:
“Our engineers, call centre and support teams are playing a crucial role in ensuring our customer’s homes are safe, warm and working and I’m so proud of the amazing work they are doing. Many of our people are already helping their communities by volunteering at food banks, getting shopping for vulnerable customers and even using their skills to make face masks to give to NHS workers! There are still so many of our people that want to do more to help those in need so by working with the Trussell Trust we can help get food and other essentials to those who really need it. We are in a unique position to help with our nationwide reach and with the third largest fleet in the UK.”
Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust said,
“As the coronavirus pandemic develops, we’re working closely with food banks to support them to continue providing vital emergency food to people who can’t afford the essentials in a safe way. Being able to deliver food bank parcels to people’s homes will really help us ensure everyone’s safety – but it’s a big change to the way food banks normally work. That’s why it’s so important to have the support of British Gas.
“Everyone should be able to afford their own food and we’ll be continuing our work to end the need for food banks, but right now more people than ever are likely to need a food bank’s help. This partnership will help us get donated food to food banks for packing, and then deliver those vital parcels to people who can’t afford food. We’re so grateful to British Gas for their support.”
British Gas has also been able to support its existing charity partner, Carers UK, after the charity has seen a 60% increase in call demand in recent weeks. Carers urgently need advice on care and social distancing, resources for remote caring and support with food and community services. So, for the next 12 weeks, British Gas is helping Carers UK to keep the helpline and email service running throughout the week, so that they can provide vital support and advice.