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Coronavirus: Asda and Marks & Spencer launch contactless 'volunteer card' to help people self-isolating

'It is amazing to see so many volunteers giving their time to help others', says Asda boss

Sarah Young
Saturday 04 April 2020 16:35 BST
Older people enjoy dedicated shopping sessions at supermarkets

Asda and Marks & Spencer have launched volunteer shopping cards to enable the elderly, vulnerable and those self-isolating to have their shopping collected by volunteers safely and securely.

In response to the number of people having to rely on friends, neighbours and NHS volunteers to get their groceries for them, the two retailers have launched dedicated e-cards online, which allow self-isolating shoppers to buy a voucher which they can give to someone else to use on their behalf in store.

The scheme has been designed to create a “contact free” and safe way for people to provide funds to those shopping on their behalf and gives customers confidence that they do not need to share bank or card details.

The new cards can be purchased online with Asda’s version able to be loaded with up to £150 worth of credit. Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer’s “We’re All In This Together” card can be topped up with any amount between £10 and £500, with balances accessible for 24 months.

From today, Asda customers can go to to sign up, where they will then be able to buy a voucher, ready for use. The customer or their volunteer will then receive a barcode via email that can be used to pay for the shopping.

Alternatively, the Marks & Spencer card is purchased in the same way as an e-gift card and can be used either online or directly at the checkout using a unique barcode.

Roger Burnley, CEO and president of Asda, said: “We are continuing to work around the clock to look for new ways to support communities through Covid-19.

“We are working with DEFRA on ensuring the most vulnerable in society have access to food, as well as encouraging those who can shop in stores to do so – so that we can focus our growing online capacity on those who do need to stay indoors.

“We know that many people are relying on others in this time of need, and it is amazing to see how the country has come together and so many volunteers are giving their time to help others, so we wanted to help make it easier for them with this simple payment solution.”

The cards are just one of the latest measures being taken by supermarkets across the country to ensure people are able to buy essential food and household items with ease amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Several supermarkets have declared they will be altering their opening hours in light of the pandemic, with dedicated shopping times for the elderly and NHS workers.

In order to make sure there is enough food to go around, some supermarkets, including Asda and Sainsbury’s, have also started restricting the number of items people can buy in one go.

Elsewhere supermarkets, including Waitrose and Morrisons, have introduced several measures to ensure customers and staff carry out social distancing.

These include installing clear plastic screens and floor markers at checkouts, and encouraging customers to avoid using cash where possible, requesting that they opt for contactless forms of payment, using credit cards, Apple Pay or Android Pay.

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