A FOODBANK hopes to help more people after it celebrated a move into new premises this week.
Billingham Foodbank, which has helped feed more than 700 people in its first year, has moved from the New Life Church to Billingham Town Centre.
It opened to the public for the first time on Tuesday after a previous official opening with local civic dignitaries.
Foodbank manager, the Reverend Kevin Hornsby, of the New Life Church, said: “We have managed to acquire a new building in the town centre which is larger than where we were previously.
“I think it is going to be far better in terms of people being able to find us.
“It is a lovely building and a really good environment for people to come in and use their vouchers for food.”
Like Hartlepool’s Foodbank, Billingham’s works with a network of frontline agencies who provide people in need of help with food vouchers.
They include JobCentre Plus, GPs and Citizens Advice Bureau.
Rev Hornsby, who runs the Foodbank with his wife, Hazael, and a team of volunteers, is expecting an increase in demand following the move.
That is due to its more central location at 4-6 West Precinct and also because of a series of changes to people’s benefits that come into force this month.
Rev Hornsby said: “The welfare reforms are going to create hardship for quite a lot of people.
“We believe demand will increase especially as we are now in the town centre, as people will become more aware of us.”
Billingham Foodbank opened around a year ago through the Christian charity the Trussell Trust.
In that time it has helped to feed around 750 people who suddenly found themselves in crisis.
Members of the public regularly donate food and local supermarkets support the project by organising collections.
Proceeds from a textile recycling bin in the car park at the New Life Church family centre also support the Foodbank project.
Billingham Foodbank is open every Tuesday and Thursday between 11am-2pm.