The Connect25 Food Bank on Brinkburn Street in Byker has received a welcome boost in time for Christmas, thanks to Byker Community Trust (BCT) housing association and partners.
Every year, BCT nominates a local charity it will donate to and has handed over a cheque for £2,000 plus a huge collection of selection boxes and advent calendars.
The collection was kickstarted by Jill Haley, Chief Executive of BCT who donated the £250 she was presented with when she was awarded third place in the UK’s Top Housing Distinctive People, organised by Distinctive People HR and OD Consultancy Ltd and voted for by industry professionals.
The rest of the funding was received from Jill’s personal contacts and corporate donations from many of the BCT board, staff, contract partners and suppliers.
The selection boxes were donated by two local children, Thomas and Grace. With the help of their mum, they made it their personal quest to independently canvas their friends and neighbours, clubs they go to, their church, Gosforth Primary School and even used their own pocket money to support the BCT food bank appeal.
The Connect25 Food Bank was established in 2015 when one of the volunteers saw someone picking food out of a bin on the Estate in Byker. They realised then, the need to set up and establish a food bank to help those who need it most. This is the fourth year that Connect 25 has been supported by BCT’s Christmas food bank appeal.
Now, the food bank provides emergency food supplies to local people living within the Byker Ward and surrounding areas. They rely on donations including food parcels to meet the demand from the local community.
The demand for accessing food banks has increased even more this year, particularly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has put more strain on local people and their incomes. To meet this demand, Connect25 is utilising the space at The King’s Castle Church, also on Brinkburn Street.
They deliver food parcels to individuals and families in BCT properties and to people living in the Walker and surrounding areas. They also deliver to local housing and support agencies such as Home Group, Tyne Housing and Changing Lives, when asked to do so by organisations such as BCT, the Citizens Advice Bureau and Job Centre Plus.
Volunteers are also preparing Christmas hampers which will include tinned foods, pasta, rice, cereal, canned meats and long-life milk to ensure no one goes hungry on Christmas Day.
Adebola Oluwatula, Project Co-ordinator at Connect25 Food Bank, said; “Thank you very much once again to BCT, this will go a long way to help tackle food poverty in the area. We have seen an increase in demand for our services, particularly after the first lockdown and in addition to our scheduled deliveries, we are still getting more requests for support. We will use this donation to buy fresh produce and ready meals to help even more families in Byker.”
Jill Haley of BCT, said: “Our annual Christmas donation is about giving something back to our local community and what better way to do this than supporting the now essential work that Connect25 Food Bank is doing in and around Byker for those in need and suffering from food poverty.
“Unfortunately, the demand for food banks has risen even further this year due to the pandemic and without personal and corporate donations like this, they couldn’t operate. We reached out to our board, staff and partners to ask for donations and I’m glad to see they responded. This money will go a long way to help people in crisis this Christmas and to sustain our local communities.”
Connect25 delivers food parcels every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday by referrals only. There are three volunteers who help to provide this essential service. For more information, please visit www.thekcfoundation.co.uk