The Salvation Army is warning that one in five people might need to seek charitable support for the first time in their lives due to being unable to cope with the economic effect of the pandemic.
The charity has distributed over two million meals to people struggling to afford food since the first national lockdown. Speaking to Premier, Adrian Clee, the Salvation Army's emergency response officer said they want to address the root of the problem.
“We're interested in so much more than just giving out food parcels. That's the sticking plaster stuff, that's the emergency stuff. Moving beyond that, it's very much about the reasons behind that. Can we help people with debt advice? Can we help people with employment support to get back into work? It's not about a handout; it's about a hand-up.”
Since the first national lockdown, the Salvation Army has established 22 regional food hubs across the UK where they bulk buy food to then distribute between local centres and churches.
Although the government’s support for those most affected by the pandemic has partially mitigated its impact, Clee believes the government could do more to help the charitable sector address the real cause of the issues.
“Advice and employment support [are] really, really key. If the government could consider resources to support the voluntary sector in helping to deliver that, I think that would be really, really important. They've given money to help with food parcels and things, but let's look at really helping people to have the tools to move forward, not just the emergency stuff,” Clee continued.
When asked how Christians can be standing in solidarity with those suffering most, Clee said prayer for those volunteers and families struggling to have food on their tables would be appreciated.
“For our frontline officers, staff and volunteers… for resilience. Pray for people facing loneliness, people in poverty. Those people really are facing up to things for the first time [and] never in their wildest dreams thought that they would face unemployment,” Clee added.