Helping Local Families Facing Food Poverty

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On the first day of the Covid-19 lockdown, Walton Family Centre got in touch with us for emergency funds. We gave them a £1,000 grant to buy supermarket vouchers. Being quick off the mark meant that our grant enabled them to respond swiftly to families in Walton and those in the wider community of Elmbridge facing food poverty.

The Centre reached out to all Elmbridge schools and other agencies working with children up to the age of 11 years old and openly encouraged them to refer families to them. With the help of our funding, together we have been able to support 50 Elmbridge families.

The Centre is finding that those facing food poverty are mostly those who are self-employed, on zero hours contracts, on furlough, have lost their jobs or are single parents who have been forced to give up their work in order to home school their children.

Katie Vinnicombe, Senior Family Support Worker at Walton Family Centre, gave us just one example of how her team has been able to help a local family. One parent has been in hospital since Christmas following a deterioration in their mental health. One child attends a specialist school, whilst the other attends a different local school. The family was already struggling to cope with children in different schools, a child with additional needs and a parent in hospital. Then, when lockdown started the other parent, who is self-employed, lost their work and income overnight. To make matters worse, debts accrued as a result of the parent’s mental health difficulties came to light and the family were left with no money to buy essentials. The family contacted the Centre who were able to supply the family with weekly food packages and vouchers to buy fresh food fortnightly. The parent is now out of hospital, but as yet they have not received any government support.

Katie says, “I would say we have been a literal lifeline for these families during the pandemic”.