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16 December 2014, 07:01
Around 25,000 people will benefit from a County Durham foodbank which is being expanded through a £400,000 Lottery grant.
The grant to the Durham Christian Partnership comes from the Big Lottery Fund which is responsible for giving out 40 per cent of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
The Partnership is one of ten organisations sharing £2.7 million which is being awarded across the North East.
Other areas receiving awards include Northumberland, North and South Tyneside, Tyne & Wear, Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, Bedlington and Staindrop.
Families and individuals struggling to live on low or reduced income and people with unmanageable debt are referred to the Durham Christian Partnership by a wide variety of organisations including Citizens Advice Bureaus, NHS, the local authority, Jobcentre Plus and Age UK.
The partnership provides a voucher which can be taken to a distribution point where emergency food is provided.
The funding will enable the partnership to increase its emergency food distribution points in more rural areas and create an additional 60 volunteer posts. In addition, trained advisers will offer help with debt and welfare.
The partnership estimates that over the next three years the foodbank will benefit at least 25,000 people based on the current levels of use, and the debt advice service will support up to 500 people.
Peter MacLellan, Chair of Trustees of Durham Christian Partnership, said:
"In three years the foodbank has grown from one distribution point to 25 and provided three days of food to more than 15,000 people in the last 12 months - up from 10,803 in the previous 12 months.
Low income, debt and issues with the benefit system have been the major causes of crisis.
Many people are only one pay cheque away from a financial crisis, so attendees can come from all backgrounds, the homeless, people in affluent neighbourhoods, people who have never needed benefits, those who are dependent on them.
We hear tragic stories, a young mother grieving over the sudden death of her partner, family breakdowns, people dealing with serious illness, unsustainable debt, and people feeling suicidal out of a sense of failure. Often the cause of their crisis is completely outside their control.
Recognising that a food crisis is usually a symptom of other challenges faced by people, the foodbank is keen to extend the support it provides to help address the underlying needs and ensure that those attending it get all the support they need.
This grant from the Big Lottery Fund will help us to achieve this aim, restoring some measure of hope and confidence to people who find themselves in a very difficult time."
Meanwhile, Northumberland-based charity DAWN receives £428,950 to continue a free telephone debt advice service that will help people across the North East, from Berwick to Redcar & Cleveland, as well as Cumbria, to preserve their home, fuel supply and make them more aware of their rights and responsibilities.
Advisors will contact creditors to negotiate on their behalf and stop or manage enforcement action taken by creditors such as eviction, bailiffs or court proceedings.
Disadvantaged young people in South Tyneside struggling with multiple problems will benefit from a £458,950 grant to Escape Intervention Services which works with young carers, domestic violence victims, youngsters coping with abandonment, with poor mental health and a history of drug misuse.
Activities will include first aid, cookery, trampolining bowling, swimming, gym courses, DJ workshops, trips out including abseiling, walking, orienteering, fishing as well as receiving training and employment opportunities.
Newcastle-based Friends Action North East received £496,330 to provide support to adults with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems across Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.