As we close in on the festive season and a time when most thoughts will turn to holidays, presents and bountiful Christmas dinners, Identity Consult is delighted to be able to put something back into the community by donating to help the poorest in our society.
Identity Consult’s staff will enjoy an extra day’s holiday this Christmas after supporting Durham Foodbank’s Shildon Depot with a donation of £775. Staff generously agreed to purchase an additional day’s holiday from the company with all the money raised going towards the most needy at this time of year.
Official statistics show that one in four people in County Durham live in poverty. This year, Durham Foodbank has helped 15,000 people – a 50% rise over the previous year. Identity Consult’s Managing Director, David Dent chose the Shildon Depot as his favoured distribution centre for the company’s fundraising because he is originally from the town.
Identity Consult’s Financial Controller and Office Manager, Beverley Reece, met Peter Maclellan, a Director of Durham Foodbank and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Durham Christian Partnership who operate the foodbanks in the region, and Derick Dunn of the Shildon branch of the Salvation Army, who host the distribution centre, to present the fundraising cheque.
“All of the staff were very keen to help this worthy cause,” said Beverley. “We are in the fortunate position where we can afford to buy an extra day’s holiday but there are so many people in our communities who are not so lucky. We already sponsor Shildon Football Club and the Shildon AFC Development Centre and it was natural to choose the Shildon Depot of Durham Foodbank for our support.”
Thanking Beverley for the staff’s generosity, Mr Maclellan explained that while the majority of donations to the charity are food, cash is also very welcome: “We give out the equivalent of over £150,000 worth of food each year, which is obviously a substantial amount and as Beverley arrived today, so did the van that delivers the food to the centre. The van clearly doesn’t run on fresh air and goodwill; it takes money to run that van.
“The organisation has also grown rapidly from the one depot in Durham city to 25 depots across the county, so alongside the 300 and more volunteers, we have a had to take on some employees. As you can imagine, with over 300 people involved it takes a great deal of coordination and we can’t ask volunteers to take on a full time job without pay – although some of them do – so we operate with a small core of paid staff.
“By our estimation, continued Peter, “for every pound we receive in cash, three pounds worth of food gets out to people. Indeed, some people donate cash specifically to buy food, which is very helpful because it allows us to replenish stock that runs low. Each person who visits the foodbank receives three days worth of food and we ensure that they receive a balanced diet. We receive more of certain items than we do of others, so the cash is very helpful – and of course cash doesn’t have a sell by date, so we can store it for as long as we need to before spending it.”
Winter is a particularly demanding time, with poorer families often having to make a choice between food and heating their homes and so creating the crisis that forces them to the foodbank. At this time of year the foodbank runs a Christmas appeal so that it can give some more on top of the usual supply, adding a little Christmas cheer to alleviate some of the dismay at needing to use the service. Christmas pudding, tins of ham, Christmas biscuits and snacks and chocolate selection packs for the children; as Peter says, “some of the extras that those of us who are doing all right take for granted.”
Identity Consult Managing Director, David Dent said: “I am delighted that we at Identity Consult are in a position to provide some support at this time of year to complement the efforts of the centre, which provides such a fantastic service to those less fortunate.
“I grew up in Shildon and have retained an involvement with the town through the football club and its Development Centre. Our support with this initiative is just another way of putting something back into a frontline service where hopefully some less fortunate than ourselves will not have to make the decision between heating or food; maybe now they can have both.
“I was really lucky that when growing up that decision never had to be made in our house but I do know people who do make this decision every week and buying another day’s holiday and converting this into a donation for the centre is really the least we can do as we approach the Christmas period.”
If you would like to help Durham Foodbank by making a donation of either cash or food, or by volunteering, more information about distribution and collection centres, the types of donation the charity requires and other ways you can help are available at the Durham Foodbank website.