How Asda is helping FareShare and Citizens Advice Bureau get food to people in need in the Outer Hebrides

20 July 2020

Citizens Advice Bureau in the Outer Hebrides has been working with FareShare Grampian to get food parcels to those who need it most through the coronavirus lockdown.

Thanks to a generous £2.5m donation from Asda, FareShare Grampian is getting out more than double the food it was distributing before lockdown measures came into place. In the Outer Hebrides – where demand for food parcels has almost doubled – food supplies provided by FareShare has been crucial for those facing hardship through the pandemic.

“Where we are is truly a very beautiful place but, like all areas, we suffer from the same problems. Low wages, high prices, travel difficulties, remoteness and fuel costs can cause many difficulties,” explains Steve Hankinson, Strategic Manager of the Western Isles Citizens Advice Service.

Unfortunately the outbreak of COVID-19 hit the Islands hard, with benefit claims increasing by more than 60 percent and demand for food bank parcels almost doubling.

In partnership with Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), FareShare Grampian has been working tirelessly through the pandemic to address the soaring demand and ensure the most vulnerable can continue to access good food – no matter how remote they may be.

Steve explains how the two organisations cameo to working with FareShare Grampian: “The FareShare team came to talk with CnES in September last year as part of their food security work leading up to Brexit.

“The help that FareShare offered was very appealing to all of us at the meeting and so the CnES drove the project forward, working with Graeme and his colleagues to quickly arrange the first delivery.

“The food is stored at the Citizens Advice Bureau offices in Stornoway and we have created a system whereby all frontline workers have access to the FareShare food. These colleagues include social workers, housing officers, homeless case workers, and NHS staff, who have 24 hour access to the bags of food so that they can take it and deliver to some of the more vulnerable residents they meet during their home visits.

“We also had volunteers taking the food supplies to all the Islands so that no one was missed and delivered additional food supplies onto local community groups which typically provide food and dinners.”

Already the FareShare Grampian and CAB partnership is having a big impact, with an estimated 350 boxes of food being delivered to communities and homes every two weeks. Steve anticipates they will have this level of demand will continue for some time.

He adds: “Getting food to the Islands is difficult as everything comes by ferry. Without FareShare’s help, this mass distribution of food would have been very difficult or impossible. The FareShare help cannot be over stated. FareShare food gives real tangible help to support those in need.

“We all wish that all food help wasn’t needed but right now it is, no matter where you live. Being able to help people in this way supports them through very difficult parts of their lives with a dignity and promise that people exist who really do care for others.

“The FareShare team have been such a great help to all those in the Outer Hebrides. All our deepest thanks to FareShare Grampian and CFINE – their supply of food to our fellow islanders has been crucial.”

Asda is supporting FareShare through COVID-19 as part of the Fight Hunger Create Change partnership between Asda, FareShare and the Trussell Trust. Over three years, Asda is investing more than £20 million in both charities to enable them to invest in their infrastructure, get more food to people at risk of hunger and create a lasting change to poverty in the UK.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has placed millions of people into hardship, resulting in demand for FareShare and Trussell Trust’s services skyrocketing. To help both charities do more, text ‘hunger’ to 70065 to give £5.