Several months into the pandemic, research is starting to emerge on the continuing impact of Covid-19 in the region. Recent information from the Sussex Community Foundation suggest that, while social distancing guidelines are increasingly relaxed, the impact on the economy and the job market mean that the worst is far from over. Between March and June 2020 the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance or Universal Credit within Sussex more than doubled: from 25,170 to 58,815. A further 200,000 in the county were placed on furlough and 378,000 registered for self-employment support. With the furlough scheme set to close at the end of October and many businesses making staff redundant to lower their own costs, we can expect little change to unemployment over the coming months.
While all areas are affected, coastal towns are particularly at risk from the continued repercussions of the pandemic as so much of their employment is hospitality and tourism based. Insecure, low-paid and high face-to-face-contact jobs are those most impacted by Covid-19 and also most often held by young adults and BAME groups, who are already at a disadvantage. A report by The Coastal West Sussex Partnership has estimated that it will take the region nine years before full economic recovery is achieved.
Meanwhile it is also reported that several local charities have had to close due to lack of funding and others are expecting drops in income during this crucial time when more people than ever will be relying on extra support. In this climate the continued work that local charities do, including FareShare, is absolutely vital.
Not only will the financial losses experienced by many increase food insecurity and individuals’ reliance upon food banks, hubs and community kitchens; but the accompanying mental and emotional strain must not be overlooked. The sense of community, purpose and fulfilment that volunteering at FareShare can bring for those experiencing unemployment is invaluable at a time when so many are out of work. Our employability programme helps volunteers gain skills, confidence and experience for moving on to paid work – and as competition for employment is currently so high, this service will be more vital than ever.
The work that we are doing at FareShare shows no signs of slowing down. Since Covid-19 began we have more than tripled the volume of food we distribute every month: demand for our service increased rapidly and continues to climb. From 53 tonnes in February, to 71 tonnes in March, this rose to 138 in May, and by July we had distributed 160 tonnes of food that month alone – the equivalent of 380,952 meals. As the statistics show, situations have become very difficult for a lot of people and our team of volunteers at FareShare have been working tirelessly throughout to ensure that those struggling are supported through these challenging times.
It has been incredible to see the amount of dedicated individuals who have stepped up over the past six months to help out the community with enthusiasm and commitment. The enormous surge in volunteer applications that we received during lockdown has shown the amazing drive of so many to help make a difference in such uncertain times.
But we still need your help. We need sustainable income now more than ever to be able to continue delivering food to people who have lost their incomes and create opportunities for those who need support in an increasingly competitive job market.
The impact that FareShare has is huge: just £10 allows us to deliver enough food for 40 meals, and prevents 15kg of food from otherwise going to waste. The best and most consistent way to help us is by signing up to become a monthly donor, which you can do here.
We are constantly grateful for your support and generosity – we couldn’t do it without you.