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Foodbanks on rise as desperate; Increasing numbers of struggling families turn to service.

MORE foodbanks are being set up on Tyneside to cope with the high demand of families struggling to put food on their tables.

Since opening in November, a total of 3.8 tonnes of food has been handed out to folk in Gateshead in emergency food parcels.

More than 100 volunteers at Gateshead Foodbank have worked hard to provide the frontline service one day a week to 309 people, 61 of whom were children.

Now organisers plan to run the service, based in Gateshead town centre, on another day of the week to help the increasing numbers of people relying on the foodbank.

They also hope to open a similar service in the west of the borough.

Volunteer Anne Witton, who has helped out at the foodbank since it opened, said: "The foodbank is not a long-term solution - the idea is that we are helping people in the short term and we are here until they get their problems sorted.

"The demand is high. The food parcels only last for three days and we are finding people struggling to cope the rest of the week so that's why we're going to give out food on a second day."

The secretary of Beacon Lough Baptist Church, Ian Britton, who is also part of the foodbank, believed there was enough demand to justify opening another distribution centre in the west of the borough.

He said: "We need to make the same sort of food available in the west. We are currently talking with volunteers and churches, and they are interested in becoming involved."

Organisers said they were surprised by the number of people turning to the foodbank for help.

Carol Thompson, one of the volunteers, said: "The demand is increasing now and people are using the foodbank for a variety of reasons.

"We get people in here from all different walks of life. Some people come to us because they haven't had their benefit delivered, or they have just lost their job or people are sick and are not getting paid.

"We have just got to try and help them the best we can and give them the correct food which meets their needs."

The foodbank, run by volunteers from churches in Gateshead, works with care professionals, GPs and the Citizens Advice Bureau to distribute food to those families in need in the town. They provide three days of emergency food to people who find themselves in need.

The food is collected in supermarkets by volunteers and baskets are also left in churches in Gateshead so people can donate.

Don Sinclair, a pastor at Kelvin Grove Church, in Low Fell, said: "I am absolutely amazed by the number of people who have donated."

For more information, call 0191 487 0898 or email info@gateshead.foodbank.

org.uk

CAPTION(S):

PROVIDING HELP Top, Anne Witton and Don Sinclair; above, Carol Thompson and Anne McCarthy

NECESSARY Gateshead's foodbank relies on donations from the public to help local families and individuals
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 26, 2013
Words:496
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