When someone walks from Lingdale to Redcar and back to pick up a food parcel, Ruth Fox knows the service she heads is proving more crucial than ever.
As voluntary manager of the Redcar Area Foodbank, Ruth has seen demand for its services soar in its first seven months.
But when someone’s willing to walk 10 miles or so from Lingdale to get food, it’s a stark illustration of the plight some people are in.
It has helped make Ruth determined not only to further establish the Redcar service, but spread it to other areas.
And after a successful funding bid to Awards For All, a new distribution centre will be opening in Loftus later this month. There are also plans to move into South Bank and Eston.
But Ruth admits even she was amazed when the Lingdale man turned up on the foodbank’s doorstep at the Westfield Farm community resource centre in Dormanstown. And sadly, his is not the only shocking story.
She said: “The poor guy arrived at Westfield Farm a week last Friday after walking from Lingdale. He was then prepared to walk back, carrying his bags of food. We’ve also had others who have walked from Brotton and Saltburn, just to get a couple of bags of food that will provide meals for a few days, but they feel they have to do it.
“I also heard of a little lad who went to school with a letter from his mum, asking them to make sure he ate his dinner because that would be the only meal he’d be getting that day.”
Ruth says the main reasons people use the foodbank are changes in benefits or benefit delays.And she says most people they deal with “don’t want to be there - they’re embarrassed to be needing our help, yet they shouldn’t be. But how awful is it in this day and age to have to ask for a basic necessity like food?”
Part of the Trussell Trust network, the Redcar foodbank - currently staffed by about 90 volunteers - gave out its first food parcel on January 30 and has fed more than 1,000 people since then. But alarmingly - and probably at least partially caused by the school summer holidays - it has helped more people in the past two months than it did in the first five combined.
Ruth said: “It’s a sign of the times and very sad that so many people are having to turn to local charities for basic needs such as food.
“Demand is increasing on a weekly basis and our stocks are very low at the moment.”
She is now appealing to the public, offices and organisations to consider holding collections in aid of the Redcar Area Foodbank.
Tinned and dried foods with a long shelf life are best, such as tinned veg, meats and milk puddings, pasta and pasta sauces, long life milk and fruit juices, tea, coffee, biscuits and sweets are all needed, as are more volunteers.
The new Loftus centre will open on Thursday, September 27 at the old Co-op Building. It will initially operate every Thursday from 11am-2pm, but people needing food support must first go through a referral agency.
Meanwhile, a training session for volunteers will be held at East Cleveland Baptist Church, Park Avenue, Redcar on Tuesday at 6.30pm.
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Article from Gazette Live