A UK microgifting company has teamed up with the British Red Cross to create a new shopping order and delivery solution to allow their volunteers to shop for isolated people.
Huggg’s new shopping ordering and delivery solution is being used by the The British Red Cross, enabling their volunteers to shop for people who cannot rely on friends or family nearby to help them.
The family member, friend or individual can simply buy a digital supermarket voucher and fill out a shopping list online.
An alert will then be sent to The British Red Cross volunteer network to accept the call-out, do the shopping and deliver it to the person in a socially distanced, secure and cashless way, in line with government guidelines.
Any money left on the voucher is returned to the person to use at a later date. Huggg does not charge fees to the user or the charity.
In the space of a week, the UK-based start-up – which ordinarily enables corporate companies and individuals to send online gifts including coffees and cinema tickets – transformed its business to cater more than 1.28 million people who cannot visit a supermarket due to being in isolation. It has also facilitated voucher exchanges between schools and families that would normally qualify for free school meals.
Paul Wickers, Founder and CEO of Huggg, said: “When the government lockdown came into effect, our offerings at cinemas, coffee shops and other high street chains were naturally paused, but we realised the immediate possibility of doing good and using our platform for positive social impact.
“Initially, we set up voucher sharing which enabled schools to continue to provide free meals to families that would normally qualify. That’s when the British Red Cross got in touch. With so many people isolating at home and unable to get to the supermarket to do their shopping in a safe way, we knew we had to help. We’re proud to have teamed up with a global charity to directly support those who can’t rely on the help of others.”
Penny Norfolk, a user of Huggg’s system, commented: “[The service] was an answer to a prayer. A genuine lifesaver. I was so pleased to get the shopping, and it was wonderful to be able to choose my own food and get exactly what I wanted.
“It’s a relief not to have to rely on favours and getting things through in dribs and drabs. This service is really brilliant.”
Jon Pewtner, crisis response manager at the British Red Cross, said: “We know how difficult it is for some people to do a food shop at the moment. Not everyone has somebody nearby who can go along to the supermarket on their behalf.
“The Red Cross is here to help people in that situation. And it’s brilliant to be working with Huggg to support sheltered people in our communities. Their system is really fast, efficient and secure, and makes it so much easier for our volunteers to respond to a request for help.
“We also notice how much people appreciate being able to specify exactly what they want. The Huggg system helps bring dignity and compassion to a difficult situation.”
Available across the UK, shopping can be ordered and paid for using a simple web flow and card payment. A volunteer will be assigned within approximately 24 hours of the request being made, and can undertake a shopping trip at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer or Asda, with more supermarkets due to be announced soon.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the free Red Cross coronavirus support line on 0808 196 3651 to speak to a friendly British Red Cross volunteer.