Customers of The Cumberland can raise thousands of pounds for a charity supplying vital food to people in need, by voting at the AGM.
The building society is reminding its members of its Pledge for Votes scheme which sees £1 for every vote cast at the Annual General Meeting, given to charity.
Last year more than £18,000 was provided to children’s charity Barnardo’s.
This year The Cumberland will donate the money to FareShare, a charity which distributes surplus food to frontline organisations such as food banks.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a surge in demand, says Alasdair Jackson who helps to run FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria. He said demand in the region has increased by 50 per cent.
The charity has delivered the equivalent of 785,000 meals over the last 12 weeks, including 268,000 in Cumbria alone.
“The key for us over the next six to twelve months is keeping it in the centre of people’s thoughts and attention,” said Alasdair. “This issue of food poverty isn’t going to go away, and as more and more people will unfortunately end up unemployed at the end of this, I think we will see an even bigger increase in demand.”
Surplus food from sources such as supermarkets and food manufacturers is collected at FareShare warehouses and then distributed to charities and community groups such as food banks, community centres, women’s refuges, lunch clubs and school breakfast clubs.
Alasdair added: “We are not for profit. We simply exist to help people. The money from The Cumberland will enable us to get that food and take it to where it needs to go.”
Charlene Best works with the Glasgow and West of Scotland FareShare. “We have almost tripled our output each week during lockdown,” she said. “People have been furloughed or were on zero-hour contracts or have been made redundant, and so more people are struggling than before.”
In the past 12 weeks FareShare GWS has distributed the equivalent of 1.5 million meals compared with 457,000 in the same period last year.
“A lot of our charity members are finding people contacting them asking for emergency food,” said Charlene.
“We felt the impact of lockdown and the pandemic very quickly. It can be quite difficult knowing so many people are needing our support, but it’s great we are here and can help.”
The Cumberland’s Pledge for Votes funding will be shared between the two regional branches - FareShare Glasgow and West of Scotland, which covers Dumfries & Galloway, and FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria.
The Cumberland AGM will be held on July 21 and eligible members will be able to vote.
Phillip Ward, brand manager at The Cumberland, said: “Our priority is to keep our customers and our team safe, so we’re encouraging people not to attend our AGM in person this year. However, we very much want our members to vote, and they‘ll be able to do this online or by post as soon as they receive their voting documentation.
“Thanks to our link-up with FareShare, they will be making a difference to the lives of many people who are struggling right now.
“Eligible members will be receiving a letter from us soon which includes information on how to vote.”
Members can usually cast their votes at branches but this year because of the coronavirus restrictions, The Cumberland is only accepting votes online and by post.