Wirral’s emergency food support arrangements will change next week as the Government’s shielding programme comes to an end.
Almost 3.8 million clinically extremely vulnerable people in England (those deemed to be most at risk from COVID-19) are currently being contacted by the Government to say they are no longer advised to shield from Thursday 1 April.
In response to the national changes - and reflecting the fact that demand for food support has now reduced to such an extent that a more ‘normal’ way of doing things is now possible - Wirral Council is changing the way emergency support is provided to those who need it.
On Friday 26th March the Emergency Food Hub, which was re-established in January in response to the latest national lockdown, a partnership between Wirral Council and Wirral Foodbank, will be disbanded as a physical entity and alternative arrangements put in place.
From Monday 29 March people in crisis and unable to pay for the food they need will be asked to call the Coronavirus Helpline on 0151 666 5050 or Citizens Advice Wirral on freephone 0808 278 7848, where they will be asked a few questions to assess their situation. If their application is successful, they will be issued with an electronic voucher which can be exchanged for a 3-day supply of essential food items at Wirral Foodbank Centres across Wirral. Full details of the sites will be available www.wirral.foodbank.org.uk from Monday 29th March.
Requests for emergency financial support for households in financial crisis, who have specialist food needs due to medical, religious or cultural reasons, should be made via the Coronavirus Helpline or online at www.wirral.gov.uk/foodhelp
People who are self-isolating and unable to leave home, who cannot pay for the food they need, can request a delivery of an emergency food hamper if they are unable to make alternative arrangements.
Emergency support will be provided to help people in crisis situations over weekends and the Easter Bank Holiday by calling the Coronavirus Helpline (0151 666 5050).
Anyone who applies for emergency financial support with food will be offered support from Citizens Advice Wirral, which will include a review of their situation, including a benefits check, debt advice and training and employment guidance as needed.
Wirral Council leader, Cllr Janette Williamson, said:
“Wirral’s Emergency Food Hub has provided a vital lifeline for thousands of local people over a large part of the past year. In that time it has arranged, packed and delivered almost 20,000 hampers to vulnerable residents.
“Local partners, including Wirral Foodbank, Neo Community , Involve Northwest, Citizens Advice Wirral, Rapid Response North West, Age UK Wirral, Prima Housing, Wirral Development Trust, Tranmere Rovers Football Club, Gautby Road Community Centre and Wirral Change, came forward and worked in partnership like never before in a truly monumental effort. A significant number of community-based groups and organisations have also joined this collective effort, providing food, meals and discounted food, to help those in need across the borough.
“To all their volunteers and staff - and to all the staff re-deployed from other Council services – I say a huge thank you on behalf of the Council. Your hard work and generosity really did help to ensure that local people didn’t go hungry because of the Pandemic.”
Those who still need help but can afford to pay for their food will also be signposted to other sources of help that remain available. These include:
- Wirral Infobank – wirralinfobank.co.uk – an online directory where Wirral residents can find local community support services, including food providers and delivery options and social supermarkets, help getting medication, and advice and information
- Priority online supermarket delivery slots through Iceland and Tesco
- Supported shopping via Rapid Response North West and Age UK
Wirral Foodbank’s general manager, Richard Roberts, said:
“Wirral Foodbank is proud to have been part of the incredible effort to help so many local people get through the past year. And just as we were there to help vulnerable people before the Pandemic, we will continue to be there to help those in need as we hopefully move towards its end and beyond. We can only continue to do this through the support of our incredible volunteers and the generosity of all who donate to Wirral Foodbank; thank you to you all.
“So please help us continue this vital work by donating an item or two at one of our collection points at supermarkets across Wirral or by donating online at www.wirral.foodbank.org.uk.”