Three charities announce five-year partnership with Tesco

The alliance between Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK and the retail giant will encourage shoppers to make healthier choices

Left to right: Gillespie, Lewis, Kumar and Askew
Left to right: Gillespie, Lewis, Kumar and Askew

Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK have announced a five-year partnership with the retail giant Tesco.

The partnership, called Little Helps for Healthier Living, has been established to reduce the risk of disease by promoting healthy eating.

The scheme will draw on the expertise of the three charities to encourage shoppers to make healthier choices and to develop Tesco’s workplace health programme for employees.

The three charities will be paid an undisclosed fee for their contributions, and will receive a share of the proceeds from staff fundraising efforts and donations from Tesco.

At a launch event in central London today, the charities laid out the link between the diseases their organisations focused on and lifestyle factors such as unhealthy eating and obesity.

Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive of CRUK, told Third Sector that, although there were aspirations for what could be achieved through fundraising, there were no fixed targets for how much money would be raised.

"I think the beauty of this is that it is about both the strategic agenda and raising money," he said.

"The charity sector needed to get more sophisticated in the way it thinks about its relationships with the commercial sector. Historically, charity partnerships with companies have been almost entirely focused around fundraising, but that is shifting and has been for a number of years.

"There’s a recognition that, yes, you can do the fundraising, but you can do more. I think we’ll see more of that."

The partnership had come about, Kumar said, when the existing three-year partnership between Tesco, Diabetes UK and BHF came to an end at the same time as CRUK was in talks about renewing its Race for Life partnership with Tesco. He said the move to combine the partnerships had largely been driven by Dave Lewis, chief executive of Tesco.

Speaking at the launch event, Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF, said: "All of us share a vision that this is much more than a partnership. It’s a movement that is about a much more health-conscious approach to food retailing."

He said the partnership had deliberately been designed to be flexible, and he hoped it would set an example for other organisations to emulate.

Organisations in the partnership pledged to share their findings and experiences with other charities and health organisations.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, described the partnership as ground-breaking, but said it would require trust and risk-taking to work.

"Do I know everything this partnership will return to us at this point?" he asked. "I don’t at all. Will there be some disappointments along the way? Almost certainly. Will there be some areas that go further than we thought? Definitely."

He told Third Sector: "It’s a different model and we don’t know what the extent and value of the opportunity that’s being offered to us will be. But we’ve worked with Tesco before and we know enough to be confident that it will make a really considerable contribution to our work."

He said communication would be a key part of the partnership, which had been designed to include annual reviews and twice-yearly opportunities for the leaders of all four organisations to meet and raise any issues.

The three charities would be able to pursue partnerships with other commercial organisations outside the food retailing industry, he said.

Lewis said he hoped the partnership would unlock "the energy, expertise and reach of our different organisations to develop little helps that make healthy differences across the whole country".

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