Sheffield software firm donates to families in need as food banks see ‘massive increase’ in demand

A Sheffield software firm is donating its social and snack budget to help food banks cope with soaring demand during the Covid-19 crisis.

By David Walsh
Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 12:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th June 2020, 1:48 pm

WANdisco founder and CEO David Richards and wife Jane are also supporting the cause through their family foundation,, with the gift of hands-on activity kits for children in struggling households.

Together for Sheffield, a faith-based charitable organisation that is helping to coordinate the food bank response in the city alongside others, said it is seeing “a massive increase” in people needing emergency food.

It said one in 200 households in Sheffield are relying on food banks to feed themselves. Some providers are reporting a 200-300 per cent increase in demand, added the organisation.

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David Richards.

In one week last month, the city’s network of 27 food banks supplied emergency food to more than 1,150 households and 2,800 individuals.

With WANdisco’s 60 Sheffield-based employees now working remotely as a result of coronavirus, the company decided to donate its monthly social and snack budget to Together for Sheffield for distribution among food banks in the city.

The David and Jane Richards Family Foundation is also donating hands-on activity kits for food banks to share among users with children.

Ben Woollard, chief executive of Together for Sheffield, said: “All food banks are experiencing a massive increase in demand with growing unemployment, in-work poverty and small businesses suffering. The effects of this are likely to last for months, if not years.

Ben Woollard, chief executive of Together for Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

“We are encouraged that resourceful businesses like WANdisco want to partner to help the most vulnerable people in our city and would encourage other businesses which are able to follow the lead.

“Those who run and volunteer for food banks are unsung heroes and need all the support we can give them.”

David Richards said: “Poverty kills but food banks can save lives.

“The people who work at food banks are putting themselves in harm’s way to deliver emergency food to families in need during this crisis.

“With our physical UK office closed until September at the earliest, the least we can do is support these unsung heroes with our budgeted spending for this time.”

WANdisco’s offices in Belfast and Silicon Valley are supporting local food banks in their respective areas.

Jane Richards said: “We want to help make sure that children living in poverty don’t get left further behind while schools are closed.

“That’s why we are supporting families with hands-on activity kits to keep children entertained and inspired as much as possible during this difficult period.”

WANdisco has also donated data software to help fast-track international efforts to develop potential treatments and cures for Covid-19.

The Sheffield and Silicon Valley-based company has released free access to its suite of tools for every team processing big data about the coronavirus.

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