Key2Life Foodbank Update


Shops, supermarkets, businesses (sadly) closing down, members of the public have been very generous: there is a steady supply at the moment. We are keen to maintain this as the crisis continues. There has also been a steady flow of donations, many through the “donate” button on the Key Facebook page, set aside for the Foodbank at the moment, nearly £1000 last week.

There has been much more fresh produce (around 300 loaves of bread arrived one day) but also potatoes, onions, salad, tomatoes etc. These are being sorted carefully and distributed safely.

Free School Meals: the government has decided distribute supermarket vouchers to families entitled to FSM. Its £15 per child per week.
Family food parcels: some of the funding from Feeding Britain will be used to provide new family size boxes


There is a 110% increase in referral rates since the crisis began. In the last 10 days the Foodbank has given out 211 parcels with an average of 3.5 persons for each referral, feeding roughly 738 people. In the past most boxes were for single people, now there are many families who have been hit by job losses.


We are hugely indebted to our volunteers who have rallied to this demanding change. With some having to stand down because of age and underlying conditions, there is a team who come in regularly and work extremely hard to meet the demands. It’s a challenge to keep to 2 metre distancing, but all are very mindful of the need. Systems have been put in place from the beginning. It can be exhausting both physically and emotionally. The foodbank also is grateful for volunteer drivers who can pick up items that have been donated.

Pauline Bittlestone

The Foodbank is also very appreciative of the “loan” of Pauline from the Methodist Drop in Shop in South Shields, which had to close. Pauline, their employee, now gives 3 days of her paid time to the Foodbank.


Bernadette and Jo have had successful bids and are actively seeking further funds, particularly ones that could support salaries.


The Key2Life Foodbank is the best place to go to for up to date information about their needs and the contact information.

Coordination across the Borough

It is taking time for coordinated systems to be put in place. There is a huge desire to help from all kinds of organisations and individuals. Jo is in regular contact with STC who are setting up systems and the various grass root organisations that are springing up in response to the crisis, including Mutual Aid which has sent volunteers to the food bank to assist this week.

Happy at Home Update

Activities Undertaken for Coronavirus

We have updated our website with dedicated Coronavirus tabs to receive referrals of people who need help and support and for people wishing to volunteer. Referrals to our website are dealt with immediately.

We have organised ourselves and our volunteers into three teams covering South Shields, Jarrow and Hebburn and Whitburn, Cleadon and The Boldons.

Each team has a Team Leader and contact point. They supervise the volunteers (and any new volunteers) in their area and the people who need help.

 In terms of manpower, we have increased the hours of our Events Coordinator and temporarily changed his job role to that of Team Leader. We have re-deployed the Street Angels Project Coordinator into Happy at Home to work as a Team Leader.

Our Support Worker is working as a Team Leader and carrying out any other support duties that might arise due to the crisis.

We are offering the following support for people over the age of 60:

  • Telephone support service – between the volunteer befrienders and the people that they normally visit and Hub volunteers and the people who would normally attend the Happy Hubs
  •  Shopping Drop off service
  • Shopping Service for our beneficiaries
  • Provision of Survival Packs and/or Food Parcels
  • Provision of Activity Packs including jigsaws, colouring books and pencils, painting books, playing cards, quiz books and crossword books, wool and knitting needles and crochet hooks, craft supplies.

We have received and distributed bouquets of flowers from Waitrose and Easter Eggs from People’s Angels. We are going to receive a regular supply of food parcels from Morrison’s which will be distributed to Happy at Home service users.

We have signed up to the Leadership Group which is a coordinated group of Local Authority Departments and the voluntary sectary. All calls to the central contact point are fielded by call handlers and referrals are passed on to the appropriate organisation.

Regular video conference calls are held with this group.

We have made applications for emergency funding to cover costs of the crisis.

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