BREXIT: Charity’s fears on how Sheffield will be hit

Maddy Desforges and Eugene Walker (far right) address councillorsMaddy Desforges and Eugene Walker (far right) address councillors
Maddy Desforges and Eugene Walker (far right) address councillors
Brexit could spark ‘tension, unrest and violence’ in Sheffield communities, warns one of the city’s biggest charities.

Voluntary Action Sheffield says it has five key concerns about Brexit, including the impact it will have on community cohesion.

Chief executive Maddy Desforges told a scrutiny meeting VAS had been thinking about how it could support community organisations in the face of either a no deal Brexit or a negotiated Brexit.

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She said: “As a city we rely critically on the voluntary community sector and that if we didn’t have that sector, if it wasn’t thriving, a whole pile of health and social care and other interventions in the city wouldn’t exist and that would be really problematic both economically and in terms of health and wellbeing.

“We have been working with organisations and thinking about five key areas that may happen, particularly in a no deal Brexit.

“We’re thinking about settled status and how we can support people to stay and live and thrive in the city.

“We’re thinking about community cohesion and particularly the likelihood of tension, unrest and violence in the wake of whatever Brexit happens.

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“We’re particularly thinking about the impact on the poorest communities and we all know that whatever Brexit happens they are likely to suffer the most.

“It seems in the immediate aftermath of Brexit there’s likely to be an economic downturn and particularly for the voluntary sector this is problematic as income would go down but crucially demand for services would go up.

“How can we support these groups to continue to thrive so as a city we benefit from the services and activities that take place? How can we support organisations to thrive, given we rely on so many in the city?”

The government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit, as detailed in the recently released Operation Yellowhammer, warns of severe disruption to cross-Channel routes and as a consequence, affecting the supply of certain types of fresh foods.

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Eugene Walker, executive director of resources, says in a council report: “In Sheffield, the Food Bank Network alongside other organisations, including Healthwatch, and VAS and the NHS, have expressed concern about the possible impact of a no deal Brexit on donations to food banks across the city.

“At a time of high levels of historic need any reduced donations would again have a significant impact on the most vulnerable residents of the city.”