TODAY Teesside took a stand against child hunger, with people meeting in Middlesbrough to donate food to children in need.

Led by Jessie Joe Jacobs, Labour candidate for Tees Valley mayor, people gathered at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, in Central Square to collect food for local food banks.

People also wrote messages on plates to local MPs, which are going to be dropped off outside their offices, namely Jacob Young MP for Redcar.

Their aim was to send a message to the Government that children matter and none deserve to go hungry.

The action was also organised by charity, One Community Link, based in Stockton and other community leaders, aiming to local and national politicians to act.

As well as a speech by Ms Jacobs, Gold Medal Olympian Richard Kilty also spoke. 

Ms Jacobs said: "The efforts that people across the Tees made in ensuring no child went hungry these holidays was phenomenal. From businesses to charities, faith groups to community projects; people took action, raised funds, made meals and fed children all across the region. Because this is who we are; we are passionate people and a compassionate place. 

"Now we need the Conservatives in the Tees Valley to show that same compassion; so we are coming together with one big Teesside heart, to ask the government tackle holiday hunger and bring back the food voucher scheme when it next comes through parliament. No child should ever go hungry. This goes beyond politics, this is simply a case of what is right and wrong.

"I have set up and led charities and have known children come to our groups, having had just a 10p bag of crisps for their dinner - it's devastating! Child poverty and holiday hunger was an issue long before the Covid-19 crisis, and the Conservative mayor locally and Conservative MPs nationally have done little to tackle this. It gets worse every passing year and it's time to take a stand; one simple way they can do this is to reinstate holiday meal vouchers should and when the vote comes back to parliament."

Marsha Garratt, project manager of One Community Link, said: "Basically we were running a food bank every Thursday - we have been since lockdown, but we started to run out of funding, so we put a shout out saying if you have any donations.

"Because of the donations now we can run that food bank up until February next year.

"I think today has been fantastic, one thing I can always say about the North East - we're very kind. People have been struggling during this lockdown, but people are still so kind in this area."

Richard Kilty, Gold Medal Olympic sprinter, from Stockton, who supported the event today, said: "I've known Jessie for a long time, she helped out with the estate where I grew up. She's been doing amazing work.

"Growing up my parents really struggled financially.

"Children in this country are still going hungry - this absolutely breaks my heart, so I've come down here.

"Someone in my position who has been able to make a better life for myself - all other kids deserve that chance. No one deserves starting life with a handicap."