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Feed a Family This Christmas: How you can help Black Country and Staffordshire families

By Heather Large | News | Published:

The Express & Star today launches its Feed a Family This Christmas appeal for the fourth year running - and it’s been given the seal of approval by the Prime Minister.

Helping to launch this year's Feed a Family This Christmas appeal are Kay Cross, Jen Coleman, Peter Wunderlich and Jenny Williams at the Black Country Foodbank

The appeal was a huge success in 2018 collecting in excess of 16,000 items for food banks, the homeless and children at The Haven refuge.

And that is why we know our generous readers will get behind this good cause once again this Christmas.

From today until December 14, we are collecting contributions of non-perishable food and toiletries.

Boris Johnson backed the campaign during a visit to the Black Country describing it as a "very good" cause.

  • Scroll down for details for what, where and how to donate
Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed the campaign during a visit to Wolverhampton

If you can afford to help, we are appealing for gifts of festive food, such as mince pies, chocolates and Christmas puddings, as well as basics like canned goods, long-life milk, fruit juice, pasta and rice.

The good causes we will be supporting this year are the Black Country Foodbank, which has centres across Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall, The Well (Home of Wolverhampton Food Bank), the Good Shepherd Ministry, based in Wolverhampton, The Haven and Cannock and District Food Bank.

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They are helping families and individuals in need every day and have seen numbers needing support continue to rise.

All support appreciated

Express & Star editor-in-chief Martin Wright said: "I am delighted to launch the Feed a Family campaign again this year.

"Last year, as in previous years, our incredibly kind and generous readers donated thousands of items that helped make Christmas better for families in need across the Black Country and Staffordshire.

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"The response was overwhelming and I am hoping that we can replicate that - or even better it - this time around.

"We all know that Christmas can be a really tough time so we are again calling on our readers for their help to make the festive season special for those struggling in our region.

"We have already had some fantastic pledges of support for which we are truly grateful. This is a fantastic and very worthy campaign and any help you can give will be greatly appreciated."

Where can I donate?

We have four drop-off points for your Feed A Family This Christmas donations.

These are:

  • Express & Star Wolverhampton head office: 51-53 Queen Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1ES
  • Waitrose Wolverhampton, Marston Road, Wolverhampton WV2 4NJ
  • Morrisons Bilston, Black Country Route, Bilston WV14 0DZ
  • Tesco Heath Hayes, Hawks Green District Centre, Hayes Way, Cannock WS12 3YY

What should I donate?

For those unsure of what items are needed and suitable, here is an easy-to-follow list of the most useful products to donate to our very worthy causes.

Christmas items

All of the items in this list need to have ‘best before’ dates beyond December :

  • Mince pies
  • Christmas cake
  • Christmas puddings
  • Chocolates including selection boxes

Cupboard essentials

  • Breakfast cereal (preferably non-sugared)
  • Milk (UHT or powder, preferably semi-skimmed)
  • Jam, marmalade
  • Fruit Juice (long-life)
  • Small jars of coffee
  • Hot chocolate
  • Tinned meat (ham,corned beef, Spam)
  • Tinned ready meals (chilli, meatballs, stew)
  • Tinned vegetarian ready meals (curry, ratatouille, macaroni cheese)
  • Packets of mashed potato/tinned potatoes
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Tinned fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines)
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Pasta sauce/cooking sauces
  • Tinned fruit (in juice preferably)
  • Tinned rice pudding/custard
  • Healthy snacks (small boxes of raisins/apricots)
  • Biscuits, crackers, crispbreads

Toiletries

  • Deodorants
  • Shampoo
  • Shower Gel
  • Soap
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Sanitary towels

Where are the donations going?

Black Country Foodbank

Every month thousands of people are being fed thanks to emergency supplies from the Black Country Foodbank - and sadly the number of children needing help is also rising.

During the first quarter of 2019/20, the charity provided more than 2,450 meals for youngsters - an increase of 35 per cent on last year.

There was also huge demand over the summer holidays when families' budgets were also under pressure due to funding childcare over the summer and the cost of buying new uniforms.

The charity has a central warehouse in Brierley Hill where a team of volunteers check and sort donations before they are distributed to 21 centres scattered across Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall.

Jen Coleman, office manager at the charity, said: "Black Country Foodbank have seen figures rise again this year because many families are experiencing huge financial difficulties due to low income.

"As food prices rise, income is being stretched so thinly that many parents are going without food so their children can eat. Christmas and the cold weather only add to the problems.

"Financial pressures rise and many families will choose between heating and eating. Please keep donating and supporting those who are struggling with the most basic need of food."

The Well in Wolverhampton

The Well in Wolverhampton has given our almost 9,500 food parcels in 12 months and has seen the numbers needing helping support increase

Co-project leader Caroline Price said: "Last year (2018/19) was our busiest since we started in 2006. With the help of the generous donations from the people of our city we were able to give emergency parcels to 9,475 individuals - a third of these were under 16 years.

"Sadly, this year the need is continuing to increase - at the end of October we had supported 600 more people compared to the same point last year.

"We have just received support enabling us to purchase two larger vans, and will be running a third van to enable us to increase deliveries in 2020.

"The support we receive through Feed A Family At Christmas is vital to our work. Thank you and God's rich blessing on everyone who donates."

Cannock and District Food Bank

Cannock and District Food Bank has seen around a 37 per cent rise in the number of people referred to the charity for help this year.

Project manager Adam Tilsley said:"A total of 4,083 people have been helped by the food bank this year. This included 1,300 children. We're seeing more and more people needing help so we really appreciate the support of the Feed a Family This Christmas campaign."

The Good Shepherd

During the past six months the Good Shepherd has supported 520 people, providing 1,422 hot takeout meals, served up 3,355 hot meals in the dining room and handed out 242 food parcels.

It has also assisted 42 rough sleepers into emergency accommodation, four into temporary and 11 into long-term homes. The charity has also prevented 13 people from ending up on the streets.

The Haven

Our appeal will also be supporting The Haven which provides both practical and emotional support services to women and children who are affected by domestic violence and homelessness.

Chocolate selection boxes will be passed on to the charity to give youngsters some much-needed Christmas cheer and can be dropped off at our offices in Queen Street.

Senior community fundraiser Jade Secker said: “Everyone at The Haven is incredibly grateful to the Express & Star for supporting us once again through the Feed a Family appeal. We want to say a big thank you to all those in the community who are supporting this appeal.

"Everyone deserves to experience the magic of Christmas; for those who have been subjected to domestic abuse and homelessness, this can be a dark and difficult time of year.

"With your support and your kind donations through this appeal, we hope to provide a festive day where women and children at The Haven can experience an authentic Christmas and build new happy memories together as they begin new lives away from the fear of abuse.”

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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