When COVID-19 reached Japan’s shores, food security was of utmost importance, especially for vulnerable communities and those on the front lines. In response, Barclays joined forces with organisations across the country to provide financial support and food relief.
In the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa, many residents were experiencing financial difficulties due to unprecedented social and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Some were made redundant or had their working hours reduced, while others struggled to provide lunch for their children when schools were closed.
Together with Second Harvest, a nationwide food bank, Barclays served cooked meals and distributed dry rations to 20,000 households in Okinawa. This support helped the prefecture address the lack of food security — an issue heightened by the pandemic.
For childcare service Houkago NPO After School, a major concern was serving food to children during school closures following Japan’s ‘soft lockdown’. Barclays’ support enabled Houkago to distribute 30,000 hot meals to children of healthcare workers and 20,000 hot meals to other children at the childcare service. Moreover, Houkago was able to continue its essential services throughout the lockdown.
Barclays also partnered with the Central Community Chest of Japan, an organisation based in Tokyo that coordinates Community Chests in 47 prefectures. These local Community Chests address community issues, offering on-the-ground support even for those in the remotest areas. Through Barclays’ financial aid, the organisation mobilised paid staff and volunteers to serve those most in need as a result of the pandemic.
These efforts have been recognised by the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, granting Barclays with the 2020 Responsible Business Award for “exceptional social programmes in Japan over the past 18 months”.
In 2021, Barclays is looking to refocus its efforts from relief to recovery, helping those who lost jobs because of the pandemic regain employment and supporting entrepreneurs who aim to solve environmental and social challenges.
Barclays is also working to address food security in the wider Asia-Pacific region by double matching colleague donations to nominated food charities throughout December 2020 and January 2021, as part of our £100m COVID-19 Community Aid Package. Selected charity partners include Habitat for Humanity in Australia, Bo Charity Foundation Limited – Food Angel Program in Hong Kong, United Way of Mumbai in India, Second Harvest in Japan, and The Food Bank in Singapore.
Other institutions and industry bodies across Asia Pacific have also acknowledged these initiatives in the region. In Hong Kong, Barclays has been honoured with the Award of Distinction from the Community Chest of Hong Kong for contributions to communities affected by COVID-19.
In Singapore, for the third time in a row, Barclays has received the YMCA-Lim Kim San Volunteer Special Achievement Award for ongoing work to support our communities in the country. Also for the third time in a row, Barclays was given the Champions of Good 2020 Award in recognition of exemplary giving and contribution to society, collaborating with charity partners, social entrepreneurs, and experts in digital platforms to support individuals who want to get into the workforce.
“Barclays has a long-standing commitment to supporting our communities and an important duty to help our customers, clients, and the most vulnerable through the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is humbling that our charity partnerships and colleagues’ efforts are being recognised across the region, and we will continue to harness the power of our £100m COVID-19 Community Aid Package to ensure that tangible support is getting to those who need it most,” said Jaideep Khanna, Head of Barclays, Asia Pacific.
Social enterprises across the U.S. are on the front lines of the pandemic response. Through Acumen America's COVID-19 Emergency Fund, Barclays is helping them meet community needs.