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Wansbeck Food Bank Extends Successful Butcher Voucher Scheme with Newcastle Building Society Support


May 8, 2017
A busy Northumberland food bank has extended a successful voucher scheme that it trialled with a local butcher, thanks to support from the local branch of Newcastle Building Society.
Wansbeck Valley Food Bank provides food aid to people in need in the communities surrounding Ashington, Newbiggin, Pegswood, Lynemouth and Morpeth, with support provided via referrals from care professionals and other agencies across the area.
The Food Bank has seen demand rise by more than 25 per cent over the last year, with 10,637 parcels containing three days’ worth of food, tea and coffee supplied to local families during 2016.
In order to provide more flexibility in the range of foods it can provide, the Food Bank set up a trial with a butcher in Ashington butcher through which vouchers were provided to clients to allow them a choice of fresh meat and other produce.
And now, after being put forward for a grant by Linda Fugill, a customer at Newcastle Building Society’s Ashington branch, and project manager at Wansbeck Valley Food Bank, a £1,000 Society donation has helped the Food Bank to buy a further 360 five pound vouchers for distribution to its growing client base, to extend the scheme to further shops in Newbiggin and Morpeth, and to produce publicity material to highlight what’s available.
The funding has been provided from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.
Founded in 2012, Wansbeck Valley Food Bank is a registered charity and employs five people who are supported by a wider team of 30 volunteers.
It generates stocks of basic dried and tinned foods through donations from various local churches, schools and community groups, as well as via supermarket collections, with balanced food parcels prepared with guidance from a food nutritionist.
A review of the use of the vouchers provided in the initial butcher’s trial has shown it to be both extremely successful and well-received by clients, which has prompted palns for it to be extended.  
Linda Fugill, project manager at Wansbeck Valley Food Bank, says: “The clients with whom we work are all referred to us and have to meet a specific set of criteria to qualify for support, and we’ve seen demand growing steadily over the four and a half years that the service has been in place.
“The voucher scheme was introduced to provide families with a element of positive ownership and flexibility over the food they’re choosing to eat, to improve their diet through providing fresh food, and to engage local businesses in supporting the work that we do, and analysis of the initial trial showed that it had been very successful on all fronts.
“With demand increasing and finances always tight, we simply wouldn’t have been able to extend this scheme without Newcastle Building Society’s support and we’re extremely grateful for being given the chance to carry on with a scheme which we know is working well.”
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.  Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via the newcastle.co.ukwebsite by customers who wish to support their local communities.
Ivy Campbell, branch manager at the Society’s Station Road branch in Ashington, adds: “The growing need for the Food Bank in our area is sadly only too clear, and it plays an essential role in enabling many local families to get a properly balanced diet.
“We support the communities in which we’re based, and we hope our support enables the Food Bank team to achieve their objectives through extending this successful part of their operations.”
For more information on the work of the Wansbeck Valley Food Bank, please visit www.wansbeckvalleyfoodbank.org

By Emily