A FOODBANK which has donated more than 1,200 food parcels to needy people in Hartlepool in the last five months has now been officially opened.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright attended the grand opening and cut a ribbon over the entrance of Hartlepool Foodbank, in Church Street, to a round of applause from dozens of volunteers and organisations which have helped create the lifeline.
Mr Wright said: “I’ve got real mixed feelings about this.
“On one hand I think it shows the real generosity of people in Hartlepool and that they will got the extra mile to help their fellow citizens.
“It’s incredibly humbling.
“On the other hand though we shouldn’t be here today. “There shouldn’t be a need in the 21st Century for a foodbank and the need for people to have to ask for charity to be able to feed themselves and their families.
“It’s a disgrace really.
“However, this shows the best of Hartlepool. We will pull through these hard times because of people like those involved in schemes like this.
“I hope that the foodbank is not needed for a long time and we can carry on and prosper and thrive.”
Foodbank chair Clive Hall said: “The fact that we are open and have got this far is testament to all the hard work of volunteers and agencies.
“So many people have put so much work into this and for that we are truly grateful.”
The foodbank started helping Hartlepool’s most in need in December last year and has helped more than 1,000 families and individuals who have been unable to buy food for themselves. Some of them have even had to return for help.
The Mail played a part in helping to launch the scheme with its We Can Do It campaign after it was revealed that 28.6 per cent of Hartlepool children are living in poverty.
The campaign helped to generate over three tonnes of non-perishable food in the kitty before it started handing out food parcels to the most poverty-hit.
The centre is open between 11.30am and 1.30pm every Tuesday and Friday to allow people to drop off donations.
Asda, in Marina Way, allows shoppers to drop off their food donations in store for more convenience.
Those who need it most can be handed a parcel once they have been referred by organisations such as Hartlepool Borough Council, Hartlepool Families First, West View Advice and Resource Centre, and Housing Hartlepool.