DRAMATIC falls in wages, sudden unemployment and an inability to get supplies from the supermarket have all been cited as causal factors that could see foodbank use double across County Durham.

A charity has warned the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic has already seen twice as many people using the free food service in Sunderland.

Durham Christian Partnership, which runs Durham Foodbank, has worse may be yet to come as the economic effects of the crisis take hold on families across the region,

The group’s chief executive, Peter MacLellan, said: “We are seeing more first time users in foodbanks, people who are self-employed or who have been affected by the shut down of everything.

“They are finding themselves in difficulty financially in the short term.

“The picture is further confused by shopping, either with self-isolation of shielding.

“Some problems have been caused by panic buying and a lack of stock on shelves, which thankfully seems to be getting a lot better.

“But I think we will see a dramatic increase. We could potentially see a doubling, which would be pretty terrifying frankly.”

The Northern Echo:

Peter MacLellan

People can help foodbanks by donating non-perishable food such as long life UHT milk, cereal, tinned meat, fish, fruit and vegetables and pasta sauces as well as bread.

East Durham Trust, based in Peterlee, has already made an appeal for donations and volunteers due to the impact the coronavirus has had on the disadvantaged former mining community.

The trust’s boss Malcolm Fallow has described their foodbank as being “like a military field hospital” as demand in that area trebled overnight after the lockdown.

The crisis of foodbank Britain was highlighted in Ken Loach’s hard hitting social drama, I, Daniel Blake, about a man struggling to cope with changes to the benefits system.

The star Dave Johns, a Geordie comedian, was himself forced to sign after his film and live stage work died up due the restrictions put in place to deal with the outbreak.

As the current financial crisis has worsened he has made a short film urging people to support their local foodbanks to help the most vulnerable members of society.

The message was shot on WhatsApp and sent to Northumberland film maker, Jason Thompson, who runs his firm, Sound Ideas Media from his home in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.

Mr Johns said: “Whenever I’m asked about I, Daniel Blake people always mention the heart-breaking scene set in the West End Foodbank.

“It sticks in people’s minds long after they’ve watched the film as it brings into stark focus just how much foodbanks are a lifeline for so many people.

“What struck me was how caring and helpful the volunteers were and the dignity of those using the foodbank.

“At this time of coronavirus, foodbanks are more vital and important than ever. We are all in a strange place at the moment in isolation, but if you can help in anyway please do and show that you care.”