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Increased demand for foodbank over Christmas

A service that helps some of Newcastle's most vulnerable people has opened over the Christmas holidays for a second time because of an increase in demand.

The Newcastle Welfare Rights Service helps those struggling with benefits sanctions, evictions and other emergencies. For the first time it's also handing out food parcels on behalf of Newcastle West End Food Bank - which is closed until January the 5th.

Some sanction decisions came through last week which were probably made the week before...but because of the week it was and with other agencies being closed, we can usually help with legal issues but their immediate need was for food.

– Frank Mc Enaney, Welfare Rights Service Manager


Full Report: Newcastle food bank struggles with demand

A foodbank in Newcastle has been forced to bring in extra supplies from across the country after it ran out of provisions due to soaring demand.

Food and drink were sent to the Newcastle West End Foodbank from a service in Lincolnshire.

Jonny Blair has been speaking to Michael Nixon from Newcastle West End Foodbank and Kevin who uses the foodbank.

A thousand people a week visit Newcastle foodbank

A foodbank in Newcastle has been forced to bring in extra supplies from across the country because demand in the city has soared.

Food and drink has been sent from a sister organisation in Lincolnshire because the Newcastle West End Foodbank has been running out of supplies.

Volunteers say the number of people using the service has rocketed from 30 people a week to 1000.

Michael Nixon from Newcastle West End Foodbank says he thinks demand will continue to increase.

Bishop of Jarrow: 2013 the year of the food bank?

The Bishop of Jarrow has suggested that 2013 may well be remembered as the year of the food bank.

In his festive message, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant said as many people struggle to make ends meet, "it seems impossible to separate Christmas and food banks."

New figures released by a charity show there has been a sixfold increase in just one year.

Julia Barthram has spent the day at a food bank in Gateshead.


Advice on how to deal with festive debt

A big contributing factor in so many people using food banks is rising troubles with debt. And Christmas can be a big contributing factor to money worries.

The Citizens Advice Bureau has come up with a festive way how to deal with the problems we may encounter.

They're calling it 12 small changes for a festive Christmas.

The advice is on their website and covers issues such debt, budgeting, clever shopping, consumer problems and foodbanks.

The CAB also offers other trusted sources of advice if needed as Shona Alexander explains.

Bishop of Jarrow: "2013 the year of the Foodbank?"

Bishop Mark Bryant Credit: Keith Blundy

Bishop of Jarrow Mark Bryant's Christmas message is all about foodbanks.

He said: "I wonder if 2013 will go down in history as the year that this country we discovered Food Banks?

"Wherever I go across the region, almost every day I hear stories of people for whom life is becoming more difficult than I can even begin to imagine. I hear stories too of amazing generosity as people give time and money to support people.

"It seems impossible this year to separate Christmas and Foodbanks.

"While very many of us will be spending more and eating more than we do at other times of the year, the media coverage and the collections outside our supermarkets will make it difficult to forget that we are a deeply divided country in which something is very deeply wrong.

"If there is hope - and I surely believe there is - for me it lies in the extraordinary generosity of so many. People I talk to who collect outside supermarkets tell me of the amazing generosity of so many.

"Somebody recently suggested to me that it may be the least well off who are often the most generous. (That is true world over as anybody who has visited parts of Africa will tell you)."My sense is that in many places people are becoming strangely more - rather than less - compassionate.

"Time and time again people say to me: "I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like not to be able to feed your children."

"I hear the same story from people who give a bed to a homeless teenager for the night through the wonderful Nightstop scheme.

"People say: "I would want to think that if my lad was homeless, somebody would take him in!."

"It seems that people's hearts are becoming softer. Some of us seem to be becoming more compassionate and that gives me hope.

"There have been those this year who have seemed to want us to harden our hearts with their talk of benefit scroungers - ignoring the fact that very many people on benefits are in work and some foodbanks report that sometimes their busiest time of the the day is when people are going from work.

"The Good News is how many people refuse to let their hearts be hardened and persist in being generous. That gives me hope.

"The Christmas story of a baby being born in a manger is a story of God who refuses to be a God who ignores people and does not care.

"He comes to Earth as a baby to show that God does not stand far away aloof from the lives of of ordinary people. Often as people think of the Christmas story as a story of a homeless mother who before the baby is very old and has to flee for their lives as a refugee to Egypt they start to see God.

"He understands much more than we imagine about what human life is really about.

"The Christmas story is a story about a God who does not abandon us whatever the mess and that sense that we are not along is a reason to have hope.

"What gives people hope is knowing that they have not been abandoned and that the are not along. Ask yourself - who might I give some hope to this Christmas?"

New foodbank opens on Teesside

A new foodbank Centre has opened on Teesside to help even more people in need.

Due to demand The Billingham Foodbank and cafe has moved from the New Life Church in Low Grange Avenue to the town centre.

The Foodbank will distribute emergency food for people in crisis situations via a voucher system after being referred by other agencies.

In just over a year the Billingham Foodbank has help over 700 families in financial difficulty.

Jean Groom volunteers at the Billingham Foodbank and told ITV News that it is good to know that there is support available for those who need it.