Hartlepool Foodbank appeals for help to collect three tonnes of food for people dealing with Universal Credit 'chaos'

Hartlepool Foodbank hopes to collect three tonnes of food during an upcoming collection as it braces itself for its busiest time of the year.

Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 6:00 am
Hartlepool Foodbank Coordinator Abi Knowles.

Volunteers for the Trussell Trust run charity, based in Church Street have already provided emergency food support to more than 4,100 people in Hartlepool this year including almost 1,300 children.

Between Thursday, November 21 and Saturday, November 23, from 9am-5pm the team will set up stall at Tesco in Burn Road for their annual collection to boost stocks over Christmas.

Abi Knowles, Hartlepool Foodbank coordinator, said: “Our annual collection at Tesco is vitally important for us as it sees us through the Christmas period – always our busiest – and into the New Year.

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This month's Tesco collection aims to collect up to three tonnes of food.

“We regularly serve upwards of 100 people a session over the Christmas period and it's a time of year when many people find they simply can't make ends meet.

“Last year we raised three tonnes of donations from this collection and we're hoping to equal this to help us start 2020 with a full warehouse.”

Job loss, illness and bereavement are among reasons why clients are referred to them for help.

But Abi added: “However by far and away the main reason for people being referred to Foodbank is Universal Credit and the chaos that this is bringing to people.

Abi Knowles, Foodbank, Church Street, Hartlepool.

“The five week waiting period for money means people get into arrears with rent or mortgage, council tax and bills and have to spend a long time in debt until they catch up.

“We have also seen people who have resorted to loan sharks to get over this waiting period, which obviously causes dangerous situations for people in the long term.”

She said referrals have shot up since the introduction of Universal Credit and their focus has moved from providing emergency support to longer term including people who work also affected.

“The cases we're seeing are vastly more complicated and drawn out than they were a couple of years ago and people are needing to use Foodbank for weeks and months rather than days to get over their crisis,” said Abi.

Helpers are needed throughout the Tesco collection. Tasks include giving out shopping lists to customers, taking donations sorting and storing donated food in the food bank’s warehouse.

To volunteer email [email protected] or phone (01429) 598404.