Mum collapses from hunger after walking two miles with toddlers to South Tyneside food bank

A mum collapsed of exhaustion and hunger after walking two miles with a pair of toddlers to reach a South Tyneside food bank.
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The team from Hospitality and Hope in Hampden Street, South Shields, arranged for the family to be taken home and emergency food support to be provided.

As part of the Household Support Fund administered by South Tyneside Council, the family was also given access to support for gas so they could stay warm.

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The shocking revelation comes as council bosses say the family is just one of many across the borough struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living crisis continues.

Hospitality & Hope South Shields CE Brian Thomas and staff Pipa Betterton and Gillian Weatherburn.Hospitality & Hope South Shields CE Brian Thomas and staff Pipa Betterton and Gillian Weatherburn.
Hospitality & Hope South Shields CE Brian Thomas and staff Pipa Betterton and Gillian Weatherburn.

Despite both parents being in work, the family’s household outgoings have now virtually outstripped their collective income and they are no longer able to manage without help.

The parents had been going without food to keep their children fed.

‘This is not an isolated case’

Recent months have seen increasing numbers having to turn to community support, with soaring costs for energy and food driving people to food banks for the first time.who

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The council has significantly increased its support for food banks since the Covid pandemic and a total of £118,000 will be used from the Household Support Fund during 2023-2024.

Hospitality and Hope chief executive Brian Thomas said the team had seen a major change recently: “Our community is shifting in a seismic way,” he said.

"Working people are entering deprivation at a scale previously unseen. It would be true to say that this young mother and her sad story impacted on our staff and volunteers.

"Unfortunately though, this is not an isolated case, we are seeing an increasing number of people similar to this family coming to us for support.”

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The borough council launched a poverty commission almost two years ago to make sure it was doing all it could to support those living in difficult circumstances and to help prevent people falling into poverty.

Working alongside various partners, more than 60 Warm Spaces have been launched while the council is also working on a number of other initiatives such as helping people to maximise their benefits and promoting under-used hardship schemes.

‘Dire hardship’

The authority is using the latest phase of the Household Support Fund to help key groups such as those on low-incomes, as well as those in work but just above the benefits line who are struggling and have received less help from national cost of living support schemes.

Coun Ruth Berkley is the council’s Lead Member for the Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Equalities: “Sadly, we know that the cost of living crisis is dragging more and more people into dire hardship,” she said.

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"It is heart-breaking to hear of working people in South Tyneside having to live without the basics.

“We are committed to doing all we can to support people and have written to both central government and energy companies to ask them to do more to support our residents at the sharp end of this crisis.”

A dedicated web page has been created where people can find out about the latest help and support available. To find out more about cost of living support visit