North Northumberland Food bank humbled by generosity

Kind-hearted residents have demonstrated their festive goodwill to ensure the needy don’t go without food and other essentials this Christmas.

North Northumberland Food Bank has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the generous donations made by local residents in recent weeks.

Around 25 bags – each containing seven days worth of food – had been given out by the end of last week with another 50 expected to be snapped up before Christmas.

The generosity of the community has been overwhelming,” revealed Jan Casson, food bank programme manager.

“We have had more food, toiletries, selection boxes, small gifts and so on.

“Those who give regularly have given more, it has been very humbling.

“Berwick people should be very proud, a community coming together to care.”

Nearly 1,000 people had been helped by the project from January up to the end of October. This included 571 bags of food and the feeding of 495 adults, 177 children under five and 242 children over five.

The food bank has been operational for a couple of years and continues to meet a real need in the north of the county.

This, however, is only part of the picture. It has, from very humble beginnings, developed into a project where so many aspects of the community have rallied together to make real differences to so many people.

“This is a really wonderful example of the community working together to help each other not only at this Christmas time but also throughout the year,” said Ian Guthrie of Berwick Community Trust.

Food and money are donated by many organisations, individuals, churches and supermarkets through a whole range of initiatives. These donations are controlled at a central store where a team of reliable volunteers sort the items into the particular commodities, into use by date order, and then into balanced parcels to meet the needs of the recipients of the parcels.

“Grateful thanks are due for not only the donation of these goods but also for the band of volunteers who make it all happen,” said Ian.

He explained that there is a system in place to identify people who are having short term financial difficulties due to delays in payment of benefits, delay with wage payments when they start employment, difficulty in paying regular bills and a whole range of other circumstances which mean they do not have ready access to money.

In these circumstances food parcels are made available to the families to tide them over but crucially this is not done until at least one of the professional organisations has had an opportunity to understand the problem the individual is facing and to ensure that the best possible advice is given to them to resolve the problem.

There has been a recent extension to the service where parcels are made available to elderly people who are discharged from hospital to ensure that they have sufficient food to meet their immediate needs. This helps to reduce the chances of them being re-admitted to hospital.

“Recipients of the parcels are really appreciative of the help they receive and equally the people donating the food and money are helping to meet a demand which sadly exists in the 21st century,” said Ian.

The whole operation is overseen by an ad hoc committee of interested parties which meets on a regular basis to review the operation of the service.

Source –  Berwick Advertiser,  24 Dec 2014

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