Food bank extends trial with butcher

Wansbeck Valley Food Bank project manager Linda Fugill.
Wansbeck Valley Food Bank project manager Linda Fugill.

A busy Northumberland initiative that supports people in need has extended a successful voucher scheme it trialled with a butcher.

Wansbeck Valley Food Bank has seen demand rise by more than 25 per cent over the last year, with 10,637 parcels containing three days’ worth of food, tea and coffee supplied to families in Morpeth, Pegswood, Lynemouth, Ashington and Newbiggin in 2016.

In order to provide more flexibility in the range of foods it can provide, it set up a trial with an Ashington butcher where vouchers were provided to clients to allow them a choice of fresh meat and other produce.

And now, after being put forward for a grant by Linda Fugill, project manager at Wansbeck Valley Food Bank, Newcastle Building Society has donated £1,000 for a further 360 £5 vouchers to extend the scheme to shops in Newbiggin and Morpeth.

Founded in 2012, Wansbeck Valley Food Bank is a registered charity and it employs five people, who are supported by a wider team of 30 volunteers.

Linda said: “The clients with whom we work are all referred to us and have to meet a specific set of criteria to qualify for support, and we’ve seen demand growing steadily over the four-and-a-half years that the service has been in place.

“The voucher scheme was introduced to provide families with an element of positive ownership and flexibility over the food they’re choosing to eat, improve their diet through providing fresh food and engage local businesses in supporting the work that we do. Analysis of the initial trial showed that it had been very successful on all fronts.

“With demand increasing and finances always tight, we simply wouldn’t have been able to extend this scheme without Newcastle Building Society’s support and we’re extremely grateful for being given the chance to carry on with a scheme that we know is working well.”

The charity generates stocks of basic dried and tinned foods through donations from various local churches, schools and community groups, as well as via supermarket collections – with balanced food parcels prepared with guidance from a food nutritionist.

Its support is provided via referrals from care professionals and other agencies across the area.

The funding has come from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the society’s branch network.

Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any branch.

Ivy Campbell, Ashington branch manager, said: “The food bank plays an essential role in enabling many local families to get a properly balanced diet.

“We support the communities in which we’re based, and we hope our support enables the team to achieve their objectives through extending this successful part of their operations.”

For more information on the charity’s work, visit www.wansbeckvalleyfoodbank.org