Dozens of needy families benefit from food hamper campaign

Dozens of families are receiving much needed food hampers after a joint campaign by students at Bishop Auckland College and a North-East charity was supported by generous local employers.

Feeding families 4

Young people on the college’s Aspire programme ran an eight-week campaign with Feeding Families to collect as much food as they could. They contacted businesses and community venues to ask permission to put a donation box in their premises and enjoyed a fantastic response.

Sainsbury's Newton Aycliffe store got the ball rolling with a donation of £200 worth of food to the project before Hewitts Solicitors in Bishop Auckland delivered a huge hamper, to the delight of the students.

Other organisations which supported the appeal included Clarus Lux Beauty, DSM, PCP, Oswald House Care Home, Thames Fruit & Veg and UTC School – all in Newton Aycliffe –along with St. Aidans House and Woodhouse Close Library in Bishop Auckland.

The college also collected food donations in a box bearing campaign branding designed by the students, put on display in the main reception.

All the food collected was taken by the students to Feeding Families’ central hub in Blaydon this week and they have been working for two days with volunteers in the packing centre to pack and distribute their donations. Combining these with other food already at the centre they packed more than 250 boxes!

The collaboration came about after tutor Laura Carrick contacted Feeding Families to see if the students could help.

Communications & Fundraising Manager Sarah McPhie ran sessions with the students at the college to support them to get the project started while colleague Rachel Lister worked with the students and the college’s designer Sean Keeble to create a campaign logo and flyers for organisations taking part to display.

Laura said: “I couldn’t have dreamed of the response from local businesses and organisations – more than £1,000 worth of food has been donated. The students also raised over £100 on a stall at our recent careers fair and purchased more food with that money.

“They collected donation boxes from each place and the response was amazing. The students enjoyed meeting contacts at each company, thanking them for their support in person and with cards they had made.

“We will definitely be returning to Feeding Families to volunteer at the packing centre and the students are already making big plans for next year's food drive.”

Aspire student Byron Williams, pictured, said: “I am proud because we are helping families. Working on the project has made me happy and given me pride.”

Byron Williams

Fellow learner Selina Leybourne added: “I'm happy because we have made a difference. I would really like to go back. It has inspired me to want to volunteer in my own time.”

Sarah McPhie said: “We have loved working on this project with the students. They have shown such passion, drive and enthusiasm which has resulted in this fantastic food drive!

“During each session the students were so engaged with the process, and it's been a joy to spend time with them. A huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in this project, especially Laura who really is an inspirational teacher.

“The students should be so proud of their hard work which will benefit so many people living within our communities. The food they have collected has now been packed and will make its way into our communities in the coming weeks. Thank you to Team Aspire!”

About Feeding Families

Feeding Families’ work started in 2016 as a personal project, providing Christmas hampers to a small number of families in desperate need over the festive period.

In October 2017 Feeding Families as an organisation was truly born when a request went out on social media to find people interested in participating in the Christmas hamper scheme – and the response was overwhelming!

The concept evolved and grew year-on-year, and by December 2019 the charity was organising hampers for more than 3,000 families affected by food poverty across the North-East.

In 2020, Feeding Families rose to the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic and, in partnership with other regional charities and organisation, began to supply weekly food packages to those most vulnerable. Its Emergency Food Boxes provide food that will support two people for three days.

Today, Feeding Families operates 365 days of the year, with two packaging centres, one in Byers Green, Spennymoor, and the second in Blaydon, Gateshead.

Its army of 3,000 volunteers help to provide emergency food boxes for some 1,000 people each month. Over the past year more than 160,000 meals have been donated.

To find out how you can donate food to Feeding Families visit