As the world grapples to contain the coronavirus, the COVID19 social impact is becoming clear. Rather than being the great leveller, we imagined, the pandemic is exacerbating the problems already plaguing thousands of people across the globe. People living in poverty struggle with lockdown, and police and charities working with victims of domestic abuse have experienced a surge in people contacting them. Schools providing meals for pupils warn that many kids are going hungry. In the US, the black community appears to be experiencing greater infection rates, and across the globe, the virus is ravaging communities already living in poverty. Britain, too, is displaying signs that the coronavirus pandemic is having a far more devastating effect on people out of work and on people already struggling with everyday life.
Food banks busier than ever since the start of the lockdown
Over the past few years, the number of people relying on food banks has been growing steadily, but the lockdown announced 23 March multiplied the demand for support. During its busiest period ever, food charity, Trussel Trust, handed out 50,000 food parcels within a week. The demand was such that some food banks had to shut their doors. Since then, stocks are sufficient again, but both opposition politicians and charities have called on the government to provide more support for families with children. Emma Revie, Chief Executive of Trussel Trust, said that although welcome, the supportive measures introduced by the government would not suffice to stop many people from “falling into hardship.”
Independent Food Aid Network‘s (IFAN) coordinator, Sabine Goodwin said that the solution was not in “in trying to distribute more food parcels but in providing sufficient income to the huge numbers of people impacted by this crisis and the poverty that preceded it.”
Parents struggle to access school meal vouchers
School closures have meant that thousands of kids who rely on schools for their main meals have been at risk of hunger. Teachers from across the UK told Sky News that the voucher scheme the government introduced was ‘a disaster’. Many teachers fear that some pupils are going hungry with some taking it upon themselves to organise food deliveries in their local area. Although the Department of Employment insists that the voucher scheme is working, parents and teachers reported difficulties in logging into the system and redeeming codes.
COVID19 social impact – domestic abuse rises sharply
Since the start of the lockdown, the UK’s leading domestic abuse charity, Refuge, reported a sevenfold increase in the number of calls received from victims in one day. 25 per cent more perpetrators wishing to change their behavioural pattern got in touch.
The government has pledged to support victims urging them to seek help as part of their #YouAreNotAlone social media campaign. Speaking during a daily government coronavirus briefing, Priti Patel said:
“Coronavirus has opened Britain’s enormous heart and shown our love and compassion for one another as we come together to help those most in need. I am now asking this nation to use that amazing compassion and community spirit to embrace those trapped in the horrific cycle of abuse.”