Unusual circumstances – unusual needs – exceptional generosity
During the Covid-19 pandemic needs at our foodbank escalated dramatically; usually we provide around 90 food parcels a week but this increased immediately at the end of March 2020 to over 200 a week (from 3.5 to 8 tonnes of food a week) and this shows no sign of abating. In the first few weeks we also faced the situation where food and monetary donations reduced and we were desperate to source food donations. Local food donations from suppliers, supermarkets and other local places increased but such was the demand that we also found ourselves having to purchase food and other supplies. Fuel, staff costs and hygiene costs also have increased. Local community partners and grant makers have been generous in helping us to respond to this unprecedented demand AND FOR THIS WE ARE MOST GRATEFUL.
How is Narthex adapting to the changes?
During the Covid-19 pandemic we have been inundated with requests for help from the poorest and most vulnerable members of our community. Many have turned up destitute with no income and food to feed themselves and their families. The lasting impact of the pandemic for many will be a financial one and our money and debt advice service was already oversubscribed before the pandemic. With new ‘Covid secure’ operating procedures in place and the added complexities of the issues being presented to us this has meant that the appointment system was fully booked as at August 2020. We since increased this capacity by recruiting additional support workers and through partnerships with local churches and their volunteers. It is vital that we are here to respond to the needs of the local community. We are now tailoring many of our existing activities in a different way, adapting to differing needs and identifying more vulnerable and isolated individuals who might not have been in this situation before the pandemic. We continue to approach trusts for grants towards our core operating costs to enable us to provide an emergency and crisis response to those most in need in our community.
From a practical perspective we have reduced staff working on site to a minimum and have implemented careful procedures to maintain social distancing and to use effective personal protective equipment (PPE). We have converted all our Money and Debt Advice work to be handled on the phone or online rather than face-to-face. Sadly some of our work, particularly with Seniors, has had to be put on hold for the duration of the pandemic.