20th August 2020
Sandwell Council has confirmed it has discontinued delivery of emergency food parcels to older, vulnerable and disabled residents who need them from the end of July.
People are now being urged to make arrangements for their food shopping, as shielding will end for most people as government restrictions continue to ease.
Sandwell Council set up its Emergency Practical Support Team in March to co-ordinate care and assistance for people who are older, vulnerable, disabled or who have been shielding themselves at home.
Supported by staff and volunteers as well as local businesses, charities, food banks and other organisations, the council has delivered more than 13,500 parcels since March to help people through the coronavirus (Covid-19) emergency.
Council staff moved temporarily from their normal jobs to run the food hub. They purchased food and essential items, packing and delivering parcels and calling vulnerable people to check on their welfare.
Sandwell was the first in the region to establish its food hub and is seen as best practice in terms of its quick mobilisation, community connections and expansion to support other vulnerable groups in Sandwell.
The food hub has been providing weekly deliveries of essential items – including eggs, cheese, milk, bread, pasta, cereals and tinned goods as well as sanitary products and baby food where needed – to people with no way of getting shopping.
Only a small number of households have received more than five parcels since March, as many people have started to make their own arrangements, order shopping online or been able to return to the shops.
Now, as government restrictions continue to ease and demand for the council’s food parcels has significantly reduced, the council is scaling back its operation.
The food hub service will end on 31 July, but emergency help and advice will still be available to those in greatest need.
The government has relaxed shielding measures as of 6 July and announced that shielding will end for most people, apart from those classed as extremely clinically vulnerable (who will continue to receive government support), from 1 August.
The council is sending a leaflet to all households who have been receiving its free food parcels letting them know they will need to make their own arrangements from 1 August onwards. The leaflet includes details of how to access supermarket delivery slots and food boxes, opening times, priority hours and other arrangements.
For anyone concerned about getting food, please call Sandwell Community Offer on 0121 726 3983 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For support from Sandwell Council Adult Social Care, please call 0121 569 2266.
Deputy Council Leader Councillor Maria Crompton said: “I want to thank everyone who has been involved in our food hub, which has been a key part of our response to Covid-19 in Sandwell.
“I am so proud of all the staff and all the volunteers who have made this a success and made sure that Sandwell residents who have had to stay at home have received food over this period.
“It’s been a real team effort with everyone pulling out all the stops. Thank you to all the charities, businesses and organisations – including Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), The Albion Foundation and West Midlands Fire Service – which have supported the operation too.
“Following the government’s relaxing of lockdown measures and plans for shielding to end for most people from 1 August, we finished delivering food parcels on 31 July.
“Emergency help will still be available for those in the greatest need.”
For more information on the council’s response to coronavirus (Covid-19) and support available locally, go to www.sandwell.gov.uk/coronavirus
There are a number of very helpful groups that can support isolated members of the community. Visit www.sandwell.gov.uk/coronaviruscommunitygroups for details.
For latest national advice, go to www.gov.uk/coronavirus and for health advice visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
Key statistics from the food hub are:
- More than 13,500 parcels have been delivered
- 20 residents living in temporary accommodation have been supported with donated hot meals and basic food stocks on a weekly basis.
- More than 50 residents referred from two local faith groups have been provided with weekly food parcels.
- 296 children not currently on the school roll have been receiving the weekly equivalent of £15 of food on a weekly basis.
- More than 500 children and families have been supported via referrals from Sandwell Children’s Trust.
- 14 schools have been provided with more than 200 food parcels on a weekly basis to support vulnerable families they have identified.
- More than 80 Sandwell employees have been involved in packing and delivering food parcels since 23 March.
- In the region of £6k of food has been provided to Sandwell’s food banks during this period which represents feeding 250 families.