A busy Teesside foodbank is preparing for what it expects to be its busiest ever winter with the help of new funding from the North East’s biggest building society.
Billingham & Stockton Borough Foodbank operates from four locations across Stockton borough, all of which are in the top ten per cent of the UK’s most deprived communities, and supported over 7,700 local people during its last financial year.
It is using a £3,000 grant from Newcastle Building Society to help meet its rising food buying and storage costs, as well as to fund the other services it offers to people in need in surrounding communities.
The funding is being provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society's branch network.
Originally established in 2012 by a group of local churches, Billingham & Stockton Borough Foodbank became an independent charity in 2018 and has its headquarters in Billingham’s West Precinct, with Hebron Church, St Andrew’s Methodist Church and St Michael’s & All Angels Church acting as distribution and collection centres.
As well as providing food parcels, it also offers other essential items, including nappies, toiletries and pet food, operates a clothing and school uniform recycling services, and supplies household items such as bedding, crockery and towels where required.
The charity also looks to offer a wider range of support to try to help address any additional problems being faced by its service users, with a Citizens Advice worker being based within its headquarters to signpost individuals towards the information and assistance they require.
Bev Burton, finance manager at Billingham & Stockton Borough Foodbank, says: “We’re always really busy, but with the combination of factors like the end of the furlough scheme, the reduction of Universal Credit payments back to pre-pandemic levels and higher energy costs, we think we’re in for a very challenging period and what’s likely to be our busiest ever winter.
“We try to take a longer-term approach than simply providing our service users with a three-day food parcel, and we find that different people need our help for different lengths of time.
“There are often many different issues which are contributing to the problems they’re facing, and taking a holistic approach gives us the best chance for finding positive ways forward for them.
“It takes a lot to run a charity like ours and there are always a range of different costs to meet in providing the services that we offer, so having Newcastle Building Society’s generous support means we can direct resources towards other priorities and help as many people as possible.”
Carrieanne Wilford, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s branch in Yarm, adds: “We know the pandemic has made it really difficult for some families in our communities which is why we’ve focused our grant-giving on projects which make a real difference to their lives on many different levels.
“Billingham & Stockton Borough Foodbank provides unwavering support to thousands of local families. Their commitment to improving their communities matches our own and we’re proud to be helping the team continue to offer a real lifeline for local people in need.”
Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £2.1m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s Trust.
The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.