Sheffield charities call for food security for all during Covid-19 crisis

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.

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.

Earlier this month 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.

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.

“Lockdown is having a significant impact on the economy, which will result in the number of people that we classify as disadvantaged increasing significantly. 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.


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