Friday, June 14, 2024
GeneralNEWCASTLE FOODBANK TEAM HERE TO HELP

NEWCASTLE FOODBANK TEAM HERE TO HELP

NEWCASTLE’S food bank, The Pantry, is to reopen its doors to dropin visitors. Now in its 10th year of operation, The Pantry regularly supplies food to more than 40 families and individuals in need across a wide local area that includes Seaforde, Clough, Dundrum, Annalong, Castlewellan and Kilcoo. Up until the onset of the Covid pandemic, the food was handed out to people when they called at The Pantry’s distribution point at the rear of Donard Methodist Church in Newcastle. “This worked very well until Covid arrived,” said Pantry chairman, Manus O’Boyle. “Social distancing meant the system had to be changed and so we switched to delivering food directly to people’s houses.”

Now, however, The Pantry is reopening its doors once more in a bid to forge a closer relationship with those using the food bank, as well as provide guidance on how to become a food bank recipient and help to point visitors towards other organisations that can offer assistance. The Pantry is now open every Tuesday from 2pm-4pm. The entrance is signposted in the car park at the rear of Donard Methodist Church on Park Avenue, just off Causeway Road in Newcastle. “People already receiving regular food deliveries from The Pantry can call in to collect them if they wish,” said Manus. “Although we would stress that the existing delivery service will be continued for those who need it. “No one in need of food who calls at The Pantry for the first time on a Tuesday afternoon will be turned away,” he added. “However, if someone wants to receive a regular supply of food from The Pantry, they will need to have a referral. This is a simple authorisation that can easily be obtained from doctors’ surgeries, social services, Newry, Mourne and Down Community Advice, local clergy and elected representatives, as well as a wide range of organisations and charities, such as St Vincent de Paul.

“Guidance on how to get a referral can be obtained by calling in to The Pantry any Tuesday, or by calling 07517 766006. Our volunteers will also be on hand on Tuesday afternoons to offer advice on other help that may be available for people facing problems with day-to-day living. Anyone who calls to talk can be assured of complete confidentiality.”

Volunteers at The Pantry will also be delighted to accept any food or financial donations on Tuesday afternoons. “Local people are always extremely generous and we have had great support over the years, particularly at Christmas time, from schools, churches, organisations and individuals,” said Manus. “However, I think most people would be surprised at how quickly all those goods so generously donated at Christmas get passed on to people in need.”

He added: “The number of families and individuals needing food bank support has risen significantly since Christmas, and donations are particularly welcome now as stocks are lower and there is a constant need to keep replenishing them. “Keeping The Pantry running can be very costly. If you multiply the weekly shop for an average family 40 or 50 times, that’s what we have to keep supplying, week after week.” Each food parcel aims to provide the recipient with a balanced diet and contains fresh foodstuffs like bread, eggs, fruit and vegetables, as well as a range of tinned and dried goods, toiletries and household products, all of it packed in unmarked plastic bags. Since its formation in 2014, The Pantry has handed out tens of thousands of these parcels to people in need in the wider Newcastle area. “They are greatly appreciated by all those who have received help over the years,” added Manus. “And our open door on Tuesday afternoons is an extension of that service. Anyone who calls in will be made most welcome by our volunteers.”

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