Richmond residents facing food poverty due to COVID-19 will be able to apply for a grant to help them over the next few weeks, Richmond Council have announced.
Last month, the council awarded over £120,000 to local voluntary organisations to support residents struggling to access food and other essentials.
Cllr Michael Wilson, Spokesman for Communities, Equalities and the Voluntary Sector, said: “Since the start of the pandemic, the response to this crisis from local volunteer groups has been brilliant.
“Thousands and thousands of food parcels have been delivered to people all over the borough. And as further restrictions are now in place, we anticipate that the demands on food and other essentials will continue throughout the winter.”
Citizens Advice Richmond, Richmond AID and independent living charity Ruils have come together to offer a coordinated package of support, including cash and vouchers for families to help towards the cost of food as well as an advanced service to help residents access longer term support.
Lucy Byrne, CEO of Richmond AID said: “Richmond AID is pleased to be working with Citizens Advice Richmond and the local authority in distributing this grant to people who desperately need it.
“As food poverty continues to increase as a result of reduction in income, unemployment, housing, benefits and debt issues this grant will make a huge difference to people impacted by COVID.”
Simon Lawson from Richmond Citizens Advice, added: “We are helping a record number of clients deal with issues and we expect this to increase further in the coming months.
“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic people are struggling to cope with redundancy, claiming benefits, rising debts and threats of homelessness, so this new fund is going to help residents in real need.”
The announcement comes as new research from the Trussell Trust forecasts that food banks will give out six emergency food parcels a minute this winter.
The analysis shows a 61% increase in food parcels required across its UK network between October and December.
The grant can be used to purchase food, clothing and essential equipment with other items considered if evidence can be provided that they are essential.
To be eligible for the grant, an applicant must be over 18, live in the borough of Richmond and be facing difficulties such as food poverty as a result of the impact of coronavirus.
Those who have lost their jobs, face benefits issues, or have serious health problems are also eligible to apply under the scheme.
Households with children that are affected by COVID-19 and experiencing financial hardship can also apply to the Richmond COVID-19 Hardship Fund for supermarket vouchers.