Sheffield charities call for food security for all residents during crisisPosted by: Claudia Downs
Following calls from major national charities last week, a network of charities in Sheffield has highlighted the scale of demand for food in the city and the critical importance of ensuring the basic needs of all residents are met.
Sheffield food banks have responded to a massive increase in demand for support as a result of Covid-19, supplying food to 3,152 people in 1,464 households during the week beginning 20th April. Demand for emergency food parcels has increased by 81% across the UK compared to March 2019.
The scale of the service suggests that around one in 160 Sheffield households needed to go to a food bank to eat, a significant increase on the previous week. In addition there are further emergency food deliveries co-ordinated by community hubs, faith groups and other support organisations.
Last week (1st May) a coalition of charities, including the Trussell Trust - which runs a nationwide network of food banks - Child Poverty Action Group and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, called for the government to introduce a Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme, “a temporary set of measures to offer a lifeline to people already experiencing, or at high risk of, financial hardship”.
Even when lockdown restrictions are eased, vulnerable groups will have to continue to shield themselves from social contact, while those with symptoms will still need to self-isolate, and this could have a significant impact on their ability to meet their immediate needs.
Those most vulnerable are more likely to see their income impacted because they can’t go to work, meaning they can neither access nor afford to pay for food for their family.
Maddy Desforges, Chief Executive at Voluntary Action Sheffield, said: “By its very nature this virus will impact more on people who are most disadvantaged and socially vulnerable, people with the lowest life expectancy. As a city we need to look at how we are supporting people who need it most - and with lockdown having such a significant impact on the economy, more and more people are being classified as disadvantaged. We need an approach which looks beyond the next few weeks to ensure sustainability in food supply for everyone in the city.”
Sheffield residents in need of support are encouraged to visit the Sheffield COVID Support Map to identify nearby mutual aid organisations, which operate informally at street and neighbourhood level, and ‘community hub’ organisations, which are leading a more formalised response on a wider scale by committing staff resources, supporting volunteers and connecting with Local Response Teams coordinated by Sheffield City Council.
VAS recommends that people in Sheffield download and install the Now Then App, free for Android and Apple devices, for regular COVID-19 updates and more information about the city’s community response.