In April, we sent out a survey to our supporters to find out the problems people were facing around access to food during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a few short days, almost 2,000 people shared their stories and experiences with us. The findings were stark:
- 48% of respondents said they had had problems accessing food. Of these:
- 56% said they couldn’t get food as there were low stock levels at the supermarket.
- 34% reported that they were skipping meals, reducing the amount of food they ate, or cutting down on the essentials.
- 35% said they are relying more on other people to get their shopping.
- 76% of respondents said that trying to access food during the pandemic had made them feel more, or much more, anxious than normal.
We used these powerful statistics and stories to influence and improve the measures put in place by the Government and supermarkets during the pandemic. Here is an update on some key action we have taken so far:
- Alongside other charities, we wrote to the Government and supermarket leaders raising your stories, concerns and calling for urgent improvements.
- We shared your stories and concerns directly with the House of Lords, and through briefings and evidence submissions to parliamentary committees.
- We met with the Government Minister responsible for food access and highlighted that many people in later life, and their carers, have been struggling to get the food they need with little support offered. The Government has now taken steps to address this and widen the number of people entitled to more help, as well as making it easier for people to access support on behalf of others. The Government has published guidance on accessing food and essential supplies which you can find here. If you, or someone you know, are struggling to access food you should contact your local council.
- We are reviewing and feeding back on Government guidance for supermarkets and local authorities to ensure it conveys the key challenges people in later life are facing, and how these can be overcome.
- We worked collaboratively to secure the Government’s commitment to collate supermarket information. This means charities, like us, can now more easily advise people on the different rules and regulations in place, without having to trawl multiple websites. You can see the most up-to-date information about the restrictions in place at different supermarkets on our website.
- We’ve spoken to some of you directly and featured your experiences in our Home Truths blog series. These stories been shared by other organisations and even had interest from the media.
We still have lots of work to do to ensure that the needs of people in later life are not forgotten during this pandemic.
We want to make sure the Government health guidance is clearly communicated, as well as making sure people have access to food, care, and bereavement support as the pandemic continues.
You can help us by sharing this blog with people you know and ask them to sign up to support our campaigns.