A COLLECTION of teddy bears were left outside an MP’s office as a “peaceful protest”.

They were left outside the office of Darlington MP Peter Gibson in protest of his vote not to extend free school meal provision to holidays during the pandemic.

It was organised by Darlington residents Morvyn Sanderson, who runs a holiday club at Northland Church, which usually provides free meals for children, and Joanne Scott.

Ms Scott said: "We were trying to get across that he has made a decision on behalf of people in Darlington and we don't all agree it was a good decision.

"At the current time it couldn't be worse. There's such a need, there are projects and food banks that run all the time anyway, without a pandemic.”

She added: “I've had to isolate, so has my brother and he wasn't paid. Some people don't have family to go to for help.

"I did some volunteering during lockdown to deliver food for people who were shielding and needed food banks. I know they are getting used.

"Some people have the view that they should help themselves and it's not right. People are making judgements about parents and people are saying they shouldn't have mobile phones but it's a generalisation and not representative of the people who need it."

Mr Gibson said he would donate the teddies, which were removed this afternoon, to charity.

It follows a weekend of community action in Darlington to provide free food for struggling families.

On Saturday, volunteers and councillors put together hundreds of bags of food for pick up at Darlington Town Hall, in conjunction with That Bread and Butter Thing (TBBT), a charity which launched in the town in March.

It followed a community fundraiser by student Sarah Weston.

Read the full story - Community rallies round to ensure hundreds of children won’t go hungry in Darlington

And nine-year-old Daisy Simpson, a pupil at Heathfield Primary School, also led a community effort, raising more than £1,000 in a few days to buy food to be distributed.

Mr Gibson said: "I am pleased to see our community come together over the weekend and pack the food supplied by TBBT which I understand has been paid for through the £135,000 that Darlington Borough Council received as part of the Government's £63,000,000 supplied to local authorities.

"Just as I have welcomed all manner of donations for charities at my office, the soft toys left at my office will be donated to a local charity."