Responding to a report by Which? on the difficulty some vulnerable people have faced in accessing food and essential groceries during the pandemic, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Councils have worked hard to protect those most vulnerable during the pandemic and to support the government scheme to deliver food and supplies to those in the shielded group.
“We urge anybody who is struggling with access to food, whether they are part of the shielded cohort or vulnerable for other reasons, to contact their local council who will be able to help put in place arrangements to support them.
“Although the shielding programme is being paused, arrangements need to be put in place to support those who have to self-isolate or resume shielding. Government and supermarkets must ensure that there is priority access to delivery and collection slots going forward, as well as continued access to volunteer capacity to support vulnerable residents with their shopping.
“Any future support can build on the leadership shown by councils in establishing local arrangements, alongside food charities, retailers and other local partners, to support vulnerable residents outside the shielded group who are struggling to access food and other essentials due to their isolation, or because of economic vulnerability or hardship.
“Government and councils are keen to learn from every local outbreak, to ensure that no-one is without support as we move out of national lockdown. Councils will also continue to play a crucial role in supporting individuals and their families’ mental health and wellbeing due to long periods of isolation, stress and uncertainty.”