Food bank is branching out

A PROJECT that supports struggling residents in Morpeth is expanding to meet an increase in demand.

The Wansbeck Food Bank began last year to help people in financial crisis and three distribution centres are up and running, including one at the New Life Christian Centre in Dacre Street on Tuesday afternoons.

The most recent addition was a venue in Newbiggin and part of an old Co-op building in Ashington is now being used to store items.

Charities have warned the Government that the number of people using food banks across the UK has grown rapidly over the last 12 months.

A sharp increase in the cost of basic foodstuffs and heating a home has hit many people hard during a period in which most incomes have risen only marginally or not at all.

The Wansbeck scheme is organised by up to 30 churches of all denominations across south-east Northumberland. People will be sent to centres via a referral system and given enough food to last three or four days and they can apply for assistance three times.

Minister Mike Willis, of the New Life Christian Centre, said: “We are seeing more people coming through to us and we have mixed feelings because it’s good to be able to help these people, but also sad because asking for food is indicative of the problems they are facing in their lives.

“Citizens’ Advice has been excellent in referring people to us and now we’re trying to get the message out to doctors and social workers that they can play a part in directing those who are really struggling to the food bank.

“Some people don’t like to ask for help, but we want them to feel that they will receive support without prejudice and in a comfortable environment and hopefully once they have come through their crisis, they will no longer need to ask for food.

“Ultimately, our aim is to have somewhere open every single day of the week and we’re looking to find locations in Wansbeck villages such as Pegswood and Lynemouth.”

Donations are always welcome. Items required include UHT or powdered milk, cartons of fruit juice, soup, pasta sauces, cereal, tea bags, instant coffee, instant mash, rice, pasta, jam and biscuits or snack bars, as well as tins of meat, fish, tomatoes, rice pudding and fruit.

For more information, call Mr Willis on 01670 511778.