THE Mail has launched its We Can Do It campaign backing calls for food donations to help feed hard-up families.
With more and more people plunged into financial crisis - the town’s first foodbank will soon open its doors.
Vouchers will be given to the poverty-hit to claim a three-day food parcel.
And today we are giving our full backing to Churches Together and UK-charity Trussell Trust who are calling for donations of three tonnes of food to feed the poor.
Supermarket giant Asda in the town’s Marina Way was the first to back our charge with a gift of £150 worth of food – and you can join in the drive.
From Tuesday, a unit will be opened in the town’s Church Street where the charity runs from, where you can drop off non-perishable goods, such as pasta, rice and tins.
Every little helps and all your donations will be made up into hampers.
The boxes will then be handed out at a distribution centre based in Church Street.
From there, people in crisis will be able to collect the food parcels, which will contain enough produce to last for three days, after being issued with vouchers from the likes of GPs, social workers, church leaders and also the JobCentre.
Figures show 28.6 per cent of Hartlepool children are living in poverty, and this scheme will help those most in need.
Town leaders say the foodbank is especially crucial at a time of funding cuts and changes to the welfare system.
The distribution centre, at 28 Church Street, will open for the first time on Tuesday, October 2, between 11am and 1pm, and this is the first chance for people to donate non-perishable food items.
Organisers need to collect three tonnes of food before Hartlepool Foodbank can start handing out food parcels and the aim is to be up and running before Christmas.
Churches Together is a collaboration of volunteers from many churches across the town and they have been instrumental in setting up the foodbank.
Al Wales, Hartlepool Foodbank co-ordinator, said: “Through no fault of their own, there are people in Hartlepool struggling to put food on the table.
“The foodbank is about helping families in crisis and it is about listening to people.
“The whole process is very dignified, and there is a massive need out there.
“The nutritionally balanced, discreet food parcels last for three days and people are eligible for three referrals within the space of six months.
“The aim is not to make people dependent on the foodbank, but to help those in crisis. I’m really pleased we have the backing of the Mail.”
Organisers have stressed that the foodbank is a referral system, and people cannot just turn up when it does open.
There are trained volunteers available to listen to problems, and also to signpost people to further support.
Staff at Asda supermarket, in Marina Way, were among the first to donate goods.
Joanne Tweddle, Asda’s community colleague, said: “We are very pleased that we can help out in this way.
“We can’t help everybody, but we are very keen to support as many people as possible.”
Mrs Wales added: “It is absolutely fantastic that Asda has already pledged its support. Up and down the country we have supermarkets that make donations.”
Nationally, Tesco has also pledged its support to host collection days and also provide vouchers to stock up the foodbank.
Bosses at Middleton Grange Shopping Centre have also pledged to make a unit available to use as a warehouse to store the food free of charge.
Foodbank volunteers will also be in the Central Square in the shopping centre, in the week beginning November 12, to collect non-perishable food items from shoppers.
● THE Mail’s campaign aims to encourage as many people as possible to contribute items to the Hartlepool Foodbank.
Al Wales, Hartlepool Foodbank co-ordinator, said there are also several other ways that people can help: either by donating food, making a financial donation, holding a fundraising event or by volunteering.
Examples of the food desperately needed are dried or UHT milk, sugar, soup, pasta and sauces to go with it, tins containing tomatoes, meat, vegetables, fruit, sponge or rice puddings, tea bags, cereals, coffee and anything else not needing refrigeration.
Hartlepool Foodbank is in urgent need of volunteers to man the warehouse and distribution centre, to help with administration and fundraising and to collect food.
For more information or to volunteer, call Al Wales on 07857 845937.
● Let us know what you plan to do. Ring the Mail newsdesk on (01429) 239381, email the newsdesk or tweet #MailCanDoIt