FOODBANKS in south Warwickshire are preparing for the escalation of the coronavirus crisis.
Foodbanks in both Stratford and Warwick say neither staff nor stocks have yet been hit but contingency plans are being put in place with the outbreak predicted to worsen.
Stratford manager Marion Homer said the ‘challenge would be considerable’ but it would continue to help those in need of the charity’s service.
To minimise the risk of spread the foodbank is asking customers to visit the cabin – which operates from Tesco car park in Birmingham Road – alone if possible.
Numbers of people entering the cabin will be limited and it is advised a two metre distance is kept between customers and volunteers.
To speed up transactions, volunteers will not be offering signposting advice or tea and biscuits for the time being.
Marion said: “As long as the government advice suggests that staying open is acceptable we will do all we can to keep our four sessions going.
“We remind everyone that we are a small independent charity, we receive no government or local authority funding. We will of course do all we can to help our referral partners help those in crisis but please remember that as a charity with 100 volunteers and one paid manager the challenges over the next few weeks will be considerable.
“We will of course be subject to ensuring we have a minimum number volunteers to be operational. If we are affected by sickness we may have to cancel sessions at short notice and we apologise if clients arrive to find we are not open.
“The most important message we can give out at the moment is that we really need food donations to hold up so please keep dropping food in the collections baskets.”
And Warwick Foodbank has been training extra volunteers should anybody be affected by illness.
Manager Andy Bower said: “We are rather fortunate at the moment but we are organising relief sessions and will try to carry on with a skeleton staff if our volunteers are affected. I’m also training up the chair of our trustees to be able to host a session if one of our leaders goes down.
“I’ve not seen any drop off for donations and our primary concern is still the impact of universal credit has on the increasing number of service users.”
National foodbank charity the Trussel Trust – which supports the organisations – says it is monitoring the situation closely but in the meantime foodbanks will continue to provide support wherever possible.
So far ten people have died in the UK from the virus including one person from Warwickshire.
Visit warwickdistrict.foodbank.org.uk and the Stratford upon Avon Foodbank Facebook page for details and updates.