Published: Friday, 24 April 2020

As lockdown continues, many across the city face hardship. But the clear message from Oxford City Council and its partners is that no-one should go hungry, with a huge effort underway to provide help.

Since it launched on 26 March 2020, the most frequent request to Oxford City Council’s emergency support centre has been for assistance with food and essential supplies.

Council staff responding to requests for help have heard of worrying conditions for some in our community:

  • A mother of two called for help, reporting that she’d regularly been skipping her own meals so there was enough for her children.
  • For one man, recently unemployed, he had just a few pieces of bread and butter left in the house and had no money or support to obtain more food.
  • One spoke of how due to self- isolation  they were not able to shop and had no family or friends to help, leaving her stuck without essential items.
  • Help is available. So far over 636 referrals have been made to receive urgent supplies and 535 referrals have been made to help with collecting/delivering shopping.  To date, each week around 800 supplies of emergency food - including both parcels and collections from community larders - have been made, an estimated total of over 3,000 across the four weeks of operation.

Those who have been referred for assistance receive a call from a member of staff to discuss their needs and how to help - delivery of an emergency food parcel, signposting to local Community Larders, support with accessing online shopping, to a volunteer working to purchase and deliver shopping so they can stay safe at home. 

“I have heard of some worrying situations for some in our community and I want to be clear that help is available. Together with our partners we are making a huge effort to ensure that no-one in Oxford goes hungry.

“Call our helpline on 01865 249 811 and ask for assistance - whether that is a food parcel or collecting and delivering some shopping. If you’re worried about someone else, get in touch.

“Council staff, our community partners and volunteers are working around the clock to ensure that you get the help you need.”

Councillor Linda Smith, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure and Housing

How to get in touch to ask for help

If you need help with food or essential supplies, call the Contact Centre on 01865 249 811 or submit an online form, available on our Community Assistance page.

Free school meals

For families with children eligible for free school meals, their school is still required to provide support, even if they are closed. Some schools may still be providing meals or food parcels.  For those not able to continue to provide actual meals, a national voucher scheme has been introduced, providing a £15 allowance per child per week. 

Check if your child is eligible for free school meals using the Government website and speak to your child’s school directly to find out what provision they are making.

Community Larders

Community Larders are still open across the city for urgent and emergency food supplies.  People are urged to use them only if they are in real need, resources are limited. Social distancing rules must be strictly followed. Please contact 01865 249811 for more details.

How you can help others at this time of need

 If you do not need assistance but want to help those in our community, you can:

  • Check up on your neighbours, friends and family to ensure they have what they need and offer to help if you can. Cook a meal or do some shopping, while following social distancing and hygiene rules. 
  • Donate food items– particularly staple items – at food bank collection points when you visit your local supermarket (but do not travel unnecessarily).
  • If you’re worried about someone, you can refer them for assistance by calling the Contact Centre on 01865 249 811 or submit an online form, available our Community Assistance page.

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