Community approaches to COVID-19 during and since the lockdown


The Covid-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for the UK and has had a worrying impact on communities across the country. The UK Spirits industry felt, from the very start of the pandemic, that we had a strong role to play to support our communities during such a time of need.

Distilleries of all shapes and sizes answered the call as the pandemic began to take hold in Britain. Our distilleries are not just businesses, they are families, run by people who take pride in both their products and serving their communities.

These efforts have not been concentrated in just one place, or by one company, support has come from every corner of the United Kingdom. From the Scottish Highlands to the South East, our members have been supporting UK public services, producing hand sanitiser, donating millions to back the hospitality trade and supporting the communities in which we operate.

However, all communities face different challenges, and one size doesn’t fit all. Many members have taken their own approaches, using their own unique knowledge of their areas and capabilities, to best support residents.

Hand sanitiser in Yorkshire and the Scottish Highlands

In March, Cooper King Distillery in Yorkshire switched production from gin to hand sanitiser to help tackle the spread of Covid-19. Responding the national shortage of hand sanitiser, the distillery moved quickly to help out.

In only five days, Cooper King researched, developed and produced the first batch of their hand sanitiser. First, they reached out to support their local community, but as demand grew, they increased production and donated to over 60 organisations across the UK, including care homes and doctors’ surgeries.

This approach has been adopted by many other distilleries like Badachro, who created 65% alcohol hand sanitisers to support local care firms, food banks, charities and front-line services in the Scottish Highlands. These distilleries have been the recent beneficiary of the UK Spirits Alliance Community Awards, which recognise the contribution that so many have made to support the UK during this difficult time.

Community Support in Dorset and Aberdeen

But it isn’t just hand sanitiser, distilleries have been working non-stop to support their communities in other ways. Fordington Gin has built on its community ethos to support the most vulnerable in their local Dorset community by working with food banks, delivering prescriptions and backing community-centred projects.

This is where the expertise of the distillery and its skilled workforce have been put to best use. In remote rural areas, distilleries have a lifeline to vulnerable residents, while urban distilleries have used their expertise to help create a safer environment for care homes and doctors’ surgeries.

It is this local approach, with understanding of the communities in which they live and work at its heart, that has made the UK Spirits industry’s approach successful.

This is not a one off; for many distilleries, like the House of Botanicals in Aberdeen, supporting their community has been crucial to their business from day one. Their community spirit initiative has seen hand sanitiser donated to those in need and front-line workers, with a portion of the funds from their not for profit bottles given to charities and community organisations. Looking to the future The industry is proud of the efforts that everyone has made to support public services and our communities over recent months UK spirits have a crucial role to play in the economic recovery, but the industry needs support in the coming weeks and months.

The Government can support and enable this contribution to the economy by ensuring a fair and stable excise duty structure which supports our iconic national products. Through a package of measures, including a positive review of the duty system which introduces fairness into the system for spirits, alongside duty and VAT cuts on alcohol, the Government will be backing the industry to continue to deliver for the economy, our communities and colleagues.