Teesside families going days without meals turn to foodbank for help (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Families going days without meals turning to Middlesbrough foodbank for help
HUNGRY families are going for days without a meal, according to the manager of a foodbank which is feeding thousands of people living on the breadline.
A small warehouse stocked with tins, pasta, tea bags and the odd pack of nappies is temporarily helping to fill the cupboards of up to 120 poverty-stricken Middlesbrough residents each week.
“We have fed 3,600 in the last 11 months and over 1,200 were children,” said Middlesbrough Foodbank project manager, Nigel Perrott. “We are gearing up to feed 5,000 next year.
“We know there are families where mum and dad do not eat and we have seen people who haven’t eaten for two days.”
It has taken six months for the Middlesbrough branch to build up a network of 50 agencies which refer needy clients and 120 churches acting as collection points.
A minimum of three meals for three days are given, but no one is eligible for help more than three times in a year. All donations are supplied by generous members of the public.
“We are all about giving people a hand up and not a handout,” Mr Perrott explained. “It is not just about giving people a bag of food, that is usually the tip of the iceberg. They are invited in for a cup of tea and a chat and that way we can signpost people for debt advice or rent arrears.”
He said there had been an instant rise in demand when welfare reforms were introduced on April 1 as benefit claimants will now have to manage their money monthy instead of weekly.
“They are Britain’s ‘hidden hungry’," he said. "When you see them they have a car on the drive and they are making ends meet, but the way the economy is at the moment they are not able to save so when something happens like their boiler breaks they have to find the money from somewhere and it comes out of the food budget.”
He said that when people collect their food they often felt embarrassed and apologetic.
“We say there is no need to feel like that, we are not judgemental. They are at their wits end and do not know where to turn,” he said.
For more information visit www.middlesbrough.foodbank.org.uk
Tell us your experiences of foodbanks. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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