Bosses at Aldi, the UK’s fifth largest supermarket, which has two branches in the borough, have taken positive action by given their backing to South Tyneside Council’s food voucher scheme.
It provides immediate crisis support for people in desperate need and is already supported by retail giant Morrisons.
Last year, the council had more than 1,800 applications for the in-demand Local Welfare Provision project.
Vouchers can only be used for food and exclude the sale of alcohol or cigarettes, with eligible residents able to make two applications a year.
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Council chiefs welcomed Aldi’s involvement - but admitted they were saddened that such support was needed.
Coun Ed Malcolm, the council’s Lead Member for Resources and Innovation, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have Aldi on board.
“Aldi has branches in South Shields and Hebburn which means that residents qualifying for this sort of help will benefit from additional choice and improved accessibility.
“Welfare reforms and austerity have pushed many of our residents into greater hardship, and while I am sad that we have to offer such crisis support, it’s great news that Aldi has joined our scheme.”
Darren Brown, manager of Aldi South Shields, added: “We’re very happy to offer support to the people who need it within the local community.
“The vouchers can be used in store, in exchange for our great quality products at the lowest possible prices, whenever residents need a helping hand.
Under the scheme, anyone suffering a financial crisis can get support with daily living expenses, including food, baby milk and nappies, heating and electricity.
It also offers community care support, which helps people stay in their home, or move into a new home, after living in supported or unsettled accommodation.
The initiative helps with the cost of a bed or cot, refurbished white goods such as cookers, fridges and washing machines, and floor coverings for living areas and bedrooms.