SPAR stores in England are to be the first convenience retailer to partner with Royal Voluntary Service on its NHS Volunteer Responders programme.

Over 750,000 people signed up to be an NHS Volunteer Responders and from this week Community Response Volunteers will be able to shop for the vulnerable person they are supporting at over 700 SPAR stores in England.

The NHS Volunteer Responders programme has been set up to support the NHS and the care sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Doctors, nurses, those working in local authorities and other professionals, are able to refer people to NHS Volunteer Responders.  The programme enables volunteers to support the vulnerable person via the GoodSam Responder app. 

As this move is a first for convenience retailing, volunteers can then use designated SPAR stores to shop.

SPAR’s three wholesalers in England, AF Blakemore & Son, Appleby Westward and James Hall & Co, have activated this service in the majority of company owned SPAR stores and within a number of independent SPAR stores. 

Louise Hoste, SPAR UK Managing Director, said: “We are very happy to partner with the RVS at this crucial time when they are coordinating the NHS Volunteer Responders programme. SPAR stores around the UK are doing all they can to support their local communities and this programme is another way in which we can help. Using their ID, volunteers on the programme are able to take the shopping list from a vulnerable person to a participating SPAR store, and know they can shop and pay. We hope to see the number of SPAR stores in England participating in this to increase and thousands of vulnerable people benefiting from this service.” 

Sam Ward, Director of Services and Deputy CEO of Royal Voluntary Service, said: “We are incredibly grateful to SPAR stores for adjusting their systems to enable our volunteers to shop for vulnerable people in their community.  Many people will rely on shopping support from our NHS Volunteer Responders and this payment solution will work well for our volunteers.”