Tagged: Peter MacLellan

County Durham foodbank gets Lottery money to expand its services

A foodbank  and money advice service that helps more than 15,000 people is being expanded with Lottery funding.

The £397,230 Big Lottery Fund grant to the Durham Christian Partnership is one of ten awards totalling £2.7m to North-East organisations.

The Partnership helps families and individuals referred to it because they are struggling on low incomes or have debt problems

It will increase its emergency food distribution points in rural areas, create 60 more volunteer posts and provide more debt and welfare advice.

It estimates that over the next three years the foodbank will benefit at least 25,000 people and the debt advice service will support up to 500 people.

Its chairman of trustees, Peter MacLellan, said:

“In three years the foodbank has grown from one distribution point to 25 and provided three days of food to more than 15,000 people in the last 12 months – up from 10,803 in the previous 12 months.

“Low income, debt and issues with the benefit system have been the major causes of crisis.

“Many people are only one pay cheque away from a financial crisis, so attendees can come from all backgrounds, the homeless, people in affluent neighbourhoods, people who have never needed benefits, those who are dependent on them.

 “Often the cause of their crisis is completely outside their control.

“Recognising that a food crisis is usually a symptom of other challenges faced by people, the foodbank is keen to extend the support it provides to help address the underlying needs and ensure that those attending it get all the support they need.

“This grant from the Big Lottery Fund will help us to achieve this aim, restoring some measure of hope and confidence to people who find themselves in a very difficult time.”

Source – Durham Times, 16 Dec 2014

Hunger and food poverty are sweeping the North East, inquiry told

Hunger is sweeping the region and the austerity-driven Government is relying too heavily on volunteers to help – that was the message food poverty investigators heard yesterday.

Members of the all-party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger and Food Poverty were at the centre of a packed room at South Shields’ St Jude’s Parish Hall to find out why there is a rising tide of foodbank use here.

The touring inquiry, which meets with policy-makers in London next, heard how foodbank use has tripled since 2008 in some areas. Calls are now ringing out for the Coalition to act.

> They have acted.  The state we’re in now is exactly what they wanted. It must be – they surely couldn’t be so stupid as to think that austerity and cuts would result in anything else.

Could they ?  I don’t know which I’d find worse – malevolent intent or incredible ignorance on that scale.

Bishop Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow, has been campaigning on the issue. When asked if the church is being asked to step in where the welfare state previously had, he said: “That is undoubtedly true.

Even with the welfare state it is good that, as a society, we do things that enable us to care for each other, but it is certainly true that the church and other men and women of goodwill are picking up things that we never thought would be necessary two or three years ago.”

The Reverend Roy Merrin, of Grange Road Baptist Church in Jarrow, said: “Politicians themselves need to recognise their responsibility and not look to the voluntary sector for sticking plasters for what are structural problems in our society.”

Peter MacLellan, director of the Trussell Trust’s County Durham Foodbank, said: “I think it is a scandal. I’m encouraged by people’s generosity but of course we should not have to do this.

“I think there will always be a need for foodbanks but the scale we have them on at the moment is nonsense.”

Jean Burnside, chief officer for South Tyneside Churches’ Key Project, said it gave out 26 food parcels in 2008, but last year was called on for 339 and so far this year had given out 222 packs.

There has been a massive increase,” she said. “There is a variety of reasons for that, including the Bedroom Tax, benefit sanctions and high unemployment.

“I want these politicians to know what it is like here in the North East.

“The Government needs to know that the system isn’t working. There have been so many cuts and the people at the Department for Work and Pensions can’t provide advice for us so what chance do our clients have? Something needs to change.”

Veteran Merseyside MP Frank Field is leading on the inquiry and will now hold a series of meetings in London on food poverty across the UK now.

He said he had been shocked by the scale of the problem in the North East, also describing it as a “scandal”.

The economy needs to be run differently and we need more jobs at the bottom and the people to do them,” he said.

“We are hearing about low wages, benefit delays and benefit sanctions and some people not getting their benefits at all.

“People don’t want this to be a long-term solution, they say they don’t want foodbanks to exist.”

> Frank Field – why do I not trust the bugger ?  A member of the advisory board of the free-market think tank Reform, and of the generally conservative but also pro-freedom of speech magazine Standpoint.

In May 2008, he said that Margaret Thatcheris certainly a hero” and that “I still see Mrs T from time to time – I always call her ‘Mrs T‘, when I talk to her.

Although there have been attempts to get him to defect to the Conservatives, they have been without success (possibly he thinks Labour is moving to the right anyway, so why bother).

In 2008, Frank Field was named as the 100th most-influential right-winger in the United Kingdom by the Telegraph.

Field supports the return of national service to tackle growing unemployment and instil “a sense of order and patriotism” in Britain’s young men and women.

Field is a practising Anglican, a former chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust, and a member of the Church of England General Synod.

Field believes in reducing the time-limit with which women can have an abortion,and in stripping abortion providers such as Marie Stopes of their counselling role and handing it to organisations not linked to abortion clinics. 

Oh yeah – I remember now why I don’t trust the bugger.

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  04 July 2014

Housing group help for Durham foodbank

A housing group has handed £500 to a foodbank.

Riverside, a social housing group with offices in Gateshead, made the donation to Durham Foodbank.

Since starting in September 2011, the foodbank has distributed 177 tonnes of donated food, feeding more than 23,500 people in crisis across County Durham.

Diana Pearce, a Riverside board member, said the group was pleased to be able to support the cause.

Peter MacLellan, Durham Foodbank co-ordinator, said: “We are very grateful for the recent cash donation from Riverside.

“Fundraising and donations are absolutely vital in order to cover the basic running costs of the foodbank so that we can continue to get food and support to local people in crisis.”

Durham Foodbank urgently needs more volunteers for its supermarket collection day at Morrison’s, Chester-le-Street, on Saturday, June 14. For more information, email: brianhunter1951@gmail.com