Hartlepool food bank launches new signposting service after expanding with unit in shopping centre

Hartlepool Foodbank is launching a new project in Middleton Grange shopping centre to help clients and people across the town access help for a range of social issues.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 11:45 am

Hands Up For Hartlepool is a new signposting, advice and information service opening this month after food bank managers were given a vacant unit in the shopping centre.

Organisations like Citizens Advice, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and Thirteen housing group can use it to hold advice sessions and events to meet with their clients in relaxed and easy to access place.

The food bank previously held drop-ins with outside agencies at their base in Church Street, but as the charity became more busy there was not enough space.

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Hartlepool Foodbank co-ordinator Abi Knowles (centre) with Julie Jongen and Josh Cash from The Ugly Fruit Group in the new MIddleton Grange unit. Picture by FRANK REID.

Abi Knowles, co-ordinator of Hartlepool Foodbank, said: “We work with over 80 agencies across the town working with anything from debt, mental health support, physical health and housing.

“To bring everybody together in a central space in the town centre we thought would be a really good opportunity.”

Numerous organisations interested in the project attended an open day including Hartlepool Carers, Harbour, Thirteen Group and Lifestyle North East which provides bespoke services for people with disabilities.

Also hoping to get involved is Durham University project The Ugly Fruit Group which turns fruit and vegetables that would be thrown away into snacks and preserves, half of which they donate to the food bank.

Representatives from numerous community organisations visited Hands Up For Hartlepool to learn about the new service. Picture by FRANK REID.

Josh Cash, 20, of the project, said: “We would like to set up cooking workshops and courses for people that use the food bank and it would be a great opportunity to do that here.”

Hands Up For Hartlepool will be open every Wednesday between 10am and 2pm and a timetable of agencies using the space will be displayed in the window.

People can drop in or be referred by the various agencies involved.

Abi added: “As we develop we'll also become a space to hold one off and seasonal events like school uniform banks.”

Hands Up for Hartlepool is run upstairs in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre. Picture by FRANK REID.

She praised Middleton Grange bosses for giving them the unit located upstairs near The Galleries cafe.

The project is also looking for volunteers to help run it. Call (01429) 598404 or email [email protected]