Vital care packages scheme set to continue for another year
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
A SERVICE which has helped dozens of dale residents most in need is set to continue for another year.
Teesdale Action Partnership (TAP) has allocated £26,000 to the Teesdale care packages project which is run by staff and volunteers based at the TCR Hub, in Barnard Castle.
The project was established during the first lockdown, almost a year ago and has received huge support from the community.
Care packages continue to be delivered weekly on Wednesdays and Saturday to about 100 households across the dale.
Rachel Tweddle, chief executive of the TCR Hub, said the extra funding – which is currently progressing through TAP's appraisal process – would enable the community hub to maintain the existing project and develop the service, based on need.
“We have been doing the care packages for 10 months now but we have also been collecting surplus food from local supermarkets and small businesses, running a community cafe when restrictions allow, growing our own produce and using it to make some nutritious meals for local families and providing hot meals for older people five days a week.”
The funding will mean The Hub can appoint a food provision co-ordinator to bring all of these services together and ensure that they are all streamlined, good quality and meeting the needs of our community.
“The funding is for 12 months and within that time we hope that our new team member will establish the use of surplus food and Hub grounds-grown food in meal packages, deliver cookery workshops and educate local people on food resilience,” added Ms Tweddle.
“We know that there can be issues about dependency on food banks and parcels and our co-ordinator will develop a strategy to ensure our care package recipients are supported with their needs and have the opportunity to engage with education about managing their money, making effective food choices and prioritising needs.
“The project is really exciting as we bring together all the efforts of the last year and start to move forward from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Food poverty and resilience is a highly emotive subject at the moment and one which we intend to tackle head on.”
Meanwhile, county councillors James Rowlandson and George Richardson have given £2,750 from their neighbourhood budgets to cover the cost of converting a small space into a new kitchenette.
Ms Tweddle explained this additional facility would be used by those using the accommodation at The Hub and remove the need for them to use the main cafe kitchen.
“As part of our strategic plan, we aim to work with more small businesses and new enterprises, particularly those being started by young people. A potential area of growth is our high standard commercial kitchen but in order to enable both the accommodation and kitchen to work simultaneously we need to separate the two at times,” she said.
“Previous accommodation guests have struggled to use the kitchen at the same time as our own cafe team and this has been very stressful for all parties.
“By developing the kitchenette our accommodation guests will be able to rustle up small meals, quick breakfasts and hot drinks easily and in close proximity to their bedrooms.
“In a world of heightened infection control and social distancing, providing more space for our service users and guests is one of our priorities to make their use of The Hub as comfortable as possible,” she added.