A food bank has been handed a £10,000 cash boost from a fund set up by workers at a now-defunct smelter plant.
The donation takes Rio Tinto’s Legacy Fund spending to more than £550,000 since the closure of the smelter, with the loss of 515 jobs, in March 2012.
Linda Fugill, project manager at Wansbeck Valley Food Bank, said: “People are turning to us for a variety of different reasons.
“Some are unemployed, others might be switching benefits and they are experiencing a short-term gap in their payments and an increasing number are actually in employment but struggling with the costs of living.
“Our three-day food parcels provide short-term relief while other care and support agencies work on longer-term solutions.
“Rio Tinto’s very generous donation helps safeguard the food bank until at least the winter of 2017 so we are extremely grateful.”
The need for food banks in the area is growing with the Wansbeck facility providing three-day food parcels for 132 adults and 97 children in one month alone.
Joanne Hannay, Rio Tinto’s Lynemouth regional economic development adviser, said: “Wansbeck Valley Food Bank provides vulnerable members of our community with the essentials that many of us are able to take for granted.
“In considering this application to Rio Tinto’s legacy fund, my colleagues and I were very impressed by Linda and her team of volunteers, not only for their dedication and compassion but also by the very professional approach with which they run the food bank.”
Wansbeck Valley Food Bank runs distribution centres in Ashington on Mondays and Thursdays and in Morpeth on Tuesdays and Fridays. Centres are open in Pegswood and Newbiggin on Wednesdays with plans for a further session starting in Lynemouth in the summer.