As COVID-19 spread around the world at an unprecedented pace, ensuring access to food and essential services was a vital concern for nations and communities. In Japan, actively helping those most in need became a nationwide mission taken up by a number of charities, including Second Harvest, Houkago After School Clubs and Central Community Chest of Japan, along with their corporate partners.
Second Harvest supplies meals and food kits to disadvantaged people across Japan through its national network of foodbanks. As the extent of the economic impact of COVID-19 became apparent, the charity quickly scaled up its operations, reaching out to members of Japanese society who might not otherwise have approached a foodbank for assistance.
This was possible thanks to the financial aid the foodbank received from corporate partners, including Barclays. Funding enabled Second Harvest to operate in more communities throughout the country, and engage directly with single-parent family and other groups at risk of experiencing the social and economic effects of the pandemic.
With Barclays support, Second Harvest was able to operate in more communities across the country.
With Barclays’ backing, Second Harvest extended its operations into Okinawa, one of the prefectures most acutely impacted by COVID-19, helping to serve over 1.5 million meals and supplying 20,000 food kits to households across Japan. The charity also distributed hygiene kits consisting of masks, sanitiser and hand soap, to help people play an active role in slowing the spread of the virus.
As the extent of the impact became clear, Second Harvest scaled up its operations to reach those affected.
Like Second Harvest, Houkago After School Clubs is an organisation that responded to the call to do more to help those people most adversely affected by the pandemic.
Many healthcare and key worker parents struggled to provide their children with regular support and care, due to their increased workloads throughout the pandemic and the closure of schools.
Thanks to funding from Barclays, Houkago After School Clubs has offered meals to over 5,000 children of essential workers, and trained its 2,588 team members and volunteers to master the art of online schooling, enabling over 9,400 children to continue their education with confidence.
“Houkago After School Clubs is a prime example of responding dynamically and thoughtfully to a crisis,” says Kentaro Kiso, President, Barclays Securities Japan. “By using Barclays’ financial aid and our Connect with Work training programmes to rapidly upskill their team, they’ll be able to support more children on their education journey for years to come.”
As part of its wide-reaching COVID-19 relief in Japan, Barclays also provided financial support to Tokyo-based charity, Central Community Chest of Japan, which operates across Japan.
The national Community Chest network provides on-the-ground support to people in need in underprivileged and remote areas. The donation from Barclays has helped it continue this vital work throughout 2020, providing over 200 disadvantaged children and young people who have lost their homes with shelter, essential services and much-needed mental health counselling, and emotional support for nearly 90 young immigrants who found themselves living in isolated conditions as a result of COVID-19.
Barclays’ partnership with these organisations is part of the bank’s ongoing commitment to support communities impacted by the pandemic, through its global £100m COVID-19 Community Aid Package. Barclays is actively supporting charities and non-profits across Asia Pacific that are working hard to help people deal with the immediate impacts of COVID-19, as well as manage post-pandemic recovery efforts.
“There was a complete consensus that in such trying and unusual times as these, the most useful thing we could do, would be to help the people and organisations like Second Harvest, Houkago After Schools Clubs and Central Community Chest of Japan, who were making tangible, positive and lasting differences to lives,” says Kosuke Morihara, Country Manager for Japan, Barclays.
Barclays is proud to be recognised by the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, which awarded the bank with the 2020 Responsible Business Award for “exceptional social programmes in Japan over the past 18 months”.
The bank will continue its support across Asia Pacific and Japan this year, with a renewed focus on economic and social recovery. This will include helping people who have found themselves unemployed as a result of the pandemic to retrain and re-enter the workforce, as well as exploring partnerships with organisations that can support the logistics of large-scale vaccination programmes.
When COVID-19 reached Japan, food security was of utmost importance. In response, Barclays joined forces with organisations in the country to provide financial support and food relief.