Hebburn Helps founders reveal number of food parcels volunteers handed out during lockdown

Hebburn Helps has revealed how many emergency food parcels have been delivered during the coronavirus lockdown.

By Sarah Sinclair
Monday, 22nd June 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd June 2020, 4:45 pm

When the coronavirus outbreak saw the UK go into lockdown in March, the team at Hebburn Helps food bank and crisis response centre sprung into action to help those hid hardest by the pandemic.

A team of volunteers have been out every day delivering emergency food parcels, hot meals and packed lunches to children and families impacted by the school closures.

Now the founders of Hebburn Helps, which is based on Campbell Park Road, have revealed that so far in 2020, they have handed out more than double the number of food parcels than in the same time period last year.

Hebburn Helps co-founders, Angie Comerford and Jo Durkin.

Since January, they have provided 1,545 parcels to families struggling to put food on the table, compared with 619 from January- May 2019.

In March, when the lockdown restrictions were first imposed, volunteers delivered 312 food parcels to residents in Hebburn and Jarrow – more than twice the 179 given out in March 2019.

But at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in April, the number rose from 132 in 2019 to 717, more than five times higher than last year.

This is not including more than 1,000 hot meals which have been delivered to elderly and vulnerable residents and 120 packed lunches which have been delivered to school children five days a week.

Jet 2 pilot Michael Booth (left) and dad Ian, who have been volunteering with Hebburn Helps during the pandemic.

“It’s been the most bizzare, stressful few months we have ever had,” said co-founder Angie Comerford.

“We’ve been under a lot of pressure and have been hearing stories on a daily basis of people who are really struggling. But at the same time it has been really rewarding.”

The Hebburn Helps team was reduced to just three, after members of the team were told to self-isolate due to the risk of Covid-19.

But volunteers such as local school teachers and Jet 2 pilot Michael Booth and his family, have helped share the load.

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne (centre) hands out packed lunches with Hebburn Helps founders Angie Comerford (left) and Jo Durkin.

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South Tyneside Council has also provided funding for the school lunches for the last three months.

“We couldn’t have done it without the people who have been supporting us and helping us out,” added Angie.

“The pandemic has brought out the kindness in people.”

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