Sheffield community groups helped vulnerable people survive Covid-19 'food crisis'
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Voluntary Action Sheffield which supports the city’s charities and voluntary sector, have released a report detailing how community and city-wide support groups have helped vulnerable people access vital food during the Covid-19 pandemic.
At least one in every 150 households has required help accessing food in April and 3,000 people have been provided with vital meals from charities each week.
It comes after Voluntary Action Sheffield recognised there was an immediate ‘crisis’ with food when the country went into lockdown on March 23 and 10,000 people in the city had applied for Universal Credit in the first few weeks.
While the system processed requests many were left with no income in the short term, free school meals were unavailable due to schools closing and the voucher system had not yet been introduced.
The charity created a support network of 19 community hubs and 17 specialist hubs when the crisis hit in March – where established voluntary organisations, which were connected to council services, could deliver virtual check-ins, emotional support and advice to those in need.
From the start of lockdown in March to the end of April, Citizens Advice Sheffield received an average of 120 daily calls daily to their Adviceline, and supported 2964 individuals with nearly 8000 issues.
While charities continue to provide support to vulnerable people, Voluntary Action Sheffield warns that more community spirit is needed as demand to help those still struggling increases.
Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Sheffield Maddy Desforges said: “The goodwill and support people have offered each other has been remarkable, and the help within communities has been very obvious.
“Going forward, people will need that community spirit and practical support more than ever, as we know more will fall further into poverty as recession approaches.
“There is an opportunity for this immediate response to be just the beginning.
“We need to make sure that what we have achieved in community resilience is preserved and built upon as we move forward as a city.”