More than 1,000 people across the country have been invited to enjoy a festive feast hosted by Waitrose & Partners and John Lewis & Partners, as part of the retailers’ campaign to bring people together this Christmas.
Food redistribution charity, FareShare, has nominated more than 50 charities to take part, ranging from homeless hostels to lunch groups for the elderly.
Over the next two weeks the charities, the people they support and volunteers will come together to enjoy a Christmas dinner served by Partners from John Lewis and Waitrose. Some well-known faces will be giving a helping hand too, including sports personality Clare Balding and cricket star Jonathan Agnew.
The dinners will either be hosted in private dining rooms in John Lewis shops, or in the local charities’ dining spaces.
Stephen Cawley, Partner and Head of Corporate Responsibility at John Lewis & Partners, said: “We approached FareShare because we want to support the vital work that charities do in the communities where we have shops. Our Partners across the UK are really enthusiastic about being involved. We want to create special events which bring people together around the table to enjoy a memorable, festive feast, which they might not otherwise have.”
Caroline Silke, Partner and Social Impact Manager for Waitrose & Partners, said: “For many, Christmas is a time to get together with loved ones to celebrate. Yet for some, this can be the most difficult time of the year. Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the festive season, which is why we will be hosting these lunches to spread some Christmas cheer to those who deserve it most.”
Alyson Walsh, FareShare Commercial Director, added: “We know that 46 per cent of people receiving food from FareShare supported groups have gone without a proper meal in the last month, so we are thrilled to be working with both John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners and to provide these Festive Feasts and help more people feel part of the community. These Festive Feasts are a wonderful way to support the work happening in the communities in which they operate, and this specific campaign builds on the year-long work their shops do to work with local charities and meet local needs.”
In addition to the feasts, John Lewis and Waitrose are giving FareShare a £150,000 donation, which is equivalent to providing 600,000 meals. Partners from both retailers have also pledged to volunteer at FareShare Regional Centres during the Christmas period.
Waitrose shops will also continue to donate surplus food to charities at the end of each day through FareShare’s redistribution app, which links the shop to local groups in need. The supermarket has donated the equivalent of 1.5 million meals to those in need since 2017 and a further 10,000 meals are expected to be donated this December alone.
This year the John Lewis Foundation has been funding FareShare's warehouse and forklift truck training programme in Leeds which is designed to help beneficiaries find employment.
In addition, FareShare is one of three national causes which will receive a share of £25,000 through the Community Matters ‘green token’ scheme on Waitrose.com over Christmas. Customers will be given a virtual green token to vote for the cause they’d most like to support, with the donation then shared according to the proportion of the vote they receive.