Extra funding has been made available to support Somerset’s foodbanks which have been playing a vital role throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
In order to provide extra support this winter, grants of between £2,000 and £3,000 have been awarded to a number of foodbanks across the county as part of Somerset’s Food Resilience Programme.
The Food Resilience Programme is run by the five councils in Somerset in partnership with several community organisations.
This funding will help foodbanks to cope with increased demand and enable them to bolster their food capacity should there be Covid-19 outbreaks in their local area.
The grants are being administered by Somerset’s District Councils with more than 25 foodbanks in receipt of funds so far.
These grants have been warmly welcomed by many of the staff and volunteers at Somerset’s foodbanks who have been working tirelessly to help others.
Mary Hart, a Trustee of Taunton Foodbank, said: “We are very grateful for the grants that have been awarded to Taunton Foodbank and our two satellite foodbanks in Wellington and Wiveliscombe. These grants came just as we needed to rent extra space to carry out our activities while keeping staff, volunteers and clients Covid safe.
“December has seen unprecedented levels of activity at our foodbanks and these grants help to ensure that local people needing to use us not only have the basics but also some seasonal extras over the Christmas period.”
Phil Jarman, manager of the Bridgwater Foodbank, added: “We have put together an additional 697 Christmas parcels to help families who may need a bit of extra support over the holidays. To do this we had to spend some of own money on items to supplement our donations, so this grant was gratefully received to help cover those costs.”
As well as the Foodbank grants initiative, some funding has also been directed to the Citizens Advice services in Somerset. Using this funding Citizens Advice will pilot providing a team of Somerset caseworkers to work with four organisations including Taunton Foodbank, the CCS Village Agents, Yeovil 4 Families and the new community pantry schemes being developed.
These caseworkers will prioritise helping people who find themselves in need to access support and overcome underlying issues.
The Food Resilience Programme is investing in a number of projects that will help communities cope with the immediate impacts of the pandemic, and projects that will enable them to respond to future incidents and support people in need.
The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, will be available for the duration of Christmas. It is open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm, offering a range of support – from help accessing food or medicines, to emotional and financial support, and employment, housing and business advice.