Hartlepool MP appeals for town to help food bank this Christmas after year of ‘staggering’ demand

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill with food bank coordinator Abi Knowles on a visit to the charity in Church Street.
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill with food bank coordinator Abi Knowles on a visit to the charity in Church Street.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has hailed the ‘phenomenal’ work of the town’s food bank and urged people to donate what they can in the run-up to Christmas.

The charity in Church Street, which is part of a network of food banks of The Trussell Trust poverty charity, has given out enough food for more than 27,000 meals in the last 11 months.

But Mr Hill says demand has increased ‘dramatically’ in the last two years in part due to the Government’s Universal Credit, as people can wait several weeks for their first payment.

The MP paid a visit to Hartlepool Foodbank when he spoke to coordinator Abi Knowles volunteers and users of the service.

He said: “The work undertaken by Abi and her colleagues is phenomenal, and if it wasn’t for them many people and their families in Hartlepool would simply go hungry.

“Over the past 11 months over 27,000 meals have been handed out by the food bank, which is a staggering amount.

“The food bank has been going for six years now, but Abi tells me that the number of people coming through the door over the last two years has increased dramatically, and that Universal Credit has, without a doubt, contributed to those numbers.

“Sadly due to demand they are rapidly running out of supplies, and in the run-up to Christmas I would urge everyone to help out if they can and make a donation.

“Places like food banks should not exist in the world’s fifth-richest economy, but they do, and without them people would truly be struggling.

“I am grateful to Abi for showing me around and to The Trussell Trust and volunteers for being there to offer a warm cup of tea and a friendly chat to folk.”

The food bank recently held a three-day collection at Tesco Extra in Burn Road.

It has also been boosted by several sizeable and generous contributions from schools, Hartlepool Borough Council, and the Hartlepool United Supporters Trust.

At the start of October, Abi told the Mail how what used to be considered a busy week for them is now the norm.

Abi said: “It was great to meet Mike and I am so pleased he was able to meet some of our guests and find out a bit more about their personal situations.

“I’ve been working here for over two years and we have never been busier. It’s fantastic that our local MP took time out to come and see the work we do and show his support.”

Hartlepool Foodbank can receive donations during between 11.30am and 1.30pm on Tuesdays and Fridays, or at permanent collection points in Tesco Extra, Asda, Morrison’s, McColls on the Headland and Sainsbury’s local stores.