VOLUNTEERS have been shocked and saddened by the theft of the contents of a large charity box full of donations for families living in food poverty.

Residents of Sedgefield, County Durham, had filled the box with tins and packet food, cereals, biscuits and long-life products in support of Feeding Families, a North-East charity that provides food to those in need across the region.

The charity box was due to be collected on Monday, but overnight the contents were stolen from outside a property on Church View.

Homeowner Kate Stanley said: “It is the second time we have had a Feeding Families box outside our home and the people of Sedgefield are inordinately generous. The box was filled with foods that would make a huge difference to hungry families, and ready for collection.

“Never would I have thought someone could do something so diabolical as to steal from a charity box intended for those living in food poverty. I feel so disappointed and I’m sorry both to those who so kindly donated food and to those who will miss out as a result of this sickening theft.”

The incident has been reported to Durham Police and local CCTV footage is being examined.

Juliet Sanders CEO for Feeding Families said: “We were saddened and shocked to hear of the incident in Sedgefield last night. We always get such a great response from the residents and surrounding areas.

“The food we have been collecting this weekend is part of our ‘Tin On The Wall initiative, to enable us to drive more food into our packing centres.

"This month we will be supporting over 1,000 people who are experiencing food insecurity. Donations like the ones that were stolen are vital in helping those in need.”

Feeding Families was founded in 2017 and has two packaging centres in Byers Green near Spennymoor and Blaydon, Gateshead. It relies on donations to provide emergency food boxes every week to hungry families across the region.

The charity is calling on people to arrange a food collection in their area. If interested please email food@feedingfamilies.org.uk.