Activism

This year's John Lewis Christmas ad will shine a light on food poverty

The fight for free school meals has been one of the stories of the year and the issue will feature in the upcoming John Lewis Christmas ad

Christmas lights in November

It’s a heart-warming highlight of the festive calendar for many, and one of the few unlikely to be squandered by Covid-19 restrictions. 

And this year the John Lewis Christmas advert hopes to harness the good will of the nation in a campaign to raise £5m for struggling families.

Teaming up with food redistribution charity FareShare along with Home-Start UK, which helps parents who need support, the retail giant’s winter campaign will take cues from Marcus Rashford’s tireless efforts to tackle child food poverty

There are an estimated 4.2 million children living in poverty across the country, around nine in every class of 30 – a number believed to have soared since the Covid-19 outbreak pushed thousands more into hardship.

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The department store and Waitrose, owned by the same group, will also put £1m towards the cause and to connecting its shops with disadvantaged families in their local communities.

James Bailey, executive director of Waitrose & Partners, said: “This year has created even greater inequality in society with a catastrophic effect on some of the most vulnerable, and we are determined to play our part in addressing this. 

“Everyone has a right to nourishment and a safe, warm home and we believe that as a Partnership, we can be an enduring force for good, which lasts well beyond Christmas.”

John Lewis bosses estimate the appeal could benefit up to 100,000 families across the UK and hope to inspire a “spirit of kindness” reflecting the selflessness Brits have shown to help each other through the pandemic.

Pippa Wicks, executive director of John Lewis & Partners, said: “During 2020 we’ve seen some inspiring and heartwarming acts of kindness throughout our country and our communities. 

“Now we want to build on this spirit to create a legacy that extends well beyond Christmas. Together we can all make a big difference to the families who need our help most.”

The charities taking part in the campaign said working with a business like John Lewis would enable them to reach more people in need and said the partnership was an “exciting ambition” that could “transform the lives of thousands”.

Home-Start UK chief executive Peter Grigg said: “We have all seen first-hand how the pandemic is pushing families to the edge, especially those already facing challenges in their lives. Home-Start is there for families when they need us most and we have been overwhelmed by the kindness shown in our communities during the pandemic. But there is so much more to do.”

The John Lewis Christmas campaign launches later this month. The company is keeping the release date for its 2020 advert under wraps for now, but promises it will be fit for “a year like no other”. 

FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said “more people than ever” are “turning to local charities and community groups for support because they simply can’t afford the food they need”.

The demand for food has more than doubled at FareShare since lockdown in March, he added, meaning the campaign comes “at such a crucial time”.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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