A FOOD bank in Consett has been experiencing an unprecedented demand for food parcels as the recession continues to bite - prompting volunteers to appeal for more donations.

Volunteers at Consett Food4U, based at the town’s Salvation Army Hall, are helping out more than 40 people a week, compared to only a handful a week the charity helped when it set up in September last year.

Food4U treasurer Janet Arbon said: "We are only just coping with the amount of food we are being donated.

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"We struggling on a daily basis because the demand is so high and are finding it quite tough at the moment.

"For the last couple of days we have stocked the shelves up at the beginning and we have virtually empty at the end.

"On Friday we gave out 22 food parcels in one morning, while Monday was very similar. We had to go out and buy food we were so low."

Mrs Arbon added: "Asda in Stanley have been very helpful and its shoppers have been extremely generous.

"We are still negotiating with supermarkets in the Consett area to see if they can give us a space for shoppers to leave donations.

"Churches and schools are providing us with vital support."

The charity is looking for donations of tinned foods and packets - not fresh goods. Food parcels provide a meals for three days - breakfast, lunch and supper.

The charity helps people who are having delays in getting benefits, have income support problems, are on sick pay or are having to repay loans.

It is run by a committee comprising Mrs Arbon, along with vice-chairman (Salvation Army) Captain Mark Sellars, chairman Ann Shaw, Secretary Margaret Nealis and 35 volunteers.

North Durham MP Pat Glass’ office is also accepting donations.

She said: "Food4U is an excellent charity run by dedicated volunteers. It provides a vital service to local people who find their benefits stopped or delayed, who are struggling financially.

"I want to give this organisation all the support I can, while regognising that it is sad that this service is needed at all. Any donations are greatly appreciated and welcomed."

Food4U are open from 10am to noon from Mondays to Fridays and can be contacted on 07926-810732 or email consettfood4u@talktalk.net.