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Changes planned for crisis food support

Changes to how support is provided to vulnerable residents are being introduced at the end of July as the Government ends its shielding programme.

From Friday 31st July, the Government is relaxing the advice it had given to people that they had identified as most at risk at the height of the Covid-19 crisis and ending its deliveries of emergency food to those people.

At the same time, Wirral Council and its partners in the Emergency Food Hub are changing how emergency support is provided to those who need it.

The Food Hub, which had brought partners together under one roof to respond collectively to requests for help, is being disbanded as a physical entity and services are returning to their regular operations.

That does not mean that emergency food help for people in need will stop, nor will the collaborative way of working end. 

The Coronavirus Helpline – 0151 666 5050 – will still be in place for people who need assistance; if they can’t afford to pay for food or if they need support in other ways.

From 3rd August, people will also be able to request help from other agencies, including such as Ask Us Wirral (a partnership that includes Citizens Advice Service and Age UK Wirral), Involve NW community connectors, Wirral Ways to Recovery, Wirral Advisory Centre and Wirral Change. The council – through customer services channels and local schools – can also make referrals. 

Agencies will assess those who require emergency food support, and where appropriate will issue an electronic foodbank voucher, redeemable at Wirral Foodbank Centres in Birkenhead and Wallasey.  Wirral Foodbank has relocated some of its Foodbank Centres; details will be provided by the referral body and are available at www.wirral.foodbank.org.uk

As well as making referrals to Wirral Foodbank, these partner agencies also offer a range of advice and support on issues such as benefits, debt and employment.

Those who still need help but can afford to pay for their food will be signposted avenues of help, which remain available after 31st July. These include:-

  • Wirral Infobank – wirralinfobank.co.uk – an online directory where Wirral residents can find local community support services, online events, advice and information
  • Priority online supermarket delivery slots through Iceland and Tesco
  • Supported shopping via Rapid Response North West and Age UK

Wirral Council leader, Cllr Pat Hackett, said: “The service that has been provided by the Emergency Food Hub during this pandemic has been nothing short of exceptional. The way all partners came together and got their heads down to deliver much-needed food to our most vulnerable residents has been inspirational.

“The good news is that the demand for support has now reduced to such an extent that we can go back to a more ‘normal’ way of doing things in terms of how emergency food is provided.

“But what we have learned from managing the crisis is that operating in collaboration really works and that is going to continue. I’m also pleased to say that a supply of longer-life stock of food is being safely stored in the short term so the food hub can start up again quickly if needed, either in the event of a second wave or some other sudden increase in emergency food demand.”