Crewe corps supports vulnerable during pandemic
published on 2 Mar 2021
The Salvation Army Crewe corps is continuing to provide food parcels to struggling families, hot meals and a listening ear to rough sleepers, and reaching out to those feeling isolated during the pandemic.
Corps officer Major Steven Watson’s focus for the next few weeks is to help increase participation in the 2021 census, ensuring the homeless, asylum seekers and the elderly, who may struggle as the process moves online, are counted.
Major Steven said: “At the height of lockdown, we can be giving out 100 food parcels a month, double what we would usually be doing. We have a lot of families coming who we have not seen before, people going onto benefits for the first time and having to navigate the system, or waiting for their first payment of Universal Credit. They may have received an advanced payment, but then are not managing once the repayments for that start*.
“Our parcels are free thanks to generous donations from the public and we work closely with the social supermarket, where people can pay a small membership fee and get a basket of food, so that once people are receiving payments, but are still struggling, we can refer them on.
“Our worry is if the Government don’t extend the £20 uplift for Universal Credit in April. I think we will then be inundated with requests for help. For that money to suddenly disappear will be devastating.”
The Salvation Army have been vocal in their support for the £20 uplift to Universal Credit to be retained.
Before the pandemic, the Crewe corps hosted a drop in for around 30 people.
They are continuing to offer a restricted service for rough sleepers, asylum seekers in shared housing, and people they know who are isolated and struggling with their mental health.
Major Steven said: “We are still serving people we know need support, giving them a hot breakfast, help and advice accessing accommodation or a food or fuel voucher.
“It’s part of our calling to do this as Christians. There are lots of people in dire need at the moment; just because we are in a pandemic does not mean we give up on what we are called to do.”
For Major Steven it is about looking at individual situations and seeing how they can best help.
He said: “Before Christmas we were providing food for a teenager who had just left care and moved into his own flat. I am now beginning to build rapport with him, so I am encouraging him to volunteer with us to build his confidence and lessen those feelings of isolation.”
Major Steven is now working with the local authority to make sure that the elderly, homeless, asylum seekers and EU residents, who may be restricted either due to language barriers or access to technology, can take part in the 2021 Census in March.
He added: “For us it’s to make sure people are counted and the more vulnerable in society are less likely to be. We will be looking to distribute leaflets in numerous languages and using our resources at the corps building to help people get online.”
*The Salvation Army is calling for the Government to include Universal Credit Advance Payments in its Debt Respite Scheme. The Scheme is a 60-day ‘breathing space’ where enforcement action from creditors will be paused for people with problem debt. However, Government loans, (advance payments) are not included. Many rely on these loans to make ends meet while their claim is processed and the repayments are automatically deducted.