The Galleries Shopping Centre is supporting Washington Foodbank in the build up to Christmas and is urging shoppers to buy an extra tin or packet of dried food for those in need as the festive season begins.
Shoppers can donate food in special Foodbank boxes at ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Iceland, Poundland and Nationwide. Staff working at the Galleries as well as those at M&S and McDonalds are also contributing with donations.
Washington Foodbank is an independent charity serving Washington and Springwell, run by volunteers and relies on the generosity of the public to keep going.
Andrew Hoseason, project manager at the Foodbank, said: “Washington Foodbank are delighted to be working in partnership with the team at the Galleries and additional shops this Christmas. In the past, we have benefited from a close and fruitful relationship with both Asda and Sainsbury’s.
“We hope this new partnership over Christmas will lead to a long-lasting relationship with the Galleries and individual stores that will provide the foodbank with an increased volume of food to match the ever-increasing number of people in crisis referred to the foodbank.
“People in crisis are referred to us by the Jobcentre, Gentoo and health agencies for short term assistance. In 2017 we have been helping an average of 170 people per month, up from 120 last year.”
Supporting this increase in the demand, national Foodbank network, The Trussell Trust, reported earlier this month that they had seen demand for food parcels increase by 30% in areas where Universal Credit had been introduced and 12% where it had not.
David McNee, centre manager at the Galleries, said: “We know that Christmas is a very special time of year but we are aware that demand for Foodbanks has been increasing and will continue to rise dramatically during Winter. Our shoppers are always keen to support local causes and we feel this one is very important. As we have many food retailers here at the Galleries, it gives us the opportunity to try and help local people that may well have gone without.”
Clive Bowman, chair of the Foodbank, added: “The volunteers of Washington Foodbank would like to extend a huge thank you to all staff and customers at the Galleries. Without this valuable support, we would really struggle to survive. Our service users often come to us as a last resort by which time they have no money, heating or food and desperation forces them to visit us. Without help it would be impossible for us to deliver the service which we are managing at present. Sometimes we are able to offer little extras which for most of us are taken for granted – toiletries, biscuits and sweets. At this time of year all donations are most gratefully received. We ask that people help us to make Christmas more bearable for those who are unfortunate enough to need our service.”