Free food, cheap food and food banks

There are places where you can get free or cheap food. You will not need a referral to use many local food banks and pantries.

You will need a referral to use Trussell Trust food banks.

Free food and food banks

Free school meals (GOV.UK)

Moving around the supermarket

Some supermarkets have:

  • wheelchairs
  • mobility scooters

All supermarkets should have trolleys that you can use with a wheelchair.

Contact your supermarket to find out.

Find your local ShopMobility centre

Quiet or relaxed shopping hours

Some supermarkets have quiet or relaxed shopping hours when they turn off music. They may also have lower lighting.

Check the supermarket website or contact them to find out.

Sunflower lanyard

You could try getting a sunflower lanyard. The lanyard shows other people that you:

  • have an invisible condition or impairment
  • might need support

You do not need a referral. You can:

  • get them free at some supermarkets
  • buy them for under £1 on the Hidden Disabilities website

Sunflower lanyard (Hidden Disabilities)

Finding volunteers

You can find volunteers to shop with you or for you by contacting:

You could also try to find support through local Facebook groups.

Before they shop for you

When asking a volunteer to shop for you, talk about:

  • how to pay
  • where to leave your shopping
  • writing a shopping list together and how much it should cost
  • food allergies
  • if you’re happy with substitute products
  • giving you a receipt afterwards


Some pharmacies offer free prescription delivery services. Some volunteers will collect prescriptions and medication for you. Ask a family member or friend if you do not feel comfortable with this.

Warning Keep your card and details safe

Do not give your bank card or card details to a volunteer. Use a more secure way of paying such as cash, cheque or a bank transfer.

Paying a volunteer


Pay a volunteer in cash after they drop off your shopping. Try to have the exact amount. You could give this to them or put it in an envelope somewhere safe for them to collect.

No cash?

Payout enables you to give someone you trust a unique barcode and let them get cash for you from a Post Office branch or bank. You do not need a Post Office Account. This is available to all banks, building societies and credit unions.

Payout (Post Office)

Bank transfer

If you cannot take cash out, transfer the amount directly to the volunteer’s bank account after they drop off your shopping. You can do this online or through your banking app using their sort code and account number.


PayPal allows you to pay someone online without swapping bank details. Use the volunteer’s email address or phone number to pay. Or they can give you a PayPal Me link for the amount.

Sign up with your bank details or the following cards:

  • Visa, Visa Delta or Visa Electron
  • Mastercard or Eurocard
  • Maestro
  • American Express

Sign up to PayPal for free (PayPal)

Paying by phone

Some voluntary organisations are using a password system so that people can pay for shopping by phone.

To do this, you need to give your volunteer a password or number. When they finish shopping, they can go to the customer service desk and call you. The service desk staff will confirm that your passwords or numbers match, and then take the payment from you over the phone.

Gift cards

Some supermarkets have gift cards:

You can buy gift cards online for a volunteer to use. Most shops will allow you to check the balance of the gift card online.

Carer's cards

Some banks provide a second bank card you can give to a volunteer. These include:

Contact your bank to see if they have similar cards.

Carer’s card accounts (MoneyHelper)


Some volunteers may accept cheques.

How to pay a neighbour or volunteer safely (MoneySavingExpert)

Food delivery

There are many ways to get food delivered to your door. Check the delivery charges.

Supermarkets and online shops

Box schemes

Ready meal deliveries

Contact your local authority and ask about their meals at home service.

Find your local authority (GOV.UK)

You can buy ready meal deliveries from:

Last reviewed by Scope on: 04/07/2023

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