Hebburn businesswoman turns spare room into food bank for struggling families

Jo Durkin shop Sew and Stitches has started a food bank which is based in the upstairs of her new shop.
Jo Durkin shop Sew and Stitches has started a food bank which is based in the upstairs of her new shop.

A grandmother is hoping to help put food on the table of South Tyneside families struggling to make ends meet.

Jo Durkin came up with the idea of turning a spare room at her business in Hebburn into a food bank.

Jo Durkin shop Sew and Stitches has started a food bank which is based in the upstairs of her new shop.

Jo Durkin shop Sew and Stitches has started a food bank which is based in the upstairs of her new shop.

After her plans got out, she was inundated with generous donations from members of the public and, what was just an idea, quickly became a reality.

The 46-year-old said: “I’ve got my own clothing alterations and repair shop and, a couple of months ago, I began thinking about turning the upstairs of the shop into a food bank.

“There is nothing like this in Hebburn that I’m aware of and I know what it is like to struggle.” She added: “A few people found out and started dropping off donations. At that point I hadn’t made my mind up but with the donations coming in, I thought I might as well go ahead with the idea.”

Despite only officially running the food bank for just over a week, Jo has been able to help three families who were left struggling to put food on the table.

Jo Durkin shop Sew and Stitches has started a food bank which is based in the upstairs of her new shop. 'From left Angie Comerford, Vicky Workman and Jo Durkin

Jo Durkin shop Sew and Stitches has started a food bank which is based in the upstairs of her new shop. 'From left Angie Comerford, Vicky Workman and Jo Durkin

Now, she is calling on the community to get behind her and to donate what food they can to her cause.

Mrs Durkin, who is from Hebburn, said: “At the moment, we have had people coming to us asking for help including one woman who had been left looking after her sister’s children while she was in hospital.

“If people are genuinely struggling and we can help, then we will.”

The mum-of-five has called in her daughter, who already works alongside her at her business Sew In Stitches, to help with the food bank.

Jo Durkin shop Sew and Stitches has started a food bank which is based in the upstairs of her new shop.

Jo Durkin shop Sew and Stitches has started a food bank which is based in the upstairs of her new shop.

She said: “You really have to thank the generosity of the people who are making the donations.

“I have set up a page on Facebook and it has really taken off.

“The community have really got behind this and we have to thank them for their generosity.”

People can drop in donations at the shop based at St John’s Precinct in Hebburn Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 9am and 5pm, Wednesdays and Saturdays between 10am and 2pm.

Donations can also be collected by calling 489 3667.