Organisations on brink as Scottish Government fails to guarantee funding


​Cash has run out for vital community covid emergency food response #NeverMoreNeeded

12th June 2020 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A community food crisis is facing local organisations in Edinburgh after the Scottish Government failed to guarantee funding.

The city’s Third Sector Covid-19 Food Network was established in late March 2020 to support the community response to the pandemic by bringing 30 organisations together to coordinate support for those who have been affected by the virus.

This has included ongoing food provision, befriending, social and practical support, shopping, dog walking and emotional support.

Some £1.65 million was allocated to Edinburgh in late March by the Scottish Government, but by 15 June all of this money will have been spent.

However as the country’s test and protect programme is rolled out across Scotland, the network says it will need more resources to cope with vital support to the most vulnerable – especially those who will be shielding.

Ella Simpson, chief executive at Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council (EVOC), said: “From the beginning of this pandemic, local organisations stepped up to support the most vulnerable and now we’re having the rug pulled out from beneath our feet. They offer amazing value, with each meal costing the princely sum of £1.87, delivered to the person’s door.

“This need has not gone away, and we are worried about leaving vulnerable people without food.

“The lack of action from Scottish Government is desperately short sighted and risks leaving organisations on a cliff edge with no clarity about how they might continue to offer this critical support.”

“The test and protect programme risks increasing this need. Scottish Government have assured people that this programme comes with support through the national assistance helpline. We can’t see how this is possible without the Food Fund.”

Organisations across the city, including cultural and culinary training groups, older people’s day care services, community transport operators, youth work groups and local community anchor organisations have been working together to meet the food needs brought about due to Covid-19. The programme now delivers over 27,000 meals per week to Edinburgh’s most vulnerable citizens, older people and the families and friends of shielded people.

Kellie, manager of Caring in Craigmillar, said her organisation stepped up to meet the need of local vulnerable people and feared how they will cope without continued support.  

She said: “We are shocked that the vulnerable people of North East Edinburgh are not going to get the support the first minister promised and we don’t see how we can support the new test and protect programme either without the continuation of the Food Fund.   

“We are lucky that we have staff that are currently supported through a contract through the Health and Social Care Partnership, for day care service, who are now supporting our day care clients at home but I know that a lot of organisations in other areas have been spending their reserves to offer support to people in their communities.  

“When it is time to come out of lockdown, those organisations will be on their knees. “

Brenda Black, chief executive of  Edinburgh Community Food (ECF), said: “It is no exaggeration to say that the Scottish Government-funded Vulnerable Group Food Network is a lifeline to thousands of families within Edinburgh and the surrounding areas. 

"Under the umbrella of EVOC and ECHF, Edinburgh Community Food and other partners are continuing to give excellent value for money in sourcing/delivering critical supplies to individuals, families and community groups who genuinely need it. For example, we are delivering a dignified range of essential food boxes and take and make meal packs which offer choice and seasonal produce.

“We understand that the funds are not bottomless but this cliff-edge approach will significantly impact people’s physical and mental health. We feel that there needs to be a more phased approach to assess ongoing needs and to migrate families onto a longer-term, more sustainable approach. 

"Local charitable organisations such as ECF do not have the reserves to replace this level of funding and the bottom line is that families and isolated individuals will go hungry."

The Scottish Government has yet to respond to TFN 24 hours after our first request.