People queue in the rain outside food bank over Christmas

Heartbreaking scenes show dozens of people waiting patiently in the rain for food parcels over Christmas.

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated households all over the country leaving some families unable to afford a festive meal.

John McCorry, from Newcastle West End Foodbank where the pictured were taken, said seeing so many people relying on food parcels was ‘shocking’. 

‘I came up the road to work and it was just shocking to see the numbers coming out of Benwell,’ he said yesterday.

‘I don’t know how to describe it – it took the wind out of your sails.

‘It’s just shocking to see so many people really in such deprivation.

‘When I saw the number of people in the rain I just thought, oh my God. I just felt sorry for the people who needed to come here to queue to make sure they have a decent Christmas meal.’ 

Despite being the biggest queue Mr McCorry had seen at the food bank, he said everyone was in high spirits. 

‘It’s always humbling to see that despite struggling, people all hold onto their dignity and their hope,’ he said. 

Mr McCorry confirmed the food bank had witnessed the number of people in food insecurity quadruple since lockdown in March, which was reported in a recent Newcastle University study. 

People waiting for food parcels were referred by another charity or organisation which gave them a voucher for an emergency parcel. 

The food bank, run by the Tussell Trust charity, honored 1,600 vouchers and issued food parcels that fed 4,404 people. 

Comparatively 32,000 people received food parcels in the 12 months up until March 2020. 

That total for a full year was topped in the eight months to November with the figure reaching 33,654 people. 

Mr McCorry said the food bank tries to help people in more ways than simply distributing food parcels. 

‘Our Pathways out of Hunger project supports people who use the food bank through advocacy support services to help them with debt management, budgeting and welfare advice,’ he said. 

Mr McCorry said: ‘In the run up to Christmas public donations have made a positive difference and enabled the Foodbank to help those people living with poverty and hunger.

‘Please convey our appreciation for the support we have received from all sections of our community, it’s been inspirational.’ 

Labour councillor for Benwell and Scotswood Lord Jeremy Beecham spoke in parliament about the increase in the number of emergency three day food parcels handed out.

The number of three-day emergency food parcels handed out by the Trussell Trust nationwide had risen from 35,000 in 2010 to 1.9m this year.

He said: ‘This is 2020 and we’re looking at what appears to be appalling figures of poverty and deprivation. These are 19th century kind of figures. It’s just awful and there is no apparent attempt to deal with it.’

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: ‘We have announced a £400 million package of support to help families with low incomes stay warm and well fed this winter, and throughout 2021.

‘This is in addition to raising the living wage, boosting welfare support by billions and introducing income protection schemes, mortgage holidays and additional support for renters.’ 

The spokesperson said in 2019/20, the DWP has spent over £225 billion on welfare, including over £98bn on working age welfare benefits.

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