Food bank sees surge of calls to help domestic abuse victims

Malcolm Fallow, chief executive of East Durham Trust.
Malcolm Fallow, chief executive of East Durham Trust.
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Food bank bosses say they are seeing a rise in the number of calls to help domestic abuse victims as Christmas approaches.

A team which passes on parcels of food and toiletries to those most in need say they have noticed an increase in the number of requests it has received from other organisations supporting those who have suffered at the hands of their partners and families.

Sadly, with increased alcohol consumption and a number of other factors this time of the year appears to be leading to an increase in demand from domestic violence victims.

Malcolm Fallow

East Durham Trust’s Food Emergency East Durham (FEED) project has said it has noted the increase in domestic violence victims asking for help as the festive season progresses.

Often, those referred to the bank are seeking help because of a series of reasons.

Its work has helped 4,500 people since it was launched in 2011 with a grant from the Lottery-backed Awards for All, with the kindness of communities and support from Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg. He will visit the project next week as it prepares the final packs ahead of Christmas.

The trust’s chief executive Malcolm Fallow said: “Sadly, with increased alcohol consumption and a number of other factors this time of the year appears to be leading to an increase in demand from domestic violence victims.

“Their needs are also more complex with individuals often finding themselves fleeing from abuse, with no access to any resources whatsoever.

“Thankfully the support from the commissioner has put us in a position where we can respond to this crisis.”

He added the situation comes at a time when police forces across the country have said they are struggling to cope with the increase in domestic violence reports.

Last year, the trust reported an increased demand in the early part of the year as people with high levels of debt felt the impact in the post-Christmas period.

Referrals to the service are made by head teachers, district and mental health nurses, domestic abuse help organisations and Macmillan, while those who ask for help are assessed before they are given any parcels.

The trust’s efforts are also helped by Durham Constabulary, One Point children’s service, the Safer Neighbourhoods Unit, Safer Durham Partnership, East Durham Area Action Partnership, Public Health County Durham and volunteer and community representatives.

A full list of items which can be donated through the charity’s base in Community House, Yoden Road, Peterlee, as well as drop off points, is available via its website www.eastdurhamtrust.org.uk.