Mental health issues are a “real concern among foodbank users” today, according to a charity boss.
Social enterprise Community Food Initiatives North East (Cfine), which is based in the city centre, has seen an increase in the number of people visiting who also have issues with their mental health.
Dave Simmers, chief executive of the charity, said: “For some years now we would be concerned about the level of mental health issues we’re faced with in our beneficiaries coming into the foodbank.
“It’s often tangible that there are various degrees of mental health concerns there including, for some, alcohol and drug issues
“More recently, it’s been recognised that a number of people are suffering from stress, anxiety, panic and depression round about the process of claiming benefits, for example.
“It’s a real concern for us, we do our best to support it.
“Social isolation’s a big issue, so where we can we make connections with people.
“If you’re going through the universal credit process, once you’ve got through it, you’ve got a waiting period.
“Please think about having to go to a foodbank to get your next meal and your child’s next meal. We’re very welcoming, non-judgmental and inclusive, but it’s still difficult for people.
“It affects their sense of self, who they are and contributes to poorer health and wellbeing.”
There are ways people can get involved and help as Original 106’s Christmas appeal, which is being backed by the Evening Express, shows.
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Dave added: “The appeal is going very well, we’re getting donations from the general public as well as corporates coming in as a result of the appeal.”
Nigel Henderson, CEO of mental health charity Penumbra, said the removal of some of the stigma around asking for help about mental health may be one reason why there is a rise in people coming forward.
He said: “I think there’s a number of factors at play here, but I think you can’t ignore the overarching environment which everyone’s working in, and after so many years of austerity and standstill budgets and cuts, the effect this is having.”