A new decade brings both new opportunities and fresh challenges for Newcastle West End Foodbank.
That means reaching out to the wider community, working with other agencies to add value to our services while, hopefully, giving our many clients some hope, confidence, and a pathway leading to greater self-sufficiency where appropriate. It’s a bold ideal which will take extensive planning.
Thanks to the generosity of supporters, local businesses, volunteers and fund raisers you might have seen their tireless work collecting from fans outside St James’ Park, for instance we provided hundreds of people with food, company and friendship as 2020 dawned. And on the Newcastle United front, Bill Corcoran, who coordinates the collections outside St James’ Park, reckons that since they started rattling the cans and buckets in 2017, almost £100,000 has been collected (£6,000 in two days outside the stadium last December alone) with a similar amount Bill calls ‘payment in kind’, such as food donations.
And on the ground, In just three weeks in December, for instance, we processed 1,136 food vouchers to single people, couples and families, feeding at least 3,500 in the process. Our kitchen at the Benwell Lane centre, providing a wide range of delicious hot food on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, produced meals for 585 people in that period.
And so to an emerging project. Call it a pathway to a better future, an ideal championed by John McCorry, our chief executive who rightly notes that …”food poverty issues aren’t going away any time soon.” Ideally, without losing sight of our core provision of food, he’s keen to broaden our focus, working with a range of other organisations and partners such as Shelter, the campaign for the homeless, and Newcastle City Council.
So we’re working hard to achieve that ideal with a new pathways manager, Carole Rowland. She has a proud record of volunteering, and advocacy work with the foodbank, while fund-raising, publicising our activities and finding time to cook as well!
In her new role, Carole brings a wealth of experience from the core of our work, feeding the hungry and, sometimes, the penniless. “Clients come to us with often huge and varied problems, and a lot of them haven’t talked about these problems and it’s important we discover their circumstances as far as possible,” she says.