The supermarket retailer Morrisons has pledged to hire up to 500 charity shop staff whose premises have been closed because of the coronavirus.
It said it would also welcome staff from other charity shops who might be looking for temporary paid employment.
The retailer said the employees would help elderly and vulnerable people with their shopping and at checkouts, as well as taking items to food banks and other charities and replenishing items that were needed by the local community.
Morrisons said supermarkets had reported “unprecedented demand” and the move would help the most vulnerable people in the communities around its stores.
It said the people would work with its community champions, who already supported local charities and community groups.
Clic Sargent, which has 26 stores, has been Morrisons’ charity partner since 2017, while Marie Curie, which has 190 stores, has had collections for its Great Daffodil Appeal hosted in Morrisons’ supermarkets for the past four years.
Rachel Kirby-Rider, chief executive of Clic Sargent, said the offer from Morrisons would make a huge difference to the charity.
“We’re overwhelmed by the generosity of Morrisons,” she said. “This is a really scary time for charities financially and we need all the help we can get to make sure that our vital services for children and young people with cancer survive this crisis.”
Matthew Reed, chief executive of Marie Curie, said: “To see such swift and compassionate action from Morrisons to not only support our staff, but also to pool our resources to support the wider community, is truly overwhelming as we work together as part of the Covid-19 national response.”
David Potts, chief executive of Morrisons, said: “We know that this is a very challenging time for charities, and we want to do our bit to help.
“These highly valued colleagues will play a key role in helping Morrisons support the most vulnerable in the communities we serve.”