March 7, 2021

Lidl, M&S, Aldi and Southern Co-op join forces with Neighbourly to fast-track support for vulnerable communities

Lidl, Aldi, Southern Co-op and M&S through its Sparks programme have partnered with the community investment platform Neighbourly to establish a new Foundation that will give local organisations providing vital support to vulnerable people instant access to emergency funds.

Using real-time data to asses where local need is greatest, the Neighbourly Foundation will deploy immediate micro-grants to thousands of trusted causes, so that critical help can be provided to communities battling with the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus crisis, which are expected to worsen with the additional pressures of winter.

With mounting poverty, hunger and mental health problems throughout the UK, local causes including foodbanks, domestic abuse charities and elderly care groups are facing increased demand for their services.

Extreme poverty in the UK is predicted to double by Christmas, alongside a 61% rise in food bank use.[1] The 15,000 community causes in Neighbourly’s network alone have seen a 106% increase in local need compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Despite the growing need, analysis by Pro Bono Economics suggests that only 36% of charities have been able to access Government funding, leaving many organisations struggling to provide the services that people are increasingly having to rely on.[2]

The Foundation has been established to ensure that good causes aren’t hamstrung by a lack of resources when their help is needed more than ever. Neighbourly and its business partners are encouraging more national companies to join them and help organisations working at a hyper-local level by contributing to the Neighbourly Foundation.

Steve Butterworth, CEO of Neighbourly, said:

“With communities across the UK under immense strain, we need Government and more big businesses to recognise the power of small, instant grants. Small amounts can make a big difference for local causes, who have proved themselves to be some of the most innovative through the pandemic, and we need to make every effort to ensure that all at-risk people get the help they need as we continue to respond to and recover from this crisis.

“UK charities face a massive funding gap, and without the brilliant support of big businesses since the start of the pandemic, many vulnerable people would have fallen through the cracks. But we need businesses to continue to step up, not step back. If we can get immediate support to existing local causes, we’ll go a long way to ensuring the resilience and recovery of our communities.”

Carmel McQuaid, Head of Sustainable Business at M&S, said:

“At M&S, we’re proud of the role we play in the communities we serve, from our store colleagues delivering for customers to the charitable causes we support. Our partnership with Neighbourly enables us to give back to our local communities with ongoing surplus food donations and our recent contribution to help the organisations that need it most. But we know our customers want to do their bit for local causes too, so we’re make it easier through our Sparks charity programme. With over 6,300 customers selecting the Neighbourly Foundation as their chosen charity, we can continue making a difference every time they shop with us.”

Holly Bramble, Southern Co-op’s Community and Campaign Co-ordinator, said:

“Our commitment to support our local communities is incredibly important to us and it’s more essential than ever that our funding goes to those who need it the most. Neighbourly enables us to do this. There are pockets of poverty in a number of areas where we have colleagues working in retail stores, funeral care and coffee branches. By working together with local causes, Neighbourly and its Foundation, we can help reduce the strain faced by so many families.”

The launch of the Neighbourly Foundation follows the success of Neighbourly’s Community Fund, set up in March as an immediate response to the crisis alongside Lidl, Aldi, M&S, Danone, Southern Co-op, Coca-Cola European Partners, Heineken and giffgaff. The Fund enabled £1.2 million worth of emergency £400 micro-grants to reach more than 3,000 causes, who in turn supported more than 1 million people.

A survey of Neighbourly’s community partners showed that 100% found the emergency Community Fund grants invaluable. 69% said the money helped provide comfort to isolated people, while 68% said it helped them look after people’s mental health.

There are more than 136,000 small charities in the UK, many of who have delivered lifesaving support to people in their areas – and yet UK charities face a £10.1 billion funding gap over the next six months.[3]

One of the recipients of the Neighbourly Community Fund was Jo Critch of women’s charity Feathers Futures in Great Yarmouth, who said:

“Neighbourly’s was the quickest grant to come through and was vital in enabling us to respond quickly to our increased demand. It may not seem like much money, but micro-grants like this really make a big difference.”

As well as offering a simple and swift way for vetted community causes to access funds, the Neighbourly Foundation provides businesses with a coordinated and transparent way to make an impact.

The Neighbourly Foundation is a charitable entity that can either distribute funds immediately to meet emergency needs or hold funds for donor-advised distribution. Regular impact reporting and updates through the Neighbourly platform will highlight where and how the money has been spent.

For more information about the Neighbourly Foundation, and to find out how you can register your interest for the future, please visit: