Covid-19: John Lewis explores digital services to tackle loneliness during self isolation

The John Lewis Partnership has today announced a raft of measures designed to protect and support vulnerable communities during the coronavirus outbreak. These include a £1 million Community Support Fund and protected shopping time for the elderly and vulnerable.

The retailer said it is exploring digital services including offering online sessions for customers who are self-isolating at home. These could include wellbeing, craft and cookery classes, as well as advice for expectant parents provided by experts. 

John Lewis said it wants to tackle the feelings of loneliness and isolation by looking at ways to offer these services remotely to customers in their homes by booking an online sessions with specialist or setting up one-to-one phone calls. 

Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, stated: “At this time of national crisis, the John Lewis Partnership is wholeheartedly committed to ensuring we support customers and in particular the elderly and most vulnerable. Our commitment to contribute to the wellbeing of the communities we operate in has always been at the heart of our business.”

The £1 million fund will be made available to Waitrose shops across the UK, with teams deciding the best way to spend it in their particular local community. Potential options include organising extra delivery services for those who are self-isolating.

A range of measures are aiming to ensure vital supplies remain available to people most in need. From Friday, Waitrose supermarkets will have a shopping hour dedicated to elderly and vulnerable people, which will be the first opening hour of the shop. Additionally, each customer has, from today, been restricted to a maximum of three specific grocery items and two packets of toilet roll. Meanwhile, all Waitrose cafes and rotisseries will be closed in order to make extra time available to staff to keep stores stocked with food and essential items.

“Partners have been outstanding, supporting each other and responding to the huge surge in demand at Waitrose. More than 2,100 John Lewis Partners are helping in Waitrose shops this month and supporting deliveries; I am truly grateful to everyone,” commented White.

The retailer is also taking steps to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus situation on its staff; a support fund is being set up for those facing an extra financial burden as a result of the crisis, such as childcare costs, and partners will be offered free meals at work.