A local food bank has been heartened by a flurry of kind donations from businesses, schools and members of the community, although it is still some way off its target.

South Shields-based charity Hospitality & Hope had appealed to the public for the 15  tonnes of food it needs to support people and families who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many food banks across the region, Hospitality & Hope has seen a huge surge in demand, with the Trussell Trust warning that UK destitution rates will double by Christmas alongside an explosion in demand for food parcels.

The South Tyneside foodbank’s rallying call has been answered by many of its supporters, which included a £1,000 grant from North East commercial law firm Muckle LLP, although it is still short of the supplies needed to provide enough emergency food parcels to feed around 750 families over the winter.

Paul Oliver, Hospitality & Hope chief executive, said: “Referrals to our foodbank have risen sharply this year since the beginning of restrictions and the financial impact on families. Many are living on the edge and suddenly finding themselves in crisis without the means to feed their children.

“It means more supplies are needed than ever before, particularly as we move into winter and COVID-19’s economic impact worsens, so we are greatly appreciative of all of those who have donated to us so far, helping us to continue to meet the growing need in our community.”

Debbie McCormack, Muckle LLP operations director and member of the law firm’s community team, added: “We know Paul and the team very well, having previously volunteered for the charity, and we’ve seen first-hand the difference it makes to its local community.

“It is such a difficult time at the moment, with more and more people in need of support. The relentless rise in foodbank use is truly staggering and it is only right that the business community does what it can to help local causes like this.

“Hospitality & Hope does incredible work. Far beyond supplying food parcels, it offers a wide range of support services to vulnerable and homeless people in South Tyneside.

“Hopefully, we can all do what we can to support our local community so that we can all get through the pandemic together.”

Hospitality & Hope is also asking businesses who are not holding a staff Christmas party this year if they are able to donate a percentage of what they would have spent to the £15k Winter Virgin Money Giving campaign.

The campaign will go towards funding the charity’s operational costs.

Food donations can be dropped it off at the Hospitality and Hope Hampton Street Operations Centre, Hampden Street, South Shields, NE33 4JR.

The food bank can be contacted on 0191 420 3336.