Festive food appeal launched in South Tyneside after charity reports 310% spike in those needing help

One of South Tyneside’s largest and longest-running festive appeals is now underway to help make Christmas special for some of the most vulnerable after charity reported a 310% spike in referrals.

KEY2Life Foodbank, a partnership between youth homeless charity KEY Project and Churches Together South Tyneside, has launched its annual seasonal appeal to spread plenty of festive cheer, alongside vital donations of essentials, as it continues to see a spike in demand due to the impact of the pandemic.

Following the success of last year’s Christmas Hamper Appeal, the food bank is once again appealing for donations of Christmas fare and festive treats, individual items or completed hampers.

The appeal is underway for 2021

Jo Benham Brown, business development and communities manager at the KEY Project, said whatever people can spare for the food bank collection will be most appreciated.

“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,” said Jo.

"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.

"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.”

Jo Benham Brown, business development and communities manager at KEY Project.

She added: “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.

"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.”

The foodbank 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.

If you are a family with children aged 16 and under who would like to benefit from either, visit https://docs.google.com/forms/u/1/d/e/1FAIpQLScMyusgrz3IA8gB7Tp6tVogWkIn8iEfFnpKiFN3yBHZm64hAA/viewform to complete an online application form which must be submitted before 3pm on Thursday, December 9.

A festive hamper from 2020.

To allow sufficient time to distribute to those most in need before the big day, Christmas hamper and toy donations should be dropped off between November 22 and December 10.

Organisers say any spare gift bags and wrapping paper would also be most appreciated.

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

Jo said due to extremely high demand at this time of year, it would be helpful if donations could be received between 12-3pm to avoid peak times.

People can also donate financially this Christmas to help provide an emergency food parcel for a neighbour struggling to put food on the table or ensure a safe home for a local young person:

By cheque: made payable to ‘South Tyneside Churches KEY Project’ and post to KEY Project, 116 Baring Street, South Shields, NE33 2BA

By BACS: transfer to ‘South Tyneside Churches KEY Project’ at Unity Trust Bank, Sort code: 60-83-01, Account no: 20071815

By text:

Text 5XMAS to 70580 to donate £5

Text 10XMAS to 70580 to donate £10

Text 15XMAS to 70580 to donate £15

Text 20XMAS to 70580 to donate £20(Texts will cost the donation amount plus one standard network rate message)Jo said Christmas is KEY2Life’s busiest time of the year and additional volunteers are always most welcome.

Get in touch by messaging the the KEY2Life Facebook page or give them a call on 07833 613 393 during opening hours.

For more information about KEY2Life’s Christmas Appeal visit: keyproject.org.uk/key-2-life-christmas-appeal

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