Blakemore Retail Laceby Lodge

Bakemore drivers will deliver the products to four Royal Voluntary Service distribution centres across the UK

AF Blakemore is providing food, drink and essential items to frontline NHS workers and patients.

The Spar wholesaler has secured a contract with the Royal Voluntary Service to provide food and personal care products for 5,000 ‘help from hospital’ bags to patients returning home.

The bags will also be available to frontline NHS staff.

Items will include tea, coffee, milk, tuna, baked beans, soups, a wafer snack and soft drinks as well as a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap.

Blakemore drivers will deliver the products to four Royal Voluntary Service distribution centres across the UK for the charity to give to people in need via its volunteer network.

In addition, the business has partnered with a number of its customers and suppliers to deliver food and drink donated by partners such as Milk & More, PepsiCo, Lucozade and Fulfil to NHS workers across the UK.

This latest support to the NHS comes after the family-owned business joined fellow Spar wholesalers Appleby Westward and James Hall to be one of the first convenience store operators to be listed on the GoodSam Responder app, to which 750,000 volunteers have signed up.

Volunteers can take the shopping list from a vulnerable person to a participating Spar store, and using their ID can shop and pay.

“We are delighted to partner with Royal Voluntary Service, one of our key business partners, at this crucial time,” said AF Blakemore group marketing director Sarah Ellis. “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.”

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.”