Empowerment and Livelihoods

We operate in a number of communities – both nationally and globally.  What many of these communities have in common is that they can struggle with limited access to education, a skills gap and high levels of unemployment. They are also home to our Partners, customers, and suppliers.

We run numerous projects and initiatives to help empower and enhance the wellbeing of the people in these communities.  Projects involve education, supporting enterprise and employability, and promoting sustainable livelihoods.  Further information on how we are working to enhance community livelihoods in our supply chain can be found in our Human Rights report (PDF 3.6MB).

Rug weaving in India

John Lewis Foundation

The John Lewis Foundation was launched in 2010.  It funds projects based in our supplier communities overseas with a particular focus on India as a key sourcing country. Following a pilot in 2013 with Geosansar, the Foundation has committed to investing in further financial literacy training and access to bank savings accounts for factory workers in Delhi.  The aim of the project is to empower workers to plan and control their finances.

The Foundation also began a project in 2012 in conjunction with Care and Fair to build and establish a girl’s school in the rug weaving area of Uttar Pradesh, one of the poorest areas in India. The first stage was completed in July 2014 opening with 80 girls. The school is aimed at providing education to the children from the families of weavers. The school now supports 160 girls with the second year starting in July 2015.  In 2016 an impact assessment will be undertaken to measure the success of the Foundation’s investment. 

Waitrose foundation logo

Waitrose Foundation

In 2015 we celebrated ten years of the Waitrose Foundation.  This invests in our supply chain communities, positively impacting more than 100,000 people within our fresh produce supply chains. 

The Foundation is a partnership between Waitrose and the suppliers and growers who produce, pick and pack fresh produce.  This includes suppliers of citrus fruits, flowers and avocados in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.  When a farm's product is sold, each stage of the supply chain gives a percentage of its profit to the Foundation. This money is returned directly to the farming community that produced the product.  They decide how money is spent to support locally-led educational, social and healthcare projects.  Through this model neighbourhoods play a direct role in their own social development and future success, creating stronger communities and more sustainable supply chains for all involved. Find out more about how the Waitrose Foundation is supporting workers in our Human Rights report (PDF 3.6MB).

Mark Price visits a Foundation farm

At the same time, Waitrose and the Fairtrade Foundation announced a new partnership - the first of its kind between a retail business and the Fairtrade Foundation.  Together, we aim to go beyond certification to achieve greater social impact for growers in Waitrose's supply chains. Fairtrade and Waitrose are sharing best practice in community development, bringing more Waitrose Foundation and Fairtrade products to the market.  Our joint programme aims to address some of the systemic issues facing communities around the world.

The Fairtrade Foundation will also evaluate and validate the work of the Waitrose Foundation.  This is the first time the organisation will verify a third-party scheme.  Find out more on www.waitrose.com.

Providing Emergency Relief Through the British Red Cross


Over the past fifteen years, we have donated almost a million pounds to the British Red Cross.  Our money helps to support emergency relief efforts, including its response to the recent UK floods. In 2016 we became a member of the organisation’s Disaster Relief Alliance, broadening our support to help fund preparedness work.

Schoolchildren on the bringing schools to life programme

Supporting Young Carers and Care Leavers With Barnardo’s

Barnardo’s and John Lewis united this year to support young carers and care leavers.  We ran a number of fundraising activities in-branch as well as special merchandise sales.  In 2015, we raised more than £50,000 which will help fund the charity’s ongoing work – including staffing costs, extra support for young carers outside care duties and employment advice.

Find out more about the work of Barnardo’s supporting young carers and care leavers.

Bringing Skills to Life

John Lewis’ flagship education programme ‘Bringing Skills to Life’ is now in its third year. The number of schools, nurseries and children’s groups registered in the programme has doubled since we launched to over 3,000. We aim to equip and inspire children with the mind-sets and skills needed for creative thought and action. We provide curriculum resources as well as Partner time. Find out more at www.bringingskillstolife.co.uk.

Emma Blaikie winning employee volunteer of the year award

Flagship Volunteering Programme

The Golden Jubilee Trust is our flagship volunteering programme.  We give Partners the opportunity to volunteer full or part time with a UK registered charity for up to six months, on full pay.  Since it launched in 2000, Partners have dedicated 297,000* hours to over 700 charities.  These span causes such as youth education, care for people in need, environmental protection and the arts.

In 2015 we began to measure the impacts of the scheme on developing secondees’ skills back in the workplace as well as the impact on the charities involved. 

Emma Blaikie, Selling Assistant at John Lewis Edinburgh won the Scottish Business in the Community Employee Volunteer of the Year 2015 for her successful secondment to Bloodwise.  As well as raising money through her planning and execution of its Winter Walk, raising £9,000 for the charity, she devoted her time to highlighting its work.  'I got so much more out of it than I ever thought I would' says Emma.  'I grew in confidence and my efforts were recognised'. She has since become an ambassador for the charity.

For charities that would like to highlight a potential secondment opportunity to our Partners please download the Golden Jubilee Trust information leaflet for charities (PDF 3.5MB) for more information.

*We engaged KPMG LLP to undertake an independent limited assurance engagement, reporting to the Partnership, over selected information