Many of us will be understandably concerned about the Covid-19 pandemic, which is already having a substantial impact on individuals and the economy, as the Government look to limit the spread of the virus. My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones.

Demands on foodbanks are almost certain to increase in the coming weeks. I have made clear to the government my deep concern about the completely inadequate levels of statutory sick pay in this country and the millions who are unwell or self-isolating who do not qualify at all. It is not too late for them to increase sick pay, extend it to all and ensure that workers affected by the shutdown continue to be paid and I hope they act.

Nevertheless, as a consequence of these serious financial pressures, it is likely foodbanks will be under unprecedented pressure in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

While demand is increasing, foodbanks could see a decline in donations as people stockpile groceries in their own homes.

In Parliament, I urged the government to work with supermarkets to tackle this problem by putting aside stocks to donate to foodbanks. And to protect volunteers from infection, I also asked Matt Hancock what measures will be put in place to provide foodbanks with protective equipment.

I was pleased that the Minister responded positively to my suggestions and backed my call for supermarkets to make donations to foodbanks. I’ve now written to all the major supermarkets asking them to help with this huge effort.

But all of us need to play our part.

As is so often the case, local people have come together to help each other through trying times and lots of Sheffielders have asked me what they can do to support local foodbanks.

Foodbanks rely on regular donations so, if you can, please drop supplies off at:

  • Gleadless Foodbank, Gleadless Valley Methodist Church, Blackstock Road, S14 1FT – Friday, 12.30–14.30
  • S2 Foodbank, The Salvation Army, Duke Street, S2 5QP – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10.00–12.00
  • Spires Foodbank, 600 East Bank Road, S2 2AN – Wednesday and Friday, 9.30–14.00
  • Grace Foodbank, The Michael Church, 124 Lowedges Road, S8 7LD – Monday, 11.00–12:30

Foodbanks especially need people to donate:

  • Toilet roll
  • Soap
  • Sanitary products
  • Nappies
  • Baby wipes
  • Pasta
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Tinned fish and meat
  • Instant potatoes
  • Jars of pasta sauce
  • Rice
  • Cereals
  • Snacks
  • UHT milk (blue or green)

If you’re interested in volunteering at a local foodbank, please fill in my volunteer form here.

During this public health crisis, I will continue to press the government on the roll-out of Universal Credit which I know is causing a surge in demand at foodbanks across Sheffield, and do what I can locally to ensure that the most vulnerable in society get the support they need.

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