At the beginning of the year we were emerging from Covid with restrictions and fear gone. But then the Cost of Living crisis started to make itself felt with the increase in fuel and food bills in April. With bills and interest rates going up throughout the year, we’re right in the middle of another crisis.

We’ve done all we can do to feed 13,754 people and given 123,786 meals so far this year, helping families put food on the table for their children for families.

103 tonnes of food or £206k has been given to clients donated by our generous supporters, schools, churches and the council which inspiring when everyone is feeling the pinch. Thank you for every tin of beans!

Our kitchen volunteers have prepared thousands of cups of teas and hot meals to people who sometimes haven’t eaten for days!

We have delivered 1110 parcels to people who were too ill to leave their houses. Our volunteer drivers stopped them going hungry and cold in their hour of need.

This year we’ve made big steps into helping people out of the root cause of their food crisis. Clients meet with our team of signposters who do what they can to overcome obstacles for people.

In January we started giving out free Vodafone SIM cards to help people overcome digital exclusion. This is from Trussell Trust partnership with Vodafone. So far 393 people have benefited.

 In February we launched our Renew Wellbeing café as so many people in food crisis are struggling with their mental health and being alone. 52 people have accessed this service.

In April we launched expert benefits advice in our sessions in partnership with Equality Together and funded by Trussell Trust as benefits advice and helping people to apply for the benefits to which they are entitled is key to putting more money in people’s pockets so they won’t need a Foodbank.

In June we launched our CAP Job Club to help people gain the confidence and the skills to get back into work. Universal Credit is at such a low that getting a job is vital to getting out of food crisis. 31 people attended 3 or more sessions and 54% of people have gone onto college courses, get jobs (6 people), or start volunteering.

In mid November we recruited Kola to access the councils emergency fuel grants for this winter in every session. In just 4 weeks we’ve accessed emergency grants for 132 people. These grants and associated budgeting help take time so previously we were limited in how many we could apply for.

People have less and less money and thousands are struggling to have their basic survival needs of food and warmth met. Government policy needs to change to put more money into people’s pockets. The media is a key to raising the voice of the voiceless and powerless to say this isn’t fair, it’s not right. We’ve campaigned about the impact of the cost of living crisis, having been on Look North, the T&A, Radio 4, national BBC news app, on Heart Radio, local BCBC radio regularly.

This Christmas we will give out 550 – 600 Christmas hampers and hundreds of toys which parents can choose for their children from our grotto.

In May, The Light Church became the owners of the Jubilee Centre after the miraculous provision of the money for the deposit and the refurbishment to stop the church and Foodbank becoming homeless. In June the refurb went into full swing, starting with refurbishing the Foodbank warehouse rooms. Then in July work started in the auditorium so we moved Foodbank downstairs in amongst the builders and by mid September it was finished so we moved everything again back upstairs into our lovely new space that our clients can now enjoy.

Everyone has made this possible from our 70 strong volunteer team, hundreds of food donors and financial givers, referral agencies and supermarket partners. We have all done what we can to help and as a result we have all achieved something very remarkable together.

We have spent ourselves on behalf of the hungry. Isaiah 58 says ‘If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.’

I want to give God a massive cheer too. He always goes before us and miraculously provided all that we needed to achieve this miraculous feat!