New Bishop of Durham visits ‘amazing’ Hartlepool foodbank

THE new Bishop of Durham who has pledged to tackle poverty praised the work “amazing” work of Hartlepool’s foodbank on a whistle-stop visit to the town.

The Right Reverend Paul Butler visited users and volunteers of the charity in Church Street, Hartlepool, yesterday.

The Bishop of Durham Paul Butler pictured with Clive Hall of the Hartlepool Foodbank charity.

The Bishop of Durham Paul Butler pictured with Clive Hall of the Hartlepool Foodbank charity.

While he hailed the fantastic work being done to help scores of families on the breadline, he said it was “desperately sad” they were needed in the first place.

Bishop Butler, who formally took up his new role at the start of the week, previously described poverty as the “scourge” of society.

He was invited to see Hartlepool Foodbank in action by Reverend Norman Shave, of All Saints Church in Stranton.

Bishop Butler said: “I’m in Hartlepool to begin discovering about my diocese and meeting clergy and local people.

“I think foodbanks are an amazing piece of work, a number of volunteers, churches and community groups are behind them.

“I think it is desperately sad that we are in a situation where we need them but they are an incredible piece of work.

“Hartlepool has fantastic volunteers and are incredibly well organised.

“I’ve been talking to some of the clients and hearing about he absolutely vital nature of what the foodbank does to help them in the short term when they are in desperate need.”

Clive Hall, a volunteer and chairman of the foodbank’s trustees, welcomed the visit.

He said: “The fact that he visited us when he had only just started in the role is a privilege.”

Bishop Butler led a group of 26 Church of England bishops who recently wrote an open letter to David Cameron claiming there is a national crisis that is causing malnutrition and poverty.

They blamed it on ‘delays’ and ‘punitive sanctions’ against benefits claimants.

The Mail reported on Monday how Hartlepool Foodbank had experienced its busiest month ever in January as demand continues to rise.

In one day alone it gave food handouts to 40 families and around half a tonne of food is being given out every week.