Microgifting platform team up with British Red Cross to create cashless volunteer shopping system for isolated people

The delivery solution is being rolled out by UK-based microgifting platform, Huggg, along with the British Red Cross, to support people who don’t have friends or family nearby to help them get the supplies they need.

With measures remaining in place to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, 1.28 million people remain shielded and with limited access to supermarket delivery slots.

A new shopping ordering and delivery solution created by Huggg, is being used by The British Red Cross to enable their volunteers to shop for people who cannot rely on friends or family nearby to help them.

A family member, friend or individual can simply buy a digital supermarket voucher and fill out a shopping list online.

Once bought, an alert is then 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 as Huggg does not charge fees to the user or the charity.

Paul Wickers, Founder and CEO of Huggg said many of the platform’s operations were paused when the government lockdown came into effect, but realised the “immediate possibility of doing good” and using the platform for a “positive social impact”.

Initially, Huggg set up voucher sharing which enabled schools to continue to provide free meals to families that would normally qualify, but they wanted to do more.

“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,” he said.

Huggg has also facilitated voucher exchanges between schools and families that would normally qualify for free school meals. (Huggg)

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.

One user of the system , Penny Norfolk, said: “[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.”

The system is available across the UK, and shopping can be ordered and paid for using a simple web flow and card payment.

Approximately 24 hours after a request is made, a volunteer is assigned and can undertake a shopping trip at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer or Asda, with more supermarkets due to be announced soon.

Jon Pewtner, crisis response manager at the British Red Cross said it will help to bring “dignity and compassion” to a “difficult” situation.

He added: “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. 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.

“People appreciate being able to specify exactly what they want.”

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the free Red Cross coronavirus support line on 0808 196 3651 to speak to a friendly British Red Cross volunteer.

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