Food poverty initiative approved by councillors

Published Tuesday, 30th June 2020

A major new initiative to tackle food poverty has been approved by councillors in Hartlepool.

The Borough Council’s Finance and Policy Committee agreed a proposal for a membership scheme giving residents access to low-cost, nutritious food and other essentials for a small weekly charge.

Based on schemes operating in other areas, it is expected that members will receive items with a retail value of around £30 for a subscription of just £7.

The scheme aims to build on the success of the Council’s Hartlepool Support Hub which was set up at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to help the town’s most vulnerable citizens, and it is expected that a provider will be appointed through a procurement process within the next two months.


The scheme is to be delivered from the Council's network of Community Hubs

The scheme is to be delivered from the Council's network of Community Hubs

Director of Adult and Community Based Services Jill Harrison said the Hub which has overseen the delivery of more than 2,000 food parcels to local people during the crisis, had highlighted the need for longer-term action.

She praised the work of foodbanks and other organisations already providing vital support in the community to residents experiencing food poverty, and emphasised that the Council was committed to working closely with them.

However, she said the new scheme would help to tackle the stigma associated with food bank parcels and the dependency they can often lead to.

“The feedback we have received from people is that they don’t want charity but want to be able to make a contribution so that they feel they are supporting themselves and their families,” she said.

Councillor Shane Moore, Leader of the Council and Chair of the Finance and Policy Committee, welcomed the scheme, saying: “It gives people a sense of being able to look after themselves and provide for their families.”

The scheme will be delivered from the Council’s existing network of Community Hubs, connecting members with a range of other services, including adult education, library services, benefits advice, a library and health and wellbeing services.

The one-off cost of setting up the scheme is estimated to be £125,000 and then it would become self-sustaining. The Council is proposing to launch it using COVID-19 funding received from the Government.

Further work is also to be carried out to consider how the scheme could be developed to tackle the wider issues of fuel, clothing and digital poverty.