The cost-of-living crisis we are facing will be at the forefront of many people’s minds. The rise in inflation will unfortunately hit low income households the hardest, with the price of basic food items such as pasta increasing by as much as 141%. This, teamed with the planned energy cap increase in April, means we are facing a very difficult economic landscape. The SFPA will continue its work supporting crisis food provision in the county, but also enters 2022 with a renewed focus to look at preventative measures. All the usual updates below, along with links to other news and resources.
Food banks experiencing record levels of demand
Over the Christmas period many of Shropshire’s food banks have reported unprecedented levels of demand. We are unfortunately not expecting this demand to reduce. You can read about the experiences of Ludlow Food Bank in the Shropshire Star here.
Continued work on the cash-first agenda
Read our blog post on the Independent Food Aid Network’s website about the work we have been doing to promote cash first solutions to food insecurity. The ‘Worrying About Money?’ leaflets we have co-developed are a straightforward resource to help those facing financial crisis, and anyone supporting them, to quickly see the support and advice available to them locally. We have distributed over 10,000 copies across the county and frontline organisations tell us they have been a really useful resource. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like free hard copies.
Healthy Start Scheme
We have started to work on a project with Shropshire Council’s Public Health team to increase the uptake of Healthy Start scheme in Shropshire. The scheme supports eligible women more than 10 weeks pregnant or who have a child under 4 to buy healthy food and milk. Healthy Start vouchers are currently worth £4.25 per week – but if you have a child under the age of one, you could get two vouchers a week, taking your total amount to £8.50.
This work will coincide with the scheme’s transition from the old-style paper vouchers to a prepaid card. According to the Healthy Start website, benefits of the new scheme include:
any money you do not spend will remain on your card and can be put towards healthy food and milk in the future – this is unlike the current voucher scheme where you must spend £4.25 or over in one transaction
the card is discreet
you can check your balance which helps with money management
From 31 March 2022 the paper vouchers will no longer be valid.
There are useful resources available to help you support people to apply for the scheme such as this helpful blog post on Netmums which tells you everything you need to know about changes to the scheme and translations of the Healthy Start poster. Watch this space, we will be developing other resources to try and increase the uptake of this vital nutritional safety net in Shropshire.
Food insecurity and psychological distress are interconnected health issues. We know that now is a particularly challenging time for people, so we have updated the Health and wellbeing page on the Shropshire Larder with support available both locally in Shropshire and further afield. The SFPA will be looking at mental health and food insecurity as a priority area of work this year.
"I feel it's virtually impossible for me to survive"- Feeling the pinch in Bishop's Castle
Listen to the experiences of a woman supported by Bishop's Castle Community Food Bank on BBC radio Shropshire's 'Feeling the pinch in Bishop' Castle' interview here.
Holiday Activity and Food Programme- Spring 2022 applications now open
Deadline in 5pm Tuesday 15th February 2022.
Read the draft strategic plan for Shropshire for 2022-25 from Shropshire Council here.
Shropshire Community Fund grants
Community Resource administers a number of grants schemes through the Shropshire Community Fund to support groups to improve their community and the lives of local people.
Full details here.
Full details of job opportunities here.