MORE than 150,000 Yorkshire care workers providing vital help through the Coronavirus crisis will be able to cut their shopping bill following a proposal from MP John Healey.

Mr Healey had the idea to extend membership of Company Shop – which is usually open NHS, emergency services and FMCG workers – to care staff and took the proposal directly to Company Shop Group’s founder and chairman, John Marren.

The Company Shop team were pleased to work with the MP and shortly afterwards confirmed they would extend their membership from today (Monday April 6) to care sector workers. The offer will be open to all care workers, from staff in residential homes to those doing home care visits.

Company Shop has seven superstores – including one at its head office in Tankersley, South Yorkshire – already providing discounts of up to 70 per cent on food and household products.

Mr Healey said: “This Coronavirus crisis is making us all see the hidden hardworkers, people who keep the elderly and vulnerable safe, well and fed every day and who have a vital role at this time with people isolating.

“Care workers are on the frontline just like NHS staff. They’re often poorly paid with many on zero hours contracts and some are seeing their hours reduced.

“I wanted to do this to recognise the essential work care workers are doing, to say thank you and to give them help with their family food costs.

“Company Shop does a great job in cutting down food waste, reducing shopping costs for key workers and supporting special schemes for families most in need.

“I’m grateful they’ve been open to this idea and put it into action so quickly.”

There are 153,000 care workers in Yorkshire and the Humber, with most – 115,000 – working for independent providers. One in four of those providing direct care is on a zero hours contract and sector average pay for this type of work in the independent sector is £8.33 per hour.

Company Shop Group is the UK’s largest redistributor of surplus food and household products.

It is scaling up operations during the Coronavirus crisis to give more support to key workers on the frontline and provide immediate access to food to those who need it most. It is calling for the support of the food and drink industry as it extends its reach to even more people.

Company Shop Group also supports people most in need, through its social enterprise Community Shop. Community Shop has stores in Goldthorpe and Athersley and has launched an emergency food box delivery programme to provide food for vulnerable communities.

John Marren, founder and chairman of Company Shop Group, said:

“We have always served a membership of NHS, emergency services and FMCG supply chain workers, and we are incredibly proud of the heroic job they are doing on the front-line. We are pleased to have been able to work closely with John Healey MP as we further extend our membership to care workers, who are playing a vital role to provide essential care across our region.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our incredible colleagues who are doing an amazing job every day to ensure that the shelves are stocked so that our members can continue to access the food and products they need, whilst helping to stretch family budgets, especially at this challenging time.”

Michelle Fisher, who works at Clarence House care home in Mexborough, said:

“This will be a big help and a morale boost.

“Care workers are often poorly paid and sometimes forgotten, and this is recognition for what we’re doing to look after people during this crisis, alongside our fantastic NHS nurses and doctors.”

Membership has been extended to care workers working for local authorities and private providers. They can apply for membership on the website.

Company Shop is doing all it can to ensure members can shop safely, implementing all measure advised by the Government including social distancing and two-metre markings on the floor, screens at checkouts and a restriction on the number of shoppers in store at one time.

Update 14 April

The Company Shop website has now been updated to reflect the extension of membership to care workers, and others, including employees of the Armed Forces, teachers and other community and support workers.

While you’re waiting for your membership, you can visit a store (with your work ID) and ask for a temporary day pass.