Project is seeking support

Mike Willis is collecting and distributing food parcels from the New Life Christian Centre in Morpeth.
Mike Willis is collecting and distributing food parcels from the New Life Christian Centre in Morpeth.

A SERVICE that helps Morpeth residents in major financial difficulties to feed themselves and their family is asking various organisations to support its work.

The Wansbeck Valley Food Bank began last year and the project area includes communities either side of the River Wansbeck – the main places are Ashington, Morpeth and Newbiggin, but it also covers people living in villages as far north as Hadston and as far south as Stannington.

Three distribution centres, including the one at the New Life Christian Centre in Dacre Street, are run by volunteers who give out parcels containing sufficient food for three days worth of balanced meals appropriate to the needs of the family or individual. The items are donated by members of the public.

This is a stop-gap supply while a long-term solution is sought for the recipients. Parcels are directed to the most needy via a number of associated professional referrers.

At a meeting of Morpeth Town Council, Project Manager Linda Fugill and fund-raiser Sean Fugill did a presentation and they revealed that, on average, 30 to 40 people are being helped every four weeks. It is hoped that this figure will go up to 75 by the end of December, which would be about 1,000 per year.

Mrs Fugill said: “We have a real challenge in making our service known to those in need, so we’re asking councils and other community groups to encourage people to use our referrers and help us recruit more volunteers as well as if they can provide grants to go towards our operating costs.”

Other statistics included that Morpeth residents make up 27 per cent of referrals.

Coun Andrew Tebbutt said: “The number of Morpeth referrals is quite shocking to me. It’s harder to help when deprivation is hidden.

“I’m sure we will look closely at what we can do to support the food bank team with its work.”