A group of merchants has banded together to create Trades Against The Virus, to offer tradespeople a route to support the vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis.
Trades Against The Virus will use the extensive merchant network to help replenish stocks in food banks nationwide.
Branches large and small have already pledged their support for the scheme, which was the brainchild of Ray Stafford, MD of Williams & Co.
Ray appealed to his trade body, the Builders Merchants Federation, for help over the weekend to move the plan forward, and the response was immediate.
BMF merchants operate from more than 5,450 branches across the UK. Companies including Jewson, Travis Perkins, Buildbase and PTS are among those signing-up to the cause, ensuring the length and breadth of the UK is supported by the initiative.
All participating merchants will now act as drop-off points for their trade customers to bring store-cupboard basics, ready for transportation to a local foodbank.
Ray said: “The idea is to boost the stocks in the nation’s food banks during this time of crisis.
“Many food banks have already run out of items, and others are struggling to help their clients, who are among the most vulnerable in our society. Recent supermarket shortages are also adding to the pressure.
“The country needs help quickly and effectively. With thousands of stores across the nation, vans, drivers and a strong customer base, the UK’s network of builders’ merchants is well-placed to deliver a targeted approach, quickly and effectively.”
Ray and his team are directing those merchants taking part to their local food bank through the Trussell Trust website, or suggesting they draw on their own community knowledge to support facilities they know.
The merchants will then deliver the provisions, using whatever social distancing protocols the food banks recommend.
Ray added: “In my experience, tradespeople are incredibly generous and will want to do their bit in these difficult times. With ‘Trades Against The Virus’, we can unite and make an impact fast, to get the donations to people in need.”
John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “The unique nature of the BMF network, with so many sites across the UK, transportation capability and community-minded staff and customers, puts them in pole position to make a difference to those people most in need at this difficult time.
“The response has over the weekend has been overwhelming but it comes as no surprise that so many have chosen to support this campaign.”
The initiative is also being supported by Band of Builders, a charity set up by tradespeople to help members of the UK construction industry battling illness or injury. It is publicising the campaign to its 10,000 members.
John Newcomb concluded: “These are unprecedented times, but we can work together to pull through.”
A dedicated website is under construction and should be live soon at www.tradesagainstthevirus.org
The list of participating merchants (as of 9am on March 23rd 2020) is:
Williams & Co
Plumbing Trade Supplies
All About Gas (Leeds)
Castle Plumbing Supplies (South Wales)
City Plumbing Supplies
Hampshire Training and Assessments
Lords Builders Merchants (London)
MacDonalds Plumbing Supplies (Aberdeen)
Michael Pavis, Nottingham
MKM Builders Merchants
PlumbCity (Eastern England)
Plumbers M8 (Scotland)
Ultimate Discount Heating
Unique Plumbing Supplies (Hampshire)
Universal Heating Supplies (Southampton)
William Wilson (Edinburgh)