Shocking new figures have revealed that demand for support from a Tees food bank has more than doubled in just three years.
More than 5,000 people turned for help to Middlesbrough Foodbank during 2018 – a massive increase from 2,000 just three years ago.
The gloomy figure was revealed as members of Teesside’s business community rallied round to spread some Christmas cheer through charity Teesside Philanthropic Foundation – making £14,000 in donations to local food banks and the Salvation Army’s Christmas Toy Appeal.
After receiving a cheque for £1,000 for a fifth successive year – presented by Lisa Preston of Foundation patrons Hunters Estate Agents – the foodbank’s project manager Soroush Sadeghzadeh said the donation was much appreciated in the face of growing poverty since 2015.
He said: “It’s amazing and heart-warming to receive support from the Philanthropic Foundation year after year, and fantastic to be supported by so many generous people who give us food and money because we completely rely on donations.
“I’ve been with Middlesbrough Foodbank for over three years, and the need for it has just got bigger and bigger every year.
“We helped 2,000 people in my first working year, and just over 5,000 people in Middlesbrough alone in the last financial year, with a third of them children from families in need.
“People can find themselves in crisis for a number of reasons, from changes to benefit, to low income, or relationship breakdown to suddenly being hit with a big bill.
“We will use this money to get the best possible deal for non-perishable, in-date food items and essentials such as tins of beans, tins of tomatoes and juice, and our food parcels are enough for three days with hopefully some extras close to Christmas.”
Lisa said: “Hunters is incredibly proud of its association with Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.
“At this time of year it was especially poignant to visit one of our local foodbanks and see the efforts of the volunteers.
“It’s so moving to hear that there are possibly hundreds of Teesside families in need at this time of year, so we feel it’s the least we can do to try and help out in any way we can.”
Three more foodbanks – in Billingham, Hartlepool and Redcar – also received £1,000 each, with the Middlesbrough foodbank getting an extra £300 from the local branch of Barclays following a fundraiser which also made £400 for the CAUSE Christmas Hamper Appeal for struggling Teesside families.
And five Salvation Army centres in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Eston, Guisborough and Hartlepool have had £10,000 in cash, toys and vouchers to distribute to underprivileged families across Teesside split between them by the Philanthropic Foundation.
Redcar firm First Choice Labels continued a recent tradition of loaning two of its vans to deliver £1,000-worth of toys and a cheque for £1,000 to the Salvation Army in Guisborough, with managing director Nigel Willis and sales executive Emma Holborn acting as delivery drivers for the day.
Nigel said it was “always a pleasure” to help out with the Salvation Army, a cause close to his family’s heart.
“My late mother-in-law, Joyce Holborn, was passionate about the work of the Salvation Army and helped out with their annual toy collection for many years,” he said.
“So it feels like I’m picking up the baton from the work she did.
“It is a humbling and rewarding experience to know our small gesture can make such a big impact for struggling local families in the lead-up to Christmas.”
Other Teesside companies who support the Philanthropic Foundation among its 50-plus patrons include Cleveland Cable Company, Nicholson Group, AV Dawson, Devereux Transport, Cool Blue Brand Communications, Bulkhaul, Erimus Insurance Brokers, CPD Bodies and The Keys Yarm.