Food Banks in the area have hit crisis point in recent weeks as the demand for them has rapidly increased.

Many people struggle to feed their families due to Universal Credit problems and poverty.

It gets even harder over the winter months as the cold nights approach and Christmas comes around.

Woodhouse Close Church and Community Centre in Bishop Auckland posted a plea on Facebook last week to encourage people to donate.

They run both a food bank and a crisis response centre.

Watson Harrop is from Bishop Auckland and helped kick start fundraising for the food bank, setting up the Food Bank Nominations Facebook page where people can nominate their friends and family to donate.

Local dad Watson Harrop, who started the Food Bank Nomination page.

“I donate to my local collection when I visit Tesco with my wife and it never seems to get any fuller. It has made me aware that people are not as supportive as we should be. It is massively important that we donate to the food bank.”

“We are one of the richest countries in the world and many people are living in poverty. It has been great to see the people of Bishop Auckland coming together and we’ve set an example that a little market town can make a big difference.”

As a result of the church’s call out, Watson’s nomination page and the people of Bishop Auckland getting involved, the food bank has received more than a tonne of donations just this week.

Gaz Miller is a local who has been donating to the food bank for the last 3 years and has seen the sad reality of the food bank over this time.

“This is as grass roots as it gets. I feel there are at times a misconception about its users being scroungers and such. The reality is poverty affects many people from young families, the disabled and the elderly, to name a few. Let us not forget working families here too, I feel it’s important to be involved as everyday people are simply not managing and this is on our doorstep.”

Gaz Miller donating to the food bank, pictured with manager Anne Ramshaw.

Anne Ramshaw is the Church Centre Manager and helps run the food bank.

She has seen first hand the destitute nature of the people that the food bank helps on a daily basis.

“Since last November, the need to use a food bank has gone up 300%. Universal Credit means people cannot afford basic necessities and use our food bank to get by – the hardest times of year are December, January and February so we rely massively on donations then.”

The volunteers at Woodhouse Close Church are overwhelmed with the response of the people of Bishop Auckland, they have never seen anything like it.

Over 1,600 people have been involved just on social media and that number keeps rising.

The donations to the food bank are constant and the store is getting fuller by the day.

“The past week has been phenomenal. Hundreds of people have either been calling into local supermarkets or dropping their donations down to the church personally so they can see where their donations are going. We rely on food donations as well as money donations so give anything you can.”

The Food Bank appeal has been deemed a Christmas Miracle as Bishop Auckland has come together to help the people in the community who will benefit from it most.

You can get involved by donating to the food bank directly, leave donations at the local Tesco in the Bishop Auckland Retail Park or the Green Tree Public House on Cockton Hill road in the town.

Any donation is hugely appreciated whether it be food or money, it will help people in the area have a more comfortable and safe winter.

Only a small amount of the donations for the Woodhouse Close Food Bank.

Trainee Sports Journalist, TU Xtra Presenter

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