“We are here for the whole community – if anybody needs help, we will be there within 24 hours,” says Joel Likezo, Pastor of the Word of Life International Christian Centre.
After launching in the summer of 2013, the church, on Darlington’s Corporation Road, has become a lifeline for its community, providing help with family issues, fighting extremism and acting as a listening ear for anyone who needs it.
The church has also been working closely with King’s Church to tackle food poverty in the area, and its volunteer run food bank regularly attracts dozens of families needing emergency food and support.
“We serve anyone who needs help, regardless of their faith,” says Pastor Likezo.
“There are many families in need and the food bank is here to help them.
“We launched around four months ago and the only down time we had was over Christmas.”
Being nestled in one of Darlington’s most ethnically diverse areas, the food bank not only reaches out to a range of different communities, including Asians and Africans, but a range of religions too.
It stocks a range of food donated by local supermarkets and private donors, as well as halal meat donated by local shops.
“A lot of people who come here are Muslims, so we take into consideration about halal food.
“This is the only food bank with multiple nationalities. As a result, I have a good working relationship with people of different faiths.”
Sisters Carol and Judy Barker have been regulars at the food bank for around four weeks.
“Everyone here is really friendly and it is nice to come down to meet people,” says Carol, 54.
“If people need help they should not be scared to come down – people will help you.”
Volunteers at the food bank have also been working with Tracy Freeman, chief executive of homeless charity, First Stop Darlington, to explore ways of expanding the service.
“They are more than just a food bank, they are throwing their doors open to the community,” she says.
The food bank is open every Saturday from 11.30am to 12.30pm.
Donations can be dropped off at the church, or collected by calling 07788-844-226.
Source – Northern Echo, 19 Jan 2015