A CHARITY has made an appeal for donations to its food bank to meet an "exploding" demand caused by the tightening recession and benefits changes.

The East Durham Trust, established several years ago to tackle the effects of poverty and unemployment, has experienced a fourfold increase in the number of people it helps with food parcels – and it expects the need to continue to rise sharply.

The Food Emergency East Durham (Feed) project was set up by the trust as a means of supporting vulnerable people who were adversely affected by the effects of the economic downturn, recession and more recently Welfare Reform.

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Trust chief executive Malcolm Fallow said: “There has been an explosion in the number of food parcels we are distributing.

"It has escalated from helping 10 people a week this time last year to 50 a week now. It is a reflection of the current economic climate and cuts in public spending.

“And welfare reforms coming in April will hit people hard and lead to a significant increase in the number of people becoming categorised as vulnerable.

Mr Fallow said, since Feed was established in May 2010 it had distributed over 2,000 food parcels to about 1,000 individuals and families in crisis, with the help of more than 40 volunteers.

Among those helped was a man in his 20s discovered living on the streets of Murton after suffering from a mental breakdown.

He had no money and had not eaten for several days when Seaham crisis centre requested emergency food aid. Recently, Feed helped a woman who had only £6 feed herself and two kids while waiting for benefits.

Mr Fallow said: “Despite all the negativity, our experience does throw out one positive – it certainly restores faith in human kindness and shows that people in the old industrial hearthlands are very resilient and very good at looking after their own.”

The Feed project has 35 collection points, situated mainly in community centres across the district and it takes referrals taken from social workers, community centre staff GPs and officers from the probation service.

Money that is donated is used to buy perishables such as bread and milk.

The donated food is stored at the Feed room in Community House, Peterlee, where volunteers make up packages with sufficient food to feed an individual or family for three days.

For more information about Feed contact 0191-569-3511 email info@eastdurhamtrust.org.uk or visit www.eastdurhamtrust.org.uk.

Suggested donations include: vegetables, fruit juice, fish, meat and rice pudding, tomatoes (all tinned); instant mashed potato, sugar (500g), breakfast cereal, tea bags, pasta sauce (tin/jar/sachet), sponge pudding, milk (UHT/powder), biscuits, snacks, pasta/rice (500g).

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