John Lewis Partnership announces new measures to support customers and the vulnerable

The John Lewis Partnership, has announced new measures to help its shops meet the needs of customers with a particular focus on the elderly and the vulnerable.

These include a £1million Community Support Fund to be distributed by Waitrose shops to local communities, and protected shopping time for the elderly and the vulnerable. The Partnership is also exploring offering online classes and advice from expert Partners to customers who are having to self-isolate at home. These could include craft classes and advice for expectant parents. 

Sharon White, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said; “At this time of national crisis, the John Lewis Partnership is wholeheartedly committed to ensuring we support customers and in particular the elderly and most vulnerable. Our commitment to contribute to the wellbeing of the communities we operate in has always been at the heart of our business.

“Partners have been outstanding, supporting each other and responding to the huge surge in demand at Waitrose. More than 2,100 John Lewis Partners are helping in Waitrose shops this month and supporting deliveries; I am truly grateful to everyone.”

A new Community Support Fund 

A £1m Community Support Fund will be available to communities across the UK to help those in need in their local communities.

Teams in each shop will work together with their communities to choose the best way to use the fund. Help could include setting up additional local delivery services to support the self-isolating, the vulnerable, the elderly and those looking after them; delivering boxes of staples to local care homes and community groups, and donating products to create care packages for customers to share with vulnerable neighbours. 

Focusing shops and operations on meeting primary needs 

From Friday,  in Waitrose supermarkets the elderly, the vulnerable and those who look after them will be able to take advantage of a prioritised and dedicated shopping hour. The dedicated hour will be the first opening hour of the shop.  Waitrose.com is also working on a way to support its vulnerable customers who need food delivered to them.

Waitrose has also taken the decision to close all Waitrose Cafes and rotisseries and to temporarily suspend making coffees. This will free up extra hours for Partners to keep shelves stocked with food and essential items. In some cases, branches will be closing early to give Partners time to restock the shelves.

From today, Waitrose is also taking new steps to ensure food is distributed fairly.  In addition to existing limits on some online items, there will be a limit of three for any specific grocery item, and a maximum of two packets of toilet roll per customer buying in shops*.  

Supporting isolated customers in their homes

Anticipating the feelings of loneliness and isolation customers may start to feel at home, John Lewis is exploring ways to offer its Partner led services remotely to customers in their homes. Expectant parents seeking important nursery advice for example could book an online session with a specialist nursery advisor to help them plan the key things to think about before their baby arrives. Other services could include wellbeing advice; craft and cookery classes provided by Partners online, or on one to one calls.

As well as this The John Lewis Partnership is joining forces with leading charities to boost support of the most vulnerable in society during the current crisis.

A donation of £75,000 will initially be given to each charity, including Age UK, FareShare and the Trussell Trust. The funding will be used for immediate activity in response to the coronavirus outbreak, giving vital help to those in local communities undergoing isolation and food insecurity. 

The Partnership is committed to working with the charities over the coming months to support them through the challenges caused by coronavirus, including identifying how Partnership resources can be best used to match charity need, for example through volunteering and product donations.

Earlier this week, the John Lewis Partnership also announced new measures to support customers, including the launch of a £1million Community Support Fund to help local communities along with a protected shopping hour for the elderly and vulnerable. The retailer also launched a support fund to aid Partners of the John Lewis Partnership who are facing additional costs as a result of the pandemic; such as childcare costs. Partners will also be offered free meals at work. 

Caroline Silke, Social Impact Manager for the John Lewis Partnership, said: “The John Lewis Partnership is committed to supporting those most in need in our local communities.  Increasing our support of these vital charities, so they can shore up their operations and plan for the uncertainty of the next few months, is critical. ”

Laurie Boult, Fundraising Director of Age UK, said: “This is a period of great anxiety for everyone, but especially for older people and their loved ones. Age UK is determined to be there for older people who need our help and especially for those who have no one else to turn to in this time of crisis. Thank you to the John Lewis Partnership for making sure we can respond to the growing needs and unprecedented demand we’re seeing.”

Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare, said: “This donation is a fantastic injection into the work which FareShare does up and down the country, supporting vulnerable people with food. At this time of COVID-19 crisis, the John Lewis Partnership is enabling FareShare to ensure that we’re meeting the needs of those most at risk and we’re delighted to be continuing our partnership together following the successful Community Festive Feasts project we began last year.”

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “We are incredibly grateful for the support of the John Lewis Partnership in this time of crisis. The coronavirus pandemic poses an unprecedented challenge and as it progresses, more people than ever may need help from food banks across our network. We know that together we can better support communities across the UK so we are truly grateful for this vital support. Please look at our website to find out more about food banks and coronavirus.”

The Partnership will also donate money to industry partners GroceryAid and retailTRUST.

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