Waitrose will be serving up Christmas lunch to elderly, homeless and vulnerable people this festive season.

Each of Waitrose’s 300 shops has been allocated a budget to support local Christmas lunch events. The supermarket has given staff volunteering time to help organise them.

“As a food business, we’re acutely aware of how important Christmas is to so many people. But for many it can be the loneliest time of the year,” said Waitrose community manager Tina Varns.

“This new campaign will complement the great work our shops are already doing in their local communities - and we’re excited about the difference it will make to so many people.”

In a separate initiative, Waitrose has teamed up with social business Catch 22 to offer a six-week work programme for eight young people in care in south west London.

They will be given work experience on the shop floor, visit the Waitrose distribution centre in Bracknell and receive training on CV writing, job search techniques and interview preparation.