Updated: Dec 7, 2021
" There is no power for change for greater good than a community discovering what it cares about" - MARGARET J WHEATLEY.
Impact to our community
The Covid-19 crisis has had a profound effect on our society, and overnight turned people’s lives upside down. Throughout the pandemic millions of people have been advised to stay at home and many others have chosen to do so. Many people are also experiencing, or at greater risk of, financial hardship. At the beginning of the pandemic, people flocked to the supermarkets to bulk buy stocks of food; driven by a natural, primal fear of going hungry.
Although these anticipated food shortages never came to pass in our supermarkets, millions have nevertheless struggled to access the food they need. While food insecurity in the UK existed before the Covid-19 crisis began, increased poverty and isolation have exacerbated the issue. National social distancing and lockdown measures eased after the first lockdown, but cases of the virus has risen and the UK had to face a second lockdown.
Food insecurity among the more vulnerable in our communities could remain, but we have already become aware that this is a wider issue in society, especially with the rise of foodbanks. In the coming months or year, depending on whether the virus can be controlled, people may still continue to be advised to isolate and shield. Which consequently will lead to the struggle to access food. Food insecurity inevitably looks different in every emergency and tackling it can be complex. Even if lockdown eases, many of the issues people are facing will remain.
Continued efforts to better understand vulnerabilities and identify those most at risk is essential. Achieving this requires strong collaboration between all parts of society; The Government, local authorities, local resilience forums, local health and care systems, the voluntary and community sector and the business community. Each of these parts of the system hold unique insight into local need, as well as access to communities and by working together can ensure a more holistic, person-centered response.
We have witnessed an immense collective effort during this pandemic to get emergency food parcels to people in need. We have learnt a lot about what works, where the gaps are in communities and what practical steps can be taken to keep improving response in the future. Meeting people’s practical and emotional needs in an emergency, particularly those in the most vulnerable situations, should be central to any effective crisis response. Ensuring no one goes without essentials including food.
The issues in Tower Hamlets are even more complex, as one of the most diverse boroughs and also a borough with one of the highest poverty rates in England. COVID-19 has shown us essentially two main things.
Firstly, a lot of people in our communities require support for the basic needs of hot food and essentials and secondly, we have learned that in an emergency, ordinary people can come together to support their neighbours.
Individuals have organised themselves into groups in estates, streets and communities to identify those most at need and this has been one of the many, positive things to come out of the lockdown. Communities have united to support those in need.