Demand for food packages, food vouchers and cooked meals has soared throughout the Covid-19 crisis, a community-based family support facility has said.
The vast majority of Family Resource Centres (FRCs) have experienced a sharp increase in demand for their services, with particularly high demand for parent and family supports, food parcels, and counselling and mental health services.
A survey released by the Family Resource Centre National Forum (FRCNF), shows that 83% of centres have experienced an increase in demand for their services over the past three months, with a significant majority seeing an increase demand of more than 25%.
Through a network of 121 centres, it supports families in communities experiencing poverty and disadvantage.
However, despite the demand almost all centres have seen a slump in their income.
Almost all centres are providing food packages, food vouchers or cooked meals to families in their local area, with some providing food for hundreds of families on a weekly basis.
They also provide activity packs for families and makes regular calls with vulnerable members of communities.
Many of the people working in the centres say Covid-19 has impacted on poverty, unemployment and social exclusion in communities while there are also serious concerns about the increase for mental health supports.
Clare Cashman, chairwoman of the FRCNF, said: “FRCs nationwide are experiencing significantly increased demand for their services and supports, at the same time as experiencing a decrease in income.
“There has been a sharp rise in demand for mental health supports, food and essential home supplies, activity packs for families, and check-in calls for vulnerable and isolated members of local communities.
“FRCs have adapted quickly in response to Covid-19 restrictions and to meet emerging needs within their local communities.
“FRCs are playing a central role in the local community response, and the Covid-19 pandemic has copper-fastened their significance as a source of essential support to thousands of families nationwide.
“In the months to come, as the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic becomes more apparent, FRCs must be adequately funded and resourced to meet the demand for their services.”