County Durham’s largest foodbank has secured its operating base for the next 12 months thanks to a four-figure grant awarded through their local Newcastle Building Society branch.
Durham Foodbank distributes around 155 tonnes of food around the county every year with the help of a 500-strong team of volunteers, and provided emergency three-day food supplies to over 17,300 people in 2017.
The service, which is one of the biggest in the UK, has its main warehouse in the Evangel Church Hall at Chester-le-Street and gives out the donations it receives via 28 distribution points right across the county.
After being nominated by Mark Speller, a customer at Newcastle Building Society’s Front Street branch in Chester-le-Street, a £3,000 grant has been given by the Society to cover the Foodbank’s rental costs for the whole of 2019.
The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.
Set up in late 2011 by the Durham Christian Partnership, Durham Foodbank takes client referrals from social workers, GPs, schools and Citizens Advice Bureaus in the county, and distributes food supplies on a weekly basis.
Most of the food it receives comes in via individual donations, with collecting baskets set up in several supermarkets around the county as well as in a number of schools, churches and businesses. Up to 50 corporate volunteers also support its work every year.
Durham Christian Partnership also offers a free face-to-face debt advice service which helps over 400 clients a year, and any excess stock in the foodbank is offered to holiday hunger projects across County Durham.
Kelly Smith, food supply manager at Durham Foodbank, says: “Our extensive network of distribution points across the county ensures that, wherever our clients live, they should be in reach of the support that they need.
“We receive amazing and consistent support from so many individuals, organisations and businesses all over County Durham, and the help of the hundreds of volunteers that support our work is absolutely invaluable.
“Demand is continuing to grow year-on-year for the foodbank’s support and there is never a shortage of things for us to spend our money on, which makes getting this backing from the Society especially important.
“Having our property rental costs covered for the next year means we can direct resources towards other activities which have a direct impact on the number of people we’re able to help and the quality of service we’re able to provide.
“Our aim is to set an example for other UK foodbanks through the ways in which we work and the systems we develop, and the Society’s support will add further momentum to this continuing drive.”
Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has contributed over £265,000 in grants to projects across the Society’s North East and Cumbria heartland, and is so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 129,000 people.
Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via its website by customers who wish to support their local communities. There are larger grants of up to £50,000 also available to assist groups in improving or maintaining community buildings.
Sarah Colvil, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Chester-le-Street branch, adds: “The Durham Foodbank and the people that support it do fantastic work to help people living in extremely challenging circumstances.
“Having a positive impact on the communities in which we’re based is an essential part of the Society’s operations, and contributing to the Durham Foodbank’s work is a great way for us to live up to this ideal.”
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.