The social housing provider Accent Housing has launched a sector-wide campaign to raise money for food banks during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Yorkshire-based provider’s More Than Homes campaign aims to raise £1m for the charity the Trussell Trust, which runs a network of 1,200 food banks across the UK and is facing a huge surge in demand for its services during the coronavirus outbreak.
The campaign – which has already received support from a number of regional and national housing bodies – calls on the housing sector to help people in their communities experiencing poverty and hunger.
Paul Dolan, chief executive of Accent, says that the housing sector’s social purpose has ‘never been clearer’ than at the present moment.
Dolan said: “Vast numbers of people will be facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and our organisations are right on the frontline.
“Battling the economic impact of the crisis today isn’t something that can be achieved by government or any organisation working alone. It demands the collective power of people and organisations uniting to meet the challenges our society faces.
“We need to work to right this social imbalance by not only supporting people in the now, but also thinking strategically and as a collective for the longer-term.”
The More Than Homes campaign comes as need has surged for the Trussell Trust’s food banks, which had been experiencing rising demand even before the COVID-19 crisis.
The charity experienced an 81% surge in demand year-on-year for emergency food parcels during the last two weeks of March this year, while the number of parcels given to children rose by 122%.
75% of the money raised through the ‘More than Homes’ campaign will be distributed directly to local food banks. The Trussell Trust will use the remaining 25% to fund other areas of its activity such as managing volunteers and distributing food parcels door-to-door.
The campaign has already gained support from housing bodies and associations including the National Housing Federation, the Chartered Institute for Housing and the Northern Housing Consortium.
Gavin Smart, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “Food banks already provide a critical service to households across the country, and the need for this vital support has increased significantly as a result of the current outbreak. As social landlords housing associations play a central role in supporting communities they work with.
“This initiative will build on that social purpose and local presence to help foodbanks rise to the huge challenge created by coronavirus. I look forward to more housing associations joining those who have already committed to this initiative and helping the Trussell Trust to support as many people as possible through this unprecedented crisis.”
Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, commented: “We’re working round the clock with our network to understand each food bank’s situation, offer guidance, and work out how we can best support them. The resilience of food banks is nothing short of outstanding.
“We know we can’t do this alone, so we are truly grateful for any support housing associations can give in these incredibly difficult times.”
There is no suggested minimum or maximum donation to More than Homes as all contributions to the campaign will be gratefully received.
Photo: Paul Dolan, chief executive of Accent Housing. Credit: Accent Housing