Vulnerable families are pleading with supermarkets to do more to ensure they can get regular food deliveries.
Many say they are being forced to stay up into the small hours to try to secure a delivery spot as soon as they become available. Even then, they are not always successful, leaving them fearful they could run out of food.
Last week, Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, said he had been inundated with calls from vulnerable constituents unable to book delivery slots.
In demand: Vulnerable families are pleading with supermarkets to do more to ensure they can get regular food deliveries
He said: ‘My office has never dealt with so many heart-breaking cases, with scared, isolated and vulnerable residents struggling to receive food deliveries.’
Supermarkets and consumer experts are now urging people who are able to visit the shops to do so and save online delivery slots for those who need them most.
Christine Appleyard’s daughter, Evie, six, is on the Government’s vulnerable list due to complex health issues.
But Christine, Evie’s sole carer, is still struggling to place orders despite checking supermarket websites almost hourly.
After waiting up until midnight several nights in a row, Christine, 41, finally got a Tesco delivery last week. But she now has to wait two weeks for another.
She says: ‘I don’t have time to wait on hold for hours or stay up past midnight for a slot. I need to take care of my daughter. We are having to plan our meals very carefully to ensure supplies last.
‘I know other parents of severely disabled children are in the same situation. Supermarkets are not doing enough to ensure our families are not going without.’
Pensioners Patricia and Geoff Cravitz say they are having to rely on neighbours and volunteers to do their shopping because they cannot get a regular delivery slot.
How the big stores compare
Tesco has contacted 230,000 vulnerable customers to offer priority delivery slots.
If you have an NHS letter you can create an account online or call 0800 917 7359.
There are a total of 964,000 delivery slots available each week. Tesco will not say how many of these are reserved for vulnerable shoppers.
Sainsbury’s has contacted around 700,000 customers to offer priority slots.
If you are not one of them and have an NHS letter, call 0800 636 262.
It’s aiming to have 600,000 delivery slots a week, with thousands for those at risk.
Customers can also add up to £250 on to an online Volunteer Shopping Card (sainsburysgiftcard.co.uk) which can be emailed to someone shopping on their behalf.
Waitrose is delivering up to 100,000 orders a week, with 25 per cent of slots for vulnerable customers.
Its new service, Waitrose Rapid, will deliver up to 25 items within two hours. Some 40 per cent of these slots will be for priority customers.
Asda has emailed 70,000 vulnerable customers to offer them first access to delivery slots.
Shoppers can choose to have a repeat delivery of the same items.
Morrisons’ telephone service for vulnerable and elderly customers offers next-day delivery of 47 essential items, including milk, butter and eggs.
Bills can be paid on the doorstep with a debit or credit card.
Call 0345 611 6111 and choose option five. No proof of eligibility is required.
Aldi has launched a new service for vulnerable customers.
Food parcels of 22 essentials, such as tinned soups and dried pasta, can be ordered online (aldi.co.uk/food-parcels) for £24.99, including delivery.
However, this service is limited to one per week.
Iceland says it has contacted 79,000 vulnerable customers on the Government’s list to offer delivery slots.
New customers can register online to access these (iceland.co.uk).
The couple have been self-isolating at their home in Bournemouth for more than five weeks and have accounts with all the major supermarkets.
However, it was only by waiting up until 2am that they finally managed to book a Sainsbury’s delivery.
Patricia, 80, says: ‘It has been very hard work. Getting a slot becomes your life. Supermarkets should be offering different time slots for different categories of vulnerable people to give us all a chance.’
Patricia, a former social worker, is able to order up to ten items over the phone from her local Waitrose to be delivered the next day, as part of a scheme run by Bournemouth council.
When she last called she requested a Victoria sponge for her husband’s birthday and staff added complimentary flowers, a birthday card, candles and champagne.
Patricia says: ‘This service has provided such relief and staff really have gone the extra mile.
‘But I don’t want to bother the volunteers too much if I can just order online.’
Each supermarket has its own database of priority customers based on information it holds, such as from online accounts. The Government has also shared a list of extremely vulnerable people with all supermarkets so they can prioritise these customers.
In addition, the NHS has written to 1.3 million people who are most at risk of the coronavirus — this includes those who have had organ transplants or are undergoing chemotherapy, for example — and who are therefore eligible to receive more support.
If you have received a letter, visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable to register for extra help, such as with supermarket deliveries.
If you have not received one and consider yourself to be vulnerable, speak to your GP. Vulnerable people in Scotland, including those who are over 70, disabled, or unable to get online, can call 0800 111 4000 to get help accessing food and medicine.
Martyn James, from complaints website Resolver, says: ‘This should not be happening. The supermarkets and Government need to be prioritising vulnerable families.
‘People should not be ordering online if they can go to a supermarket to save the slots for those who need them.’
Source: Daily Mail – Articles