South Shields charity Hospitality and Hope appeals for help as it looks to expand to cope with food bank demand
A South Shields food bank is looking to expand as referrals from hungry families are expected to double over the school holidays.
Founded in 2002, it relies solely on donations – and with the school holidays approaching they are needed more than ever to help families on low incomes.
Over the last 12 months more than 3,500 people have been helped by the charity.
Every week it receives around 30 referrals – a figure that is expected to double to around 60 per week during the school holidays.
Paul Oliver, chief executive of Hospitality and Hope, said: “We are now actively seeking larger or additional premises to respond to the demand on our food bank and would appeal to anyone who can help, to get in touch.
“In terms of food bank referrals, the summer is always a busy time for us as families with children in particular who are on low income struggle with hunger during the school holidays.
“Since the beginning of the year referrals into our food bank have continued to rise sharply, with numbers up over 55% on last year.
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“What is particularly alarming is that referrals from families with children are up 86% so far this year, before the holidays have begun, with the majority of those referrals coming from South Tyneside Council.
“We rely solely on donations from the general public, local businesses and churches who drop food off at our collection points and our stocks are beginning to run low with some key items.”
The charity has 180 local agencies from across the region referring into it.
As well as its food bank, the charity also operates a soup kitchen, clothing bank and has shower and laundry facilities for people in crisis.
Hospitality and Hope is urgently in need of donations for the food bank and is in particular need of toiletries, coffee and long-life milk, along with tinned tuna, tomatoes, potatoes vegetables, fruit and rice pudding.
Donations can be dropped off at the Hampden Street Centre or via one of the charity’s supermarket collection points.