FOOD BANK CLOSURE: Virus forces food bank’s sudden closure
An essential food bank serving one of Wolverhampton’s most deprived areas was forced to close at short notice this week, after two of its users tested positive for coronavirus.
The immediate closure of Ettingshall and Bilston Food Pantry in George Street, Ettingshall, was announced on Facebook on Tuesday evening, citing “unforeseen circumstances” for the decision.
However, the post on the Ettingshall Labour page left some residents fearing they would not be able to pick up much-needed supplies.
Organisers later came forward to say they had been forced to act swiftly by closing the centre and had sent out text messages and left voicemails for all users.
Posting on the page, Councillor Sandra Samuels (Lab. Ettingshall), who co-ordinates the running of the food bank with Cllr Zee Russell (Lab. Ettingshall), said they had received a message late on Tuesday evening informing them that two centre users had tested positive for Covid-19.
“We do keep a records of all users, names, addresses and contact details. If we did not get the opportunity to speak with you all personally we apologise,” she said in the post.
“As ward councillors (we) take the safety of our vulnerable residents and families very seriously.
“Please be mindful we have to follow Covid-19 guidance and put the safety of our users at the forefront. This is a seriously dangerous virus with devastating consequences within our communities.
“Two of our residents with links to (the) food pantry tested positive for coronavirus. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.
“(The) food pantry promptly closed its doors on Wednesday, January 20, for deep cleaning and allowing volunteers to be tested for the virus.”
Cllr Samuels added: “The food pantry will reopen on Wednesday, January 27, between 1.30pm and 4pm. We will continue to open once a week on Wednesdays between these times.”
One resident who has been a regular user of the food bank but did not wish to be named, said: “I understand that everyone is in a difficult situation with Covid-19 and the restrictions that lockdown has placed on us, but I really panicked when I saw the first post on Tuesday night because I didn’t know what had happened.
“I know a lot of people who value the efforts of those running the centre and rely on it far more than I do. I’m just really pleased that the right action has been taken now and the food bank can reopen.”
Joe Sweeney, Local Democracy Reporter
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