Trades against the virus is a campaign to boost the stocks of food in the nation’s food banks in preparation for the escalating public health crisis. Many foodbanks have already run out of food, and others are struggling to help their clients who are amongst the most vulnerable in our society.

Recent supermarket shortages are adding to the pressure.

The core idea is that merchants act as drop-off point, and use their considerable marketing power to encourage their customers to drop off store-cupboard basics for onward shipment to a local foodbank. If the merchant has the logistic capability, they might extend this to offering a collection service from donors or even a delivery service on behalf of their local foodbank.

Under normal circumstances we would be setting up a steering group and putting together a proper project plan. However, I don’t believe that we have the time to do that, as the country might go into lockdown at any moment, and the window of opportunity would be lost. Therefore I am suggesting that we each make our own plans and launch our own initiatives, either under the “Trades against the virus” banner, or as part of your own CSR initiatives. It really doesn’t matter who gets the credit!

This doesn’t have to be complicated. 

But it does have to be quick...

Here are the next steps that I am asking participants to take:

If you are a merchant

  • Brief your teams so that they know what to expect. Encourage them to lead by example by bringing in a few tins.
  • Get the message out to tradesmen via all your marketing channels encouraging donations. Its great to have pick up points, but the measure of the success or failure of this initiative is the volume of food that we can get to those who need it.
  • Locate your local food bank. You can do that via the Trussell Trust website, or simply through local knowledge. It doesn’t have to be a Trussell Trust bank.
  • Deliver the food to them using whatever social distancing protocols they recommend.
  • If you are offering a collection from donors or delivery to clients, then you should check your motor insurance policy. Our insurer added cover for this activity free of charge for the duration of the outbreak.

If you are someone who can influence merchants

  • Please get this briefing to as many people in your network as you can.
  • Raid your store cupboard and donate some food!

Participating merchants as of 14:30 Sunday 22nd March

  • Unique Plumbing Supplies, all branches, Hampshire.
  • MacDonalds Plumbing Supplies, Aberdeen
  • All About Gas, Leeds
  • Michael Pavis, Nottingham
  • Castle Plumbing Supplies, South Wales
  • PlumbCity, Eastern England
  • William Wilson, Edinburgh
  • Hampshire Training and Assessments, Havant
  • Plumbers M8, Scotland
  • MKM Builders merchants (all branches)
  • Buildbase (all branches)
  • City Plumbing Supplies (all branches)
  • PTS (All branches)
  • Universal Plumbing and Heating Supplies (Southampton)
  • And of course any of our Williams & Co branches

If you are a tradesman or woman, or someone who can influence them

  • Raid your store cupboard and drop off some much needed food to your nearest pick up point.
  • If you can encourage friends, neighbours and family to do the same – without compromising social distancing protocols – please do so. Perhaps you could offer a collection point in your street?
  • Use your social media connections to spread the word. This is all about numbers.
  • If your local merchant isn’t yet participating, then encourage them to do so. See “If you are a merchant” above.

See below for the list of the best items to donate:

  • Cereal
  • Soup
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Tinned Tomatoes / Pasta Sauce
  • Lentils, beans and pulses
  • Tinned Meat
  • Tinned Vegetables
  • Tea/coffee
  • Tinned fruit
  • Biscuits
  • UHT Milk
  • Fruit Juice

Alongside the standard food parcel, food bans try to provide some essential non-food items to adults and children in crises.

The list sets out what food ban generally need the most, but please always check with you local food bank before donating to see what supplies they are currently most in need of.

  • Toiletries deodorant, toilet paper, shower gel, shaving gel, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand wipes
  • Household items - laundry liquid detergent, laundry powder, washing up liquid
  • Feminine Products - sanitary towels and tampons
  • Baby Supplies - nappies, baby wipes and baby food.

Than you for doing what you can to help.

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