Cost of living: Wansbeck Valley Food Bank makes appeal amid high demand in Morpeth, Ashington, and Guide Post

Food banks have “never known such a desperate situation,” according to a Northumberland network.
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Wansbeck Valley Food Bank now provides emergency supplies to roughly 600 people every week, having seen demand increase by 9.2% in the last year.

The Morpeth-based organisation is appealing for donations as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

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Operations manager Linda Fugill said: “Demand for our service has gone up year on year since the food bank was established in 2013 and we have never known such a desperate situation.

Wansbeck Valley Food Bank volunteers packing food parcels.Wansbeck Valley Food Bank volunteers packing food parcels.
Wansbeck Valley Food Bank volunteers packing food parcels.

People who were just about managing before the cost of living crisis are now using food banks as they have slipped into food poverty.

“We are absolutely and totally committed to relieving food poverty but Christmas is going to increase demand.

“We do not see any light at the end of the tunnel because people simply do not have enough money and food is so expensive.”

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The food bank now provides hot water bottles to help people who cannot afford to heat their homes as well as tents and sleeping bags to the homeless.

The food bank delivers parcels across Wansbeck.The food bank delivers parcels across Wansbeck.
The food bank delivers parcels across Wansbeck.

Linda added: “Pay freezes for many workers and the switch to universal credit, where people face a five-week delay after applying, are having a terrible impact on people.

Food banks are supposed to be an emergency service, but we are now propping up the welfare state.

“We would like to see the government take urgent action to boost the incomes of people unable to afford food, heating, and other essentials.”

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On top of increased demand, the food bank’s income has fallen as people can no longer afford to donate.

Food bank coordinator Tracey Brown said: “The whole country has reached crisis point so people who once donated a bagful of shopping have had to reduce or even stop their donation as they simply cannot afford to help in the way they once would.

“What makes it even more heartbreaking is that they apologise to our volunteers for not having the spare money to help.

“That is a terrible reflection on the crisis taking place in this country.”

Those in need of food bank support can obtain a referral from care professionals, Citizens Advice Bureau, and others.

You can find information on supporting Wansbeck Valley Food Bank here.