Demand For Newcastle Food Bank Soars

14 March 2014, 05:37

The number of people using the West End food bank in Newcastle has grown from 30 when it first opened its doors a year ago to more than 1,000.

The food bank, which is based at the Church of the Venerable Bede on the West Road is now staffed by a team of 50-60 volunteers.
 
They pack up boxes of food which last people 3 days at a time.

All the food is donated, or bought with money that's been donated, whether by schools, churches, businesses, individuals, or through supermarket collections.

The boxes include things like cereal, packet mixes and even fresh baked goods which are donated by Sainsburys and Greggs.

Michael Nixon who's the project manager at Newcastle West End food bank told Capital:
"We have a bag of bread, cereal, cooking oil, fruit juice, sauces, vegetables, pasta and a selection box of healthy food like peanuts and dried fruit for children's lunch boxes.

We add to that anything else that we have. There are boxes out where people can help themselves if they want to.  

As well as handing out food, the volunteers talk to the service users about what is causing their problems and help them by trying to look for employment and writing CVs.

We have volunteers who sit and chat to service users. What they do is trying to get to the underlying problem. What the cause is that's brought them here in the first place.

We refer them on to agencies that can help them.

Some of the clients will come and volunteer here and help and about 25% of our volunteers are ex-service users. Two of them have now gone into full time, paid employment.

We try and rehabilitate people. It's not just about feeding people, it's about addressing the issues."

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