South Tyneside food bank reports a rise in need of more than 300% locally, as seasonal appeal launched

A South Tyneside food bank has revealed an enormous rise in the demand for its emergency support services this year, as the centre launches its annual Christmas appeal.

The KEY2Life Foodbank has recorded a more-than-300% increase in the numbers of people referred to the centre during 2021.

It reported the statistic as one of the borough’s biggest and longest-running seasonal appeals got under way.

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The food bank, a partnership between the KEY Project youth homeless charity and the Churches Together South Tyneside group, says it hopes to spread festive cheer through the Christmas drive, as it continues to see a spike in demand due to the impact of the pandemic.

Toy donations from last year's sesonal appeal.Toy donations from last year's sesonal appeal.
Toy donations from last year's sesonal appeal.

Following last year’s effort, it is once again appealing for donations of festive fare, essential items (such as toiletries) or completed hampers.

"Whatever people can spare will be most appreciated,” the food bank said.

Readers are also asked to donate towards the provision of emergency food parcels for a neighbour struggling to put food on the table, or to ensure a safe home for a young person in the area.

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Jo Benham Brown, Business Development and Communities Manager at KEY Project, told The Gazette:” While Covid-19 has impacted on all our daily lives, the pandemic has widened existing inequalities and drastically worsened the financial situation for many in our community.

A donated Christmas hamper from the 2020 appeal effort.A donated Christmas hamper from the 2020 appeal effort.
A donated Christmas hamper from the 2020 appeal effort.

"We’ve seen a staggering 310% increase in the number of referrals to our KEY2Life Food Bank and are now feeding over 16,000 people annually as a direct result of the pandemic.”

Ms Brown added: "Combined with the increase in fuel and energy prices and the removal of the £20 Universal Credit Uplift many are facing desperate hardship this Christmas.

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“We want to make Christmas special for those who may have little food in the house or nothing under the tree on Christmas morning, so they know that someone is thinking about them and that they are not alone this festive season.

A completed Christmas hamper from the 2020 seasonal appeal in South Tyneside.A completed Christmas hamper from the 2020 seasonal appeal in South Tyneside.
A completed Christmas hamper from the 2020 seasonal appeal in South Tyneside.

"We have been so overwhelmed by the generosity of our community already this year, which just goes to prove the adage that it feels good to do good, so please if you can, spare a thought for someone in need close to home this year.”

KEY2Life says it is also requesting donations of new and unwrapped toys and gifts, and vouchers for older children “to bring some Christmas joy to the struggling families it supports who need it most this festive season, and whose children might otherwise not receive a present.”

The food bank is asking that families with children aged 16 and under, who would like to benefit from either, please click here to complete an online application form to be submitted before 3pm on Thursday, December 9.

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To allow sufficient time to distribute to those most in need before Christmas Day, donations should be dropped off over the next three weeks, KEY2Life added, from Monday, November 22, until Friday, December 10. Any spare gift bags and wrapping paper would also be much appreciated.

KEY2Life is open 10am-4pm Monday to Friday and is located inside the Boldon Lane Library (postcode: NE34 0LZ).

Due to extremely high demand at this time of year, the centre has requested that donations be received between 12-3pm to avoid peak times.

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