Shropshire, like the rest of the UK, has seen a rise in issues relating to access to food and food poverty due to Covid-19.
Whilst many people are returning to a ‘new normal’ others have lost their incomes causing an increasing number of people struggling to make ends meet.
An increased number of households have had their incomes reduced making it more difficult for them to pay their bills and buy food.
Reduced employment opportunities.
In July the Office for Budget Responsibility predicted that unemployment could reach 12% by the winter.
By the end of June 40,500 employees in Shropshire and 24,200 employees in Telford had been furloughed. This equates to 30% of the eligible workforce (134,500 people). The furlough scheme is due to end in October.
Many people turned to Universal Credit for support with large increases in applications in April.
By the end of June 14,000 people in Shropshire and 5400 people in Telford had received support from the Self-employment income support scheme.
Online benefit calculator Turn2us reports a rise of 309% from people in Shropshire seeking advice. The greatest increase was from home owners (648%) highlighting the trend that people who have not historically needed support were turning to the benefit system.
There are now 14311 households in Shropshire now on
Universal Credit (August 2020)
Community Food Response to Covid-19
Across Shropshire there are many foodbanks and community food projects which have been supporting their communities with food during Covid-19. It has been a challenging time for these volunteer-led organisations.
Many have had to recruit new volunteers
Introduce new safety procedures
Identify more space to operate from and store food
Change the way they operate
Increase food and financial donations
There are now over 20 food banks and other organisations who are supporting their community with food parcels. Some of these opened up as a temporary response to Covid-19.
A core element of providing emergency food, is ensuring every person is treated with empathy and dignity and that they get the help they need.
The Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance has been hosting monthly foodbank meetings so that foodbanks can share updates, resources and information. We have also developed a signposting leaflet of various services operating in Shropshire to be distributed, to ensure people are able to access key help.
Mutual Aid Groups
Mutual aid groups were set up quickly across the county in response to Covid-19, either by church or community groups, parish councils or individuals. Many offered to collect shopping for people who were shielding or isolating, and some also put together emergency food parcels.
To see a list click here
Community Food Projects
Shropshire has a variety of community food projects, all providing low cost or free food to their community:
Distributes surplus food from supermarkets to groups across Shrewsbury. Despite losing a large amount of volunteers almost overnight as they were in the shielding category, they were able to recruit new volunteers and were lent vans from local businesses. They have expanded their foodshare tables across Shrewsbury over the summer holidays to reach more people and have continued to support key voluntary organisations with food.
Prior to lockdown, they provided a weekly community meal, however they quickly adapted to develop a meal delivery service to support vulnerable people. They also developed a free Brunch club aimed at teenagers who often miss out on free school meal provision.
Previously they had held lunch clubs in various venues in Ludlow but volunteers worked hard to cook and delivery meals out to vulnerable people in the community.