Colleagues from Blakemore Retail joined forces with the Worcestershire Homeless Appeal to serve up meals to some of Worcester city’s most vulnerable people.
Blakemore Retail colleagues, along with Community Affairs Officer Liz Blakemore, visited Worcester in April to support a street kitchen event in the city and launch the Worcestershire Homeless Appeal’s new food van.
The new van worth more than £5,000, which was purchased with fundraising support from Blakemore Retail and the company’s charitable trust, the Blakemore Foundation, served up 75 hot meals to the city’s homeless.
The good cause reached their fundraising target in February this year, with the van being launched on 14 April at Worcester’s weekly street kitchen.
Blakemore Retail’s relationship with the Worcestershire Homeless Appeal goes back to 2016 when Area Manager Donna Cooper encouraged SPAR stores in her area to support the good cause’s Christmas collection appeal.
The stores collected a variety of goods including food, drink, gloves, scarves, socks and toiletries from customers and colleagues and donated them to the disadvantaged, vulnerable and homeless. In addition to this, the company’s charitable trust the Blakemore Foundation match funded each store’s efforts up to £200.
After the massive success of the 2016 Christmas appeal, 15 Blakemore Retail SPAR stores across the West Midlands have taken part in subsequent Easter and Christmas collection appeals. The latest Easter appeal helped to raise goods worth £2,620, and secured a match fund grant of £1,570 from the Blakemore Foundation.
Since the partnership began in 2016, Blakemore Retail has raised a phenomenal £14,190 worth of goods for the charity, with the Blakemore Foundation providing further monetary support with £5,830 of match funding.
Donna commented: “What’s unique about supporting the Worcestershire Homeless Appeal is seeing where the donations that are collected in the stores go and being able to experience the positive impact they have on someone’s life.
“Having the opportunity to volunteer our own time to help out at the street kitchen has been priceless for both myself and my team members that have been involved. I am so proud of all of my team who have given up their time to help the cause and the relationships that continue to develop as a result.”
Community Affairs Officer Kate Senter commented: “It has been amazing to see the community partnership between Blakemore Retail and the Worcestershire Homeless Appeal grow so much in the last two years. The Blakemore Foundation has enabled each store involved to gain recognition for their community’s fundraising.
“The support from Blakemore Retail colleagues and the general public has been extremely heart-warming. The ongoing passion, enthusiasm and commitment has enabled the Worcestershire Homeless Appeal to extend their vital support to those in need even further.
“I would like to thank every single one of you that has helped to spread the word and make a donation to the Worcestershire Homeless Appeal.”
The Worcestershire Homeless Appeal said: “We thank Blakemore Retail and the Blakemore Foundation for their continued support; without the kind generosity of both we wouldn’t be able to help so many vulnerable and homeless families and individuals across Worcestershire and beyond.
“We also can’t thank enough the staff from the 15 SPAR stores, which are part of the Blakemore group, for their support; we are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of all the staff who give up their time to volunteer and help at the street kitchen.
“The van will allow us to get more hot meals to those who need them most in areas that currently don’t have this service or support. We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”
The charity takes part in the weekly street kitchens, organised by the Good Soil Trust, once a month, with colleagues from SPAR stores Droitwich, Hagley, Fernhill Heath and Kidderminster also volunteering their time and providing store goods on a monthly basis.