Stephen Hepburn MP: South Tyneside volunteers feeding poorest and neediest are inspiring

Stephen Hepburn MP with the team from Hebburn Helps.
Stephen Hepburn MP with the team from Hebburn Helps.

Charities are jewels in South Tyneside’s community crown and the brightest include the groups feeding the poorest and neediest.

People like the brilliant team I met from Hebburn Helps in the town’s Campbell Park Road led by fantastic founders Jo Durkin and Angie Comerford.

And South Tyneside Key Project and Churches Together who pull together to save those relying on food banks.

The 300% rise in our area of the numbers relying on food banks since the Tories took power in 2010 is a damning indictment of a Conservative regime winding the clock back to the Victorian era.

Families shouldn’t be going hungry in this day and age in one of the richest countries in the world, so every Tory from Theresa May down should be ashamed.

Behind the bald statistics are blighted lives, each a distressing story of an individual or family that would plummet below the breadline without the efforts of inspiring volunteers.

We know the Government’s to blame for letting people go hungry, and we know the Tories know that too when they blocked publication of official impact statements on Universal Credit’s victims.

Forcing claimants to wait up to eight weeks without any income before their first Universal Credit payment is calculated cruelty and I’ve seen it inflicted here on Tyneside.

And what is worse is you can only make a claim online so that’s inaccessible for many, with far from enough help when the flawed system fails. How can anyone, let alone a family with children, manage without an income for up to two months?

Those on benefits, low pay or insecure jobs only hours away from unemployment live hand to mouth and never earn enough to build up even the smallest savings.

So it’s no surprise that families turn to Hebburn Helps, Churches Together and the rest of our wonderful charities and organisations when a trashed welfare state’s abandoned them.

Official DWP figures show one in every three Universal Credit claimants on South Tyneside are employed, destroying the self-invented myth the Government makes work pay when what it’s doing is making workers poorer.

I take my hat off to Jo, Angie and everyone else doing their bit to ensure nobody falls through the cracks and is abandoned, forgotten when the Conservative slashers don’t give too hoots for their well-being.

If you don’t know what food banks do or have any questions, contact them. The people involved are always friendly. And if you visit to see how they help, don’t be shy about taking some shopping to stock up their cupboards!

More and more people sitting up and protesting against the harm the Tories are doing to our country is a pivotal political moment with time running out for the Conservatives.

That’s why I’ll keep campaigning and fighting against poverty to help people every day who are struggling.

Up here we’re best when we’re united, everybody working together for the common good.

Up here we’re best when we leave nobody behind, no child or adult going hungry.

Up here we’re best when there’s a Labour Government.