Former prime minister Gordon Brown has joined forces with Comic Relief to launch an appeal to groups including big businesses to help the “growing needs” of families experiencing poverty.
Mr Brown will invite socially responsible firms and philanthropic foundations to join together in a “coalition of compassion” and donate goods and money to a service called Multibank, which helps families fighting poverty.
Two Multibanks have been established in Fife and Wigan, donating more than 1.5 million items to 150,000 families across Scotland and Greater Manchester.
At an event in London on Thursday, Comic Relief and online giant Amazon will offer to help expand the initiative, with a goal of supporting half a million families from six Multibanks by the end of 2024.
Mr Brown said: “We are now seeing poverty in Britain on a scale I never thought we’d see again.
“It is this winter crisis ahead that makes us appeal for emergency actions and a new social contract between companies and charities.
“Children cannot be made to pay in their life chances and from their very earliest years for the continuing cost-of-living crisis.
“The success of our Multibanks in Fife and Wigan shows big business can make substantial differences to families’ ability to care for their children, which is a benefit to us all in future.
“I am very grateful to Amazon for co-founding the ground-breaking Multibank model and helping to encourage other businesses to donate their products that would otherwise have gone to waste.
“I’m delighted to welcome Comic Relief to our coalition of compassion, helping us to lift even more families out of material poverty whilst at the same time helping reduce waste and promote recycling and reuse of products.
“I call on all companies to give what they can – surplus goods or money – to support this important initiative against poverty.
“We have a particular need for household cleaning and hygiene goods so that children don’t need to be sent to school unwashed and without clean teeth.”
Amazon UK country manager John Boumphrey said: “Our goal is to help as many families as possible by connecting surplus essentials from Amazon and other businesses with those who need it most.
“We’re incredibly proud of the impact the Multibanks in Fife and Wigan are having and we are committed to expand to six sites nationwide next year, but we need more donations.
“We’re calling for businesses to come on board and join our coalition of compassion – help us to ensure that no good product goes to waste, and no family goes without the basics they need.”
Samir Patel, chief executive of Comic Relief, said: “Families are in crisis across the country. The scale and severity of poverty is growing at a frightening rate, leaving millions struggling to get by and afford the basics to keep themselves and their children warm, clean, and healthy.
“The expansion of the Multibank initiative couldn’t come at a better time as the situation for many will only deteriorate over winter.
“We are proud to help take this much-needed initiative to the next level with a new dedicated Multibank Fund and establish these critical lifelines in more communities across the UK.
“Together we can ease the pressure and help make life better for those facing the toughest times at home.”