Charity hands out 23 TONNES of food in Hartlepool during 2013 – and need even more for next year

Volunteer worker Bethany McNeeley shown stacking shelves at the Hartlepool Foodbank.
Volunteer worker Bethany McNeeley shown stacking shelves at the Hartlepool Foodbank.

A CHARITY to help needy families on the bread line has handed out a staggering 23 tonnes of food in Hartlepool this year – and managers are expecting next year to be even busier.

Hartlepool Foodbank, which was set up in response to people who cannot make ends meet because of the recession and benefit cuts, has given food handouts to more than 4,000 people in just over a year.

Managers of the charity run by volunteers have

praised the generosity of people in Hartlepool - but expect demand to be even higher in 2014.

Al Wales, manager of Hartlepool Foodbank said: “Overall we have given out a staggering 23 tonnes of food this year and unfortunately, due to the on-going financial climate, we are expecting to have to issue even more in the year ahead.

“Unfortunately, as the number of families living on the bread line continues to increase we are expecting to be busier than ever this year.”

Since opening in Church Street in December last year, Hartlepool Foodbank has handed out 2,046 food vouchers for three days’ worth of food for 4,391 people, a third of whom have been children under 17.

“This covers just over 1,300 households across all of the 11 electoral wards,” added Al.

The main reasons for people needing the foodbank are delays and changes to their benefits, low income, and debt.

But they are not the only reasons, Al added: “Rising living costs, job loss, illness, relational tensions, mental health, and other unforeseen circumstances means that people from all walks of life have received support from the Foodbank.”

Before its launch the foodbank stockpiled around five tonnes of food.

But with up to half a tonne leaving 28 Church Street every two to three sessions they soon get through this.

The project, run by the Trussell Trust church charity, works with 38 front-line agencies from across the town to reach those in need.

Al also hailed the project as a “true community initiative” with support from Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, schools, council, Asda and Tesco supermarkets, and the Mail’s We Can Do It campaign, Heerema and Hillcarter Hotel.

Foodbank has been run this year by a dedicated team of 40 volunteers from all walks of life.

The foodbank, is supported by a team of 40 volunteers, and is currently looking for a van to help transport food.

Al said: “Whilst we all hope that one day foodbanks will no longer be required I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”