Mystery donor gives £10k to Morecambe foodbank as New York Times publishes town's poverty story

Photo Neil Cross Annette Smith of the Morecambe Bay Foodbank.Photo Neil Cross Annette Smith of the Morecambe Bay Foodbank.
Photo Neil Cross Annette Smith of the Morecambe Bay Foodbank.

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A mystery donor has given £10,000 to Morecambe Bay Foodbank in the same week The New York Times published a story about child poverty in the town.

An anonymous benefactor donated £10,000 to the charity, run by the Trussell Trust, after it put out an appeal to purchase a new van to deal with increasing demand.

Meanwhile The New York Times visited Morecambe Bay Primary School and Morecambe Bay Foodbank, who are at the frontline of attempting to tackle the issues resulting from controversial benefit changes, low and unstable wages, and the ever increasing cost of living.

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Joanna Young, chair of trustees at the foodbank, said she was “amazed and delighted” by the generosity of the mystery donor, and the money would help to run the Christmas operation much more efficiently.

Joanna Young, Morecambe Bay Foodbank chair of trustees.Joanna Young, Morecambe Bay Foodbank chair of trustees.
Joanna Young, Morecambe Bay Foodbank chair of trustees.

In the New York Times feature “In Britain, even children are feeling the effects of austerity”, the newspaper highlighted the growing need in Morecambe, where the number of children who received at least one parcel of free food from the foodbank has almost doubled to 1,229 in 2017-8 from 656 in 2013-4.

Joanna explained how The New York Times came to be in Morecambe.

“They approached Bowerham School in Lancaster where I’m a governor,” she said.

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“So I sent them an email about the foodbank and Morecambe Bay School.

Annette Smith, right, with some of the Morecambe Bay Foodbank volunteers.Annette Smith, right, with some of the Morecambe Bay Foodbank volunteers.
Annette Smith, right, with some of the Morecambe Bay Foodbank volunteers.

“We participated because it’s our job as a foodbank to highlight what’s going on in our community.

“What we’ve seen is a relentless increase in the numbers of children at the foodbank, and that’s why we’ve started the uniform project.

“Children are going to school without coats or proper shoes, or enough to eat, and their parents can’t afford to buy new uniforms.

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“Every week we hope that number will go down, but it doesn’t, it just gets worse and worse.”

Morecambe Bay Foodbank.Morecambe Bay Foodbank.
Morecambe Bay Foodbank.

Despite the prospects in parts of Morecambe apparently looking up with the Bay Gateway, new luxury housing developments, new bars and restaurants, and potentially game-changing plans for an Eden Project North, there are still significant issues that the town needs to address.

And the work being done by the foodbank has seemingly struck a chord with someone who is able to readily part with £10,000.

“We put an appeal out on JustGiving to raise money for a new long wheel based van, so we could sort the food out in the back of the van making things much more efficient.

“Days later we received a donation of £10,000.”

This was on top of the £130 raised by the campaign so far.

“We’re amazed and delighted,” Joanna said.

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“It’s going to enable us to run our Christmas operation much more efficiently.

“It’s incredible.

“Whoever it is, we just want to say a huge thankyou for this fantastic donation.”

But however welcome and needed, the £10,000 donation doesn’t address the more deep-rooted causes of poverty in Morecambe.

“it’s our job to report what’s happening,” Joanna said.

“The Trussell Trust works very hard to engage with policymakers and so do we.

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“We hoped that by being in the piece, we could continue to raise the issue of there being a serious problem with child poverty in the north west of England.

“One thing we’ve seen increasingly this year is that low income is the reason given for needing to use the foodbank.

“People haven’t got enough money to live, pay their rent and bills, and eat.

“Wages just aren’t covering people’s lives.

“This includes minimum wage jobs, insecure work, and zero hours contracts, and the benefits system is not flexible or generous enough to make up the shortfall.”

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The New York Times reported that at Morecambe Bay Primary School, around a third of children would not eat breakfast if the school didn’t provide it.

Joanna said that this was in a large part down to the rollout of Universal Credit, where Morecambe acted as a pilot project for the controversial changes two years ago.

She said: “Universal Credit still needs sorting out, certainly in terms of reducing waiting times.

“If we’re going to live in an economy like this, we need to have a very flexible and generous benefits system.

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“The impact of all of this poverty is going to be very expensive in the long run in terms of mental and physical health.

“And also education - children can’t learn if they’re hungry.

“This is a very expensive way to run a country.

“The stress of living at that level of vulnerability has a massive impact.”

Joanna added: “The work that Siobhan Collingwood does at Morecambe Bay Primary School is amazing and it’s an honour to work in partnership with her.

“We shouldn’t have to be doing this, and I think it’s very brave of Siobhan to have spoken up in this way.”

See the New York Times article HERE