Covid-19 RESPONSE REPORT MARCH - AUGUST 2020 1
Summary C OVID-19 PANDEMIC As the COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves through our community in mid March 2020, thousands of people were put at risk of extremely vulnerable situations. Before lockdown, an estimated 8.4 million people in the UK struggled to eat, with many more just managing to make ends meet. As a direct result of lockdown, thousands of people across our South West region were tipped into positions of insecurity or isolation, causing many to have problems accessing or affording food. As well as deepening the concern amongst already vulnerable people, the crisis brought new, sudden reasons for food insecurity amongst people who may have never needed food support before in their lives. While some of our 260 member charities, schools and community groups were forced to close entirely, we received hundreds of enquiries from frontline organisations and pop-up projects asking us for emergency food supplies to support their community. Schools in areas of high deprivation turned into food banks to support families living on the breadline, homeless charities set up meal production services to replace street handouts, elderly peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lunch clubs transformed into food parcel delivery services. Many of these organisations had tiny budgets, and could not afford to buy retail value food on any scale- restrictions on items in supermarkets making this harder.
While supermarket shelves seemed empty in March 2020, there were thousands of tonnes of additional surplus food available, due to the closure of the hospitality sector and unexpected changes to supply chain algorithms across the food industry. There were also offers from major food companies of large scale donated food. No other organisation in the region had capacity to deliver this food, and with both supply and demand soaring, FareShare South West was well-placed to scale up and deliver food straight to those most in need. As we emerge from lockdown into a world of uncertainty, FareShare South West needs to be there. With unemployment rates soaring and economic instability expected, we know our food support will be in demand long into the future to help lift people out of food poverty and back to security. While our Emergency Food Response was based on temporary resources, we need to be equipped to be part of long term solutions, working with our community to stop people falling through the cracks.
Thanks to an unprecedented collaborative effort from our community and the FareShare UK network, we have been able to deliver food for in excess of
2 million meals to over 300 South West frontline organisations between March 16th–July 31st: six times our pre-crisis operation We know this food has literally been a lifeline to tens of thousands of people, as well as supporting small South West charities to survive during lockdown.
“To not have to worry about food at this time has kept me sane and has vastly improved our mental and physical health. Mercy in Action’s driver is the only contact I have with another human at the moment and I look forward to our chat each week” “Whoever you are, and it’s strange to write to someone I’ve never met who has done so much for me, thank you for your kindness and care in such vulnerable and frightening times. My daughter and I will be forever grateful to you and hope one to repay the kindness”
Our Emergency Food Response With our small warehouse in central Bristol already working close to max capacity, we expanded extremely quickly in response to the pandemic.
PHASE 1: Secure existing activity and move food safely During March 2020 we turned around our operation in a matter of weeks to cope with fast change and ensure we were working safely- all without stopping our food redistribution which so many relied upon each day. With changes across the board to almost every element of our operations, we had to act quickly to stabilise and secure our existing operation of delivering food for 40,000 meals each week.
Half of our 150 volunteers were either asked to shield to protect them, or stopped volunteering so that they could shield a loved one. We started rolling recruitment of hundreds of new, low risk volunteers from sectors with experience.
With many small charities and new pop-up projects in no position to pay our normal membership contributions, around half of our core income was at risk. We set up our Emergency Coronavirus Appeal to raise vital funds that would enable us to keep redistributing food free of charge to front line charities.
Working in line with government and new food safety guidelines, we overhauled warehouse processes to ensure we played our part to minimise infection rates, protected our staff and volunteers and worked as safely as possible.
Expand key infrastructure
Secure partnerships to support frontline charities
With our charity stabilised and the warehouse operating safely, we put a call out to our city and region to support us to grow our infrastructure so that we could redistribute more food. Our community responded with offers of support: Ashton Gate Stadium stepped up to provide us with a 6,000 sq ft pop-up emergency warehouse; van hire companies such as ALD Automotives generously loaned us vehicles and drivers; local funders and companies like field&flower provided us with emergency funding that enabled us to quickly equip major new operations. With this crucial new infrastructure we were able to accept hundreds of tonnes of food and by April 20th, we were delivering nearly 15 tonnes each week- including pulling forward our plans to support Devon and Cornwall charities. From Ashton Gate Stadium, we launched an ambient-only (non-fridge) food operation to meet the increased need for food parcels.
BEYOND THE NEXT FEW WEEKS AND MONTHS, WE NOW LOOK TO THE LONG TERM FUTURE TO PLAN HOW FARESHARE SOUTH WEST CAN BE PART OF THE WIDER SOLUTION IN REBUILDING OUR COMMUNITIES THROUGH FOOD.
With new emergency logistics and operations in place thanks to support from across our community, we were able to work more effectively with our charity partners to maximise the amount of food getting to vulnerable people. By offering the food free of charge thanks to funds raised, barriers to partnerships were broken down and we could get food out quickly. We worked with councils, key regional organisations and partner charities to ensure our food was delivered in a targeted way, and created bespoke partnerships where needed.
PHASE 4: Secure long term growth, rebuild our community As lockdown relents, much of the temporary resources our Emergency Food Response was based on must be returned to supporters. However, we know from our charity partners that the food crisis is far from over and new levels of food poverty will be with us for a long time. It is critical now that we secure the temporary growth we have seen during the crisis period so that we do not shrink back to pre-covid levels of operation. In the coming weeks and months, our food could be the difference between someone slipping into much more complex situations of food poverty and being supported back to full independence.
Impact in numbers 769 TONNES OF FOOD DELIVERED BETWEEN MARCH 16TH- JULY 31ST FOOD FOR NEARLY 2 MILLION MEALS DELIVERED SO FAR (5 TIMES OUR NORMAL OPERATION!) OVER 50,000 VULNERABLE PEOPLE BENEFITED FROM OUR FOOD, INCLUDING OVER 20,000 CHILDREN 250% INCREASE IN ACTIVITY COMPARED TO 2019 215 VOLUNTEERS GAVE THEIR TIME DURING LOCKDOWN 337 FRONTLINE CHARITIES AND PROJECTS SUPPORTED, INCLUDING 47 NEW EMERGENCY CHARITY PARTNERSHIPS
Beneficiary locations CHARITIES DIRECTLY SUPPORTING BAME PEOPLE AND REFUGEES
ORGANISATIONS SUPPORTING FAMILIES AND CHILDREN ON LOW INCOMES
PROJECTS SUPPORTING THE HOMELESS
CHARITIES SUPPORTING PROJECTS PEOPLE WITH SUPPORTING DRUG OR ALCOHOL ISOLATED ADDICTION ELDERLY PEOPLE
*Ex-offenders, Unemployed, Young Carers, People affected by domestic violence 7
Key charity partnerships While we provide the food supply, our front line partner organisations know best the specific issues faced by their communities, and the needs of individuals they support. By working together closely, we can create bespoke partnerships that benefit people in need. Below are just a few examples of major emergency partnerships launched during the pandemic.
SUPPORTING ELDERLY PEOPLE With their minibus service on hold, Bristol Community Transport (BCT) launched a food parcel delivery service to the most vulnerable on their customer list who were confined to their homes. Many of the elderly people BCT support had no family to help with shopping and were unable to navigate online shopping. In April we launched a partnership to deliver food for over 30,000 meals to the most isolated vulnerable elderly people alongside other charities including the Black South West Network, ACTA and AgeUK Bristol.
“Without this partnership and the support of FareShare so many of our members didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. Having the peace of mind that they would receive the basics every week as well as a phone call and a doorstep chat with the driver has made the world of difference and made isolation just a bit more bearable.” Lily Geraghty Bristol Community Transport
FOOD CLUBS Run by Family Action, FOOD Clubs provide affordable, fresh food to vulnerable families and are one of the most effective ways of supporting families in need out of food poverty. During lockdown we supplied 8 new Clubs across Bristol (with support from Feeding Bristol) and B&NES (working with Bath City Council). This takes the total FOOD Clubs we supply to 18 Clubs, supporting over 2,700 extremely vulnerable families each week.
“FareShare South West have been providing us with approx. 1 tonne of surplus food every week since we started our Cheers Drive project, which is a phenomenal amount! Our incredible teams of chefs and packers have been turning that food into hot dinners, breakfast, lunch & snack bags for 400 homeless people every day. Our amazing team of delivery and distribution volunteers then get that food to the people who need it. We’ve provided over 100,000 meals over 100 consecutive days, and we’re still going! Our volunteer drivers collect food 3 times a week from Fareshare – it’s been fantastic working with them in these challenging times.” Kat Caldwell Operations Manager
“FareShare South West has been an absolute lifesaver during the Covid 19 pandemic. My partner hasn’t been working since the lockdown and unfortunately wasn’t able to be furloughed so money is extremely tight. FareShare South West has been able to help me feed my family good healthy wholesome food for little price. Without FareShare I don’t think we would have been able to survive as well as we have been.”
CARING IN BRISTOL & CHEERS DRIVE Homelessness charity Caring in Bristol launched a major project at the start of lockdown to ensure homeless people in the Bristol area had a nutritious food supply alongside emergency accommodation. In an incredible collaborative effort, Bristol’s top chefs pulled together to cook up quality food using our food plus donated supplies. In four months we supplied 41 tonnes of food, enough for 100,000 meals! 9
DE VON & C ORNWALL CHARITIES IN PARTNERSHIP WITH BRITISH RED CROSS AND RE: AC T Development plans to deliver into Devon and Cornwall were already in the pipeline when the crisis hit, with plans to launch a steady service later in the year. With many areas of these two regions facing extreme levels of deprivation and frontline charities desperate for food support, we launched an emergency operation early.
GLOUCESTER PARTNERSHIP In April, we approached Tuffley Court Community Association to work together to distribute food to frontline Gloucester charities. With support from logistics company Downton, we have delivered 61 tonnes of emergency food to over 30 Gloucester organisations.
“The British Red Cross Exeter office is currently being used as a distribution centre for multiple voluntary organisations, including Fareshare and RE:ACT, to help local food banks support people experiencing extreme food poverty across the South West. “The deployment was initially scheduled for a four-week period which has now been extended to five weeks due to the success of the project. We are using two TM36 6x6 tents situated in the Exeter office car park to sort deliveries before sending them out to hundreds of food banks and charities throughout the region. “We’re enormously proud of our Red Cross emergency response volunteers in Devon. They have been doing an amazing job; marshalling delivery lorries, food pallets and food bank vehicles, as well as providing people with PPE and refreshments and sign-posting visitors to the Red Cross mobility aids service, which is also housed on-site. “The volunteers have been covering two shifts every Monday for the past three weeks, as well as supporting RE:ACT and Fareshare at the base. This is a wonderful demonstration of our volunteers’ dedication and an example of the power of kindness in action. “The partnership has demonstrated how - by bringing together the skills and resources of different organisations - we can mobilise muchneeded support to efficiently combat widespread food poverty at a regional level.” Debbie Carrig Emergency Response Officer for the British Red Cross in Devon 10
SUPPORTING FAMILIES IN BATH & NORTH E AST SOMERSET Working with a coalition of Bath and North East Somerset charities, schools and community groups, we responded to the Bath community and delivered targeted food support to the most vulnerable across the region, including partner charity Mercy in Action which runs a Pantry scheme and emergency food parcel delivery service.
“A BIG Thank you. I’ve been receiving FareShare South West food parcels for the last few months. It’s been amazing fresh food and some food I never tried but enjoy getting different things. It been my weekly lifeline since lockdown, and it been a life saver for me and my 2 year old and we have been cooking from scratch”.
Volunteers 215 9,000 We could not have responded to the crisis without exceptional support from our volunteers. 215 volunteers stepped up to give their time during the lockdown period, with many giving several days each week. We are incredibly grateful for their patience through this challenging time, incredible hard work and ongoing dedication to getting food out to those in need. If we could name you all we couldbut you know who you are!
We also want to thank those volunteers who did the right thing by pausing volunteering to shield at home. We know from your messages that you are supporting from afar, and we can’t wait to see you again when you can return!
hours of volunteer time
£78,480 if we paid our volunteers living wage
“What has surprised me about FareShare is the scale on which it can deliver as an organisation. The volumes of food that come in and get redistributed are mind boggling. What’s shocked me most though is the sheer size and complexity of the problems many of the organisations we deliver food to are facing. It’s struck me that so many of these organisations tackling massive social issues are volunteer led themselves.’” “A lot of people are furloughed and may be feeling a bit purposeless, but giving your time and experience keeps you busy and means you’re directly supporting those affected by the crisis coronavirus has caused.” “When you’re at home all day, doing something tangible to help has been amazing. I’ve been overwhelmed seeing the dedication of people at FareShare South West to get food out, no matter what.” Sam Driving Volunteer.
Supporters We could not have achieved our Emergency Food Response without support from our community. To every single individual, trust and local company who chose to support us, thank you. We havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been able to mention everyone on this page, but without you all we would not have had the huge positive impact we have achieved so far.
If we are to continue to support hundreds of South West charities to help their communities, our charity will need continued support from our community into the future. 13
What next? HOW DO WE FIT INTO THE FOOD SOLUTION POST-LOCKDOWN? As we move out of lockdown into an uncertain post-Covid future, FareShare South West needs to be there to rebuild resilient communities. Equipping communities with a sustainable food supply will stop vulnerable people from sliding into more complex situations of food poverty. Our work is time critical as we know our food is a safety net for many right now, helping people back towards independence. With many front line charities in extremely challenging times as a result of the crisis, our food enables partner charities to continue food support and save thousands on food bills, meaning they can reinvest budgets into other vital services. While much of our first phase of Emergency Response work was built on temporary resources and solutions, we now need funding to secure this temporary infrastructure and ensure our food supply does not shrink back to pre-COVID levels at a time when it is needed more than ever. Donations to our appeal will help secure the future of our work.
As lockdown continues to ease, we will be laying out our commitment to our community to be part of the solution moving forward. 14
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