Staff from NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), which has headquarters in Newcastle, have been volunteering their skills and collecting food donations for their chosen corporate charity partner the Trussell Trust food bank.

Contact centre staff joined the chief executive and others to help people visiting the food bank in Gateshead, in the organisation’s latest step to support the charity on Friday.

Last week the Trussell Trust reported that in the past year 1.6m food parcels were given out to people in need, with the number soaring by 73% in five years.

In December alone 1.3 tonnes of food was collected at in the Newcastle offices which lasted the food bank just over a week (they issue around 1 ton of food per week at the Trussell Trust in Gateshead). Staff at the Eastbourne office collected over 3.3 tonnes of food.

As well as this staff also offer up their business skills, and support visitors with writing CVs and applying for jobs for instance.

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) aims to break through negative stereotypes associated with people living in poverty to show that illness, disability, family breakdown or the loss of a job can happen to any of us.

Heather Walters, who works for the NHSBSA, experienced extreme poverty after she finished college. She said: “I couldn’t afford food anymore; I was already buying the cheapest I could and shopping around for the yellow stickers so I could have some fresh food and not just smart price noodles. Bills were going up. I couldn’t ask family to help. Before this, I had never heard of the Trussell Trust, nor had we ever used food banks before.  I am so proud that NHSBSA is supporting the Trussell Trust. Together we can make a difference and inspire people around us to take action and help in some way.”

Michael Brodie, Chief Executive of NHS Business Services Authority said: “The Trussell Trust aims to end hunger and poverty in the UK by supporting over 1,200 food banks which provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty. We collect food parcels to help but we felt that we can make a significant social impact by also offering them support with our business skills and expertise to really make a difference. We care about the impact we have as an organisation, this is not just the help we provide to people with health costs, but the wider impact we can have on society as a whole.”

Garry Lemon, Director of Policy, Research and External Affairs at the Trussell Trust, said: “At a time when we’re seeing an ever-increasing need at food banks, having the support of new partners like NHSBSA helps us provide vital practical support to frontline projects on the ground. Our shared values of compassion and delivering holistic support make us complementary partners. We’re really grateful for their support to ensure people get the best possible help at a time when it’s most needed. ”