Hartlepool Foodbank given £10k boost by council after ‘sharp drop in donations’

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher.
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher.

Hartlepool Foodbank is to get a £10,000 boost by the council after a ‘sharp drop in donations’.

Hartlepool Council finance and policy committee approved the motion by council leader, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, to give the charity extra funding heading into the Christmas period.

Hartlepool's Food Bank co-ordinator Abi Knowles at the centre

Hartlepool's Food Bank co-ordinator Abi Knowles at the centre

Coun Shane Moore, who volunteers at the food bank, said: “I’m glad this has come through, I really welcome it. There has been a sharp drop in donations to the food bank.

“I understand people have come in to the food bank who had delayed coming in previously when they desperately needed to.

“A lot of this comes from negative connotations and language used around food banks. The food bank is there to support people in crisis.”

He added: “Often people think they have to be on benefits or homeless when in fact many working families are one large bill from being in crisis and unable to put food on the table.”

Hartlepool Borough Council is the single biggest referring agency to the food bank, at 28 Church Street, and awards in excess of 40 vouchers per week to families.

Coun Brenda Harrison said: “They do some very good things at the food bank. We need to look at our whole approach and letting people know exactly what the food bank does and who they are.

“There’s people who think you can just go along and get what you want and be done with it, but it’s for people in crisis. There’s certain criteria to be met and people need to know that.”

Coun Akers-Belcher said the money would come from the council’s family and poverty reserve.

He said: “They are becoming increasingly concerned with donations and I think it’s right to give them a further £10,000.

“We’re lucky to have this food bank in Hartlepool. We need to continue to lobby for support in this area.”

The council leader also proposed to compile research on families in need in Hartlepool and the impact budget cuts have had on the area.

Addiotionally councillors agreed to increase the amount paid to Hartlepool Foodbank each year from its local welfare support scheme from £8,000 to £10,000 starting in 2019/2020.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service