Builders’ merchants unite to support the vulnerable during COVID-19 crisis

Ray Stafford is the managing director of Williams & Co

Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) members team up to offer a united front in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

‘Trades Against The Virus’ was set-up to give tradespeople a recognised route to support vulnerable people in need, using the extensive merchant network to help replenish stocks in food banks nationwide.

Branches pledged their support for the scheme, created by Ray Stafford, managing director of Williams & Co.

Ray appealed to the BMF for help over the weekend to move the plan forward, and the response was immediate.

Companies including Jewsons, Travis Perkins, Buildbase and PTS are among those signing-up to the cause, ensuring the length of breadth of the UK is supported by the initiative.

All the participating merchants will now act as drop-off points for their trade customers to bring store-cupboard basics, ready for transportation to a local foodbank.

Ray said: “The idea is to boost the stocks in the nation’s food banks during this time of crisis.

“Many food banks have already run out of items, and others are struggling to help their clients, who are among the most vulnerable in our society.

“With thousands of stores across the nation, vans, drivers and a strong customer base, the UK’s network of builders’ merchants is well-placed to deliver a targeted approach, quickly and effectively.”

Ray and his team are directing those merchants taking part to their local food bank through the Trussell Trust website, or suggesting they support facilities they know drawing on their own community knowledge.

The merchants will then deliver the provisions, using whatever social distancing protocols the food banks recommend.

John Newcomb, chief executive of the BMF, said: “The unique nature of the BMF network, with so many sites across the UK, transportation capability and community-minded staff and customers, puts them in pole position to make a difference to those people most in need at this difficult time.

“The response has over the weekend has been overwhelming but it comes as no surprise that so many have chosen to support this campaign.”

The initiative is also being supported by the Band of Builders, a charity set up by tradespeople to help members of the UK construction industry battling illness or injury.