A Wearside MP has visited a local foodbank to find out more about the help it gives to families.
Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson joined volunteers at Loaves and Fishes foodbank in Easington Lane.
She is campaigning for the Government to take action to help families who are struggling to make ends meet after being hit by higher food bills.
A report from the Trussell Trust, which runs foodbanks across the country, said that between April and September 2013 more than 350,000 people, 120,000 of them children, received at least three days emergency food from them – three times more than the same period last year.
Ms Phillipson said: “The cost of living crisis means that those both in and out of work are finding themselves in the same line waiting for their weekly food parcel. It’s not right and the Government need to take action.
“The volunteer staff at Hetton New Dawn Group are supporting the local community during these difficult times. I would encourage as many local people as possible to support them in their work.”
Paul Finch, manager of the foodbank, said: “People are desperate. Naturally, local people want a hand up, not a handout, and it takes a lot for someone to admit they need support because we are proud locally. The economic difficulties we are facing has increased the need for foodbanks. Our volunteers do all they can to support hard hit people and will continue to do all we can.”
Hetton New Dawn Foodbank is open 11am to 1pm on Mondays.
Source – Sunderland Echo 18 April 2014
Despite grassroots protests, including occupation of threatened buildings, by Hands Off Sunderland Libraries, nine libraries across Sunderland have been closed by the city council, in a bid to save 850,000 pounds.
The libraries affected are those at Doxford Park, Easington Lane, East Herrington, Fence Houses, Hendon, Monkwearmouth, Silksworth, Southwick and Washington Green.
Coun. John Kelly, portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture: “This is a very emotive subject and we recognise the strength of people’s feelings.
“As I’ve said before, we probably wouldn’t have gone down this route if the council didn’t need to make 110 million pounds savings as a result of cuts from central government. The fact is the library service needs to save 850,000 pounds, so we have had to look at changing how we do things as budgets continue to be cut and resources become ever more stretched.
“As councillors, we have to make difficult decisions . Had savings not been made here, they may have had to fall on children’s or adults services.
“But I firmly believe that the new library service will be much more flexible to fit in with people’s needs and will result in better services reaching more people across a wider range of locations.”
Eh ? How does closing public services across a wide range of locations reach more people across those same locations ? I suspect the only flexibility resulting will be the closed service users, who’ll have to be a lot more flexible to find an open library.
How much will be saved really ? Has any account been taken of vacant buildings needing to be maintained, books and equipment to be mothballed, staff who lose their jobs ?
“Had savings not been made here, they may have had to fall on children’s or adults services.” A nice attempt at emotional blackmail, but what exactly are libraries if not children and adult services ?
And should it be either/or anyway ? We know only too well about the nature of the current national government, but Sunderland City Council is Labour controlled. Shouldn’t they – and other Labour controlled councils – be providing, you know, opposition ? Getting together and going head-to-head with the government perhaps ? Making a moral stand ?
We’ve been promised years more austerity, whoever wins the next general election. Now the process has been started, which libraries will be next ?
As noted in no less an organ than Private Eye (#1349) –
Sunderland library chiefs have some handy advice on what can replace local libraries facing closure.
“Because of Facebook, because of gadgets, we dont need libraries the way we used to when I was 15,” Cllr Graeme Miller told a public meeting, which agreed proposals for the closure of nine libraries to save #850,000 a year.
Quite apart from how completely un-useful Facebook is for most homework, research or reading for pleasure, Sunderland is part of the UK region with the highest concentration of people off-line, with a recent survey finding only 42% of less well off people in the city had online access from any type of “gadget”, including computers, smart phones and so on.
Hands Off Sunderland Libraries on Facebook at –