A crisis appeal has been issue by Wansbeck Valley Food Bank as demand soars for its support.
The volunteer-led service, which provides emergency food parcels for families and individuals in need, has seen demand for provisions more than double in the last 12 months, leaving its Morpeth store shelves bare as more food goes out than donations are coming in.
A total of 1,010 bags of food were given out by the service last year, but this year more than 1,500 parcels have gone out already, and the rise in referrals is continuing.
Project Manager Linda Fugill said: “It has been quite dire. We are getting about a tonne of food in each month in donations, which makes up about 145 to 150 parcels, but we are giving out about 250 parcels a month.
“In the first six months of this year, we have given out more food than the whole of last year. The need has just gone through the roof.
“We are now in a position where we are having to raise money to buy food and we have been making funding applications for support.”
The food bank was initially set up in Morpeth and Ashington in December 2012 after local churches noticed more people coming to them for help. A distribution centre in Newbiggin was later established and more recently the service has expanded to Lynemouth and Pegswood, with Widdrington Station set to come on board next month.
Welfare professionals refer people in need, who can then attend a distribution centre to collect their bag of food, which is designed to last for at least three days.
It is estimated that £34,700 worth of food has been distributed to date. In order to meet the increasing need, around £15,000 will have to be spent next year to supplement the donations.
Mrs Fugill said: “I think there is a combination of reasons why the demand has increased. There is more need and I don’t think the benefits situation is improving for anybody, but also we have opened in Lynemouth and Pegswood so it is more accessible to people.
“If we can’t collect more food, we need people to support us financially. A typical food parcel costs about £15 so we would like people to see if they could maybe make a monthly donation of that money to buy a bag of food.
“It is lovely to receive one-off donations, but once they are gone we are struggling again so we are trying to encourage people to give regularly.
“There is still a lot of need. It is across the board and we are seeing more families with young children seeking help.
“Wansbeck Valley Food Bank remains dedicated to serving local residents in crisis, but we cannot hope to achieve this without the support of the wider community.”
• Donations of food and funds will be welcomed in equal measure at the Wansbeck Valley Food Bank.
Food donations should take the form of tinned products, such as vegetables, beans, spaghetti, soup, tuna, meat or fruit.
Other long-life foods are also welcome. Tea bags, dried or UHT milk, dried potato, pasta sauce, jam, marmalade, rice pudding, custard, sponge pudding, biscuits and cereal bars are ideal.
They can be deposited at the New Life Christian Centre warehouse in Dacre Street, Morpeth, or at the Ashington Development Trust shop in Woodhorn Road.
In addition, there is a collection basket at Morpeth’s Morrison’s store.
Cash donations, which will be used to bulk buy food, can be posted to Wansbeck Valley Food Bank, 24 Dacre Street, Morpeth, NE61 1HW. UK taxpayers are invited to complete a Gift Aid declaration to enable tax to be reclaimed on the donation.
People in need of support can access the food bank via a referral from a GP, health visitor, Citizens’ Advice Bureaux or other welfare professionals.
Food parcels can then be collected at the following centres:
l New Life Christian Centre, Morpeth, Tuesdays and Fridays, 2pm to 4pm.
l Lynemouth Resource Centre, Bridge Road, Mondays, 9.15am to 11.15am.
l Pegswood Community Hub, Longhirst Road, Wednesdays, 2pm to 4pm.
l Ashington Holy Sepulchre Church, North Road, Mondays and Thursdays, 10am to noon.
l St Bartholomew’s Church, Newbiggin, Wednesdays, 11am to 1pm.
A centre will open at ATAC in Mile Road, Widdrington, next month.
For more information, visit www.wansbeckvalleyfood bank.org or call 07841 908477.