Find out how Warwickshire has allocated funding to help people who are struggling to afford food and other essentials as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Warwickshire County Council has now allocated the majority of the county’s share of Government funding to help people who are struggling to afford food and other essentials as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Warwickshire has been allocated just over £520,000 of the £63m Covid-19 Emergency Assistance funding distributed to local authorities in England to help residents who are finding it hard to feed their families.
This financial award will enable the council to further support communities who have been affected by Covid-19. It will provide a much needed boost to the help currently in place to tackle food poverty such as, the council’s local welfare scheme (which provides emergency support for people in crisis when they have no other means of help) food vouchers, food banks and community-based support. Together this will contribute to building a sustainable legacy on the back of the county’s work to provide food and support to individuals who were shielded earlier in the pandemic.
The council was given discretion over how the funding was used with conditions that it had to be used only for the provision of food and essential items, and that those in most need would be prioritised.
To ensure the best mix of support for local residents, the council initiated a project which ran over the summer in partnership with the district and borough councils. Representatives from each local authority worked together to look at local need and develop plans that would benefit vulnerable people and provide innovative and sustainable approaches to address food poverty during these difficult times.
It was decided that some funding would be used to top-up Warwickshire County Council’s local welfare scheme and the rest would be divided between a number of areas including; specific food projects, food for the homeless, food banks and supporting infrastructure.
Warwickshire community groups were invited to put forward bids for funding to develop local support relating to these areas. In total 21 bids that met the criteria for support were agreed and almost £400,000 has now been awarded. Allocation of the remaining funds will be made in due course.
The varied schemes are now being set up and will begin reaching out to people in need offering food and healthy eating education. The funding will support community cafes, the provision of fruit and veg bags, a community kitchen, mobile food banks, expansion of local food banks to provide chilled food and much more.
Leader of Warwickshire County Council, Izzi Seccombe, said: “The work done in partnership to allocate this funding was exemplary, and will ensure a broad offer of extra much needed help to people facing hard choices and struggling to afford food. The successful bids showed an understanding of need in communities across Warwickshire and demonstrated real innovation in helping people access food and essential supplies. I’m pleased to see so many projects incorporating community elements in the proposals, giving people the opportunity to connect with others, build networks and play a bigger part in their local area.
“This will be a great addition to support already in place across the county and will offer a lifeline to people by supporting them to feed their families and stay as healthy as possible. The pandemic may require us to distance ourselves from one another, but never before have we been more together, or has community been more important.”
The successful projects will be promoted to people in local areas and more details will be made available as the projects develop. In the meantime Warwickshire County Council’s Covid-19 hotline on 0800 408 1447 is open 9am to 5pm Monday-Thursday, 9am to 4.30pm on Fridays, 9am to 3pm on Saturdays and 10am to 1pm on Sundays for people who need urgent help to access food and well-being support during these difficult times.
Warwickshire County Council’s Local Welfare Scheme is accessible via the hotline, or online at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/localwelfarescheme and can also assist people in crisis by offering short term support to manage the needs of their households. To get support from the scheme people need to be a UK resident, aged 16 or over, and have no other financial means to access food or fuel. Anyone facing serious hardship is invited to get in touch to find out more.
The council is not new to finding food solutions for vulnerable people during the pandemic. This work follows a successful countywide partnership led by Warwickshire County Council to provide food and essential supplies to clinically extremely vulnerable people who were ‘shielded’ from the pandemic earlier this year.
During shielding around 20,000 people in Warwickshire were asked to stay in their homes for 12 weeks. The council reached out to those isolated without support and set up a county-wide food supply and distribution infrastructure and network to get regular food parcels to them, backed up by a seven day a week hotline. Over the shielding period over 10,000 food and household supplies parcels were delivered and 5,000 calls were made or received via the council hotline.
This was a solid partnership effort between the county council, district and boroughs and the community and voluntary sectors. Warwickshire County Council purchased, assembled and delivered all parcels to local hubs which took responsibility for onward delivery to those isolated at home.
In addition, medicines were delivered, the library service dropped off books to 150 shielded customers, made regular befriending calls and set up a virtual library, volunteers provided further support and delivered supplies, and lots of information was shared and distributed to help people look after their well-being and stay connected. To ensure this wider support across the county, Warwickshire County Council continued to work closely with the five district and borough councils. Warwick District Council recently published a document reflecting upon the shared experience and work that went on behind the scenes in one area. .
For more information about council services and support during the pandemic, visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/coronavirus.