Commissioner praises food banks following timely visit and donation (21 Dec 2018)

7Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) paid a timely visit to one of the county's food banks last week (13/12).

The visit followed a joint donation from Mark and the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, of nearly £50,000 to foodbanks across West Yorkshire earlier this year.

The donation was made to the Yorkshire Food Poverty Network with monies from the Police Property Act Fund which is created from the sale of recovered stolen property where the owners are not known and cannot be traced, and is used for charitable causes.

The West Yorkshire Food Poverty Network is made up of 5 smaller food networks that cover each district of West Yorkshire. The Network ensures all 5 areas are working together to bring about a coordinated approach to tackling food poverty.

Mark went to Kirklees charity, Fusion Housing in Dewsbury as part of a visit to the local Neighbourhood Policing Team.

Additionally the Office visited The Welcome Centre in Huddersfield this week who also benefitted from the joint donation as well as a specific project which was funded by Mark's Safer Communities Fund.

The Welcome Centre received £4,700.95 from the Safer Communities Fund to run activities for children and families in the school holidays to encourage them to engage with the Welcome Centre and remove any stigma associated with using the food bank service. Whilst attending the activities the families received breakfast and lunch which aimed to tackle the prevalent issue of 'Holiday Hunger' which a number of communities face in West Yorkshire.

Mark said: "It's a very sad fact that food banks are needed across our districts, especially at this time of the year, and I was pleased to be able to provide some assistance with the joint donation.

"Fusion Housing and The Welcome Centre are two great examples of the fantastic on-going work across West Yorkshire to tackle food poverty, helping to ease the pressure on our communities in what can be very challenging times.

"I saw the difference these projects are making as well as the lengths they go to provide support and encourage people to make the most of their services. I want to put on record my thanks to staff and volunteers, both at the projects in Kirklees, and across the county working to support those in need this Christmas."

Ridhwan Nadat of Fusion Housing, said: "We were delighted to welcome the Police and Crime Commissioner at our offices. It gave us the opportunity to show at first hand the vital part our food banks play in the community. It also enabled us to show how our Charity uses the other services such as Housing Advice and Support and Learning and Employment for the benefit of our clients.

"We are currently facing an unprecedented demand for the food bank. The money donated by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire will go a long way to providing assistance to those in need as the demand is increasing. We have already surpassed last years number of food pack referrals which was at 1300 and we are expecting to hit over 2000 referrals in this financial year alone! This also does not take into consideration the toiletry packs, baby food, nappies, cleaning packs and much, much more that we give out as well as food."

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