Hospitality and Hope has been run entirely by volunteers since it was founded in 2001. The kitchen operates on Sunday evenings out of churches across the borough, including St Bede’s on Westoe Road. Emma will also join volunteers at Brinckburn Community Centre on Wednesday and Thursday for the weekly food bank, where eligible Shields residents can collect their three day food parcels.
Emma Lewell-Buck said:
“Hospitality and Hope do admirable work helping people in Shields who have fallen on hard times, and I am very grateful to them for allowing me to pitch in. Their selfless dedication has provided thousands of hot meals to those with nowhere else to turn, and I can’t praise their contribution to our community highly enough.
Last month Emma highlighted the growing food poverty crisis in Britain, calling for an urgent debate on the subject in the House of Commons.
Food bank charity the Trussell Trust has reported a “clear link” between the increasing need for emergency food and the Coalition Government’s welfare changes. Between April and June alone over 150,000 extra households turned to the Trust, with over half of them doing so because of benefit delays, sanctions, or the financial squeeze of the Bedroom Tax.
Homelessness is also a growing problem in the area. Since 2009/10 the number of homeless people in the borough has gone up by 55%. Many of these have been forced out by the impact of the Bedroom Tax, which hits residents by an average of £622 a year.
“There can be no doubt that the Coalition’s attacks on low-income families are the cause of the growing food poverty crisis. Volunteer organisations like Hospitality and Hope do tremendous work, but it should not be charities’ responsibility to prevent people from starving. The Government’s failure to create jobs and its attack on the social safety net have pushed many households to breaking point, and as long as David Cameron is in Downing Street things will only get worse.”
Staff at Hospitality and Hope agree that Government cuts have created an unprecedented increase in demand for food aid, and they are now seeing more people than ever turning to charity in order to feed their families.
More information on Hospitality and Hope, including details on how to donate food, can be found by clicking here. They can also be contacted on 07708 540 526.