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Business & Economy

Wooler community food larder planned thanks to Newcastle Building Society grant

A North Northumberland charitable community development trust is set to extend its drive to tackle food poverty and access to fresh local produce with the help of a grant from Newcastle Building Society.

Two years ago, the Glendale Gateway Trust took on responsibility for managing the food bank service in Wooler, from the Cheviot Centre community building that it owns and operates in the heart of the town.

Since then, the centre has acted as a hub for both food donations and the delivery of up to 20 food parcels every week to individuals and families living in the surrounding area.

And now, the trust is using a £1000 Newcastle Building Society grant to build a community food larder, which will be available for the community to exchange fresh locally-grown produce or items they have an excess of, as well as being a food bank drop-off point.

The new larder is expected to be in place later this year, and the trust is now looking to increase the team of volunteers that it can call upon to help with its day-to-day running of the food bank, including deliveries, which already includes staff at the mutual’s local branch.

The funding has been provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by its branch network.

The Glendale Gateway Trust, which celebrated its silver jubilee last year, supports people living in one of the most sparsely populated areas of the country, with a population of just 6000 people living across 250 square miles of surrounding Northumberland countryside.

The Cheviot Centre opened in 2001, and as well as being the location of Newcastle Building Society’s community branch in the town, it also provides a home for a range of services, including the local library, tourist information centre and police.

The Trust is currently developing plans with local community groups to broaden the fresh food provision in Glendale, as well as working with a local log bank to address fuel poverty issues.

Gemma Douglas, project officer at the Glendale Gateway Trust, said: “We receive a lot of donations for the food bank at Cheviot Centre, but we also want to have somewhere green fingered members of the community can share and exchange their excess produce, separately to the food bank.

“We believe installing a food larder outside the building would be the perfect way to do this and will also enable us to increase the amount of fresh goods we put into the food parcels.

“The larder would have remained a much longer-term goal without Newcastle Building Society’s help, and we think it will help us make an even big difference across our community.”

A £15,000 Newcastle Building Society grant enabled the Glendale Gateway Trust to carry out essential repairs to the Cheviot Centre’s glazed atrium roof and re-carpet the building in advance of the opening its branch in the building in February 2020.

Siobhan Younger, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Wooler branch, added: “This is a great way for us to mark our second anniversary in the Cheviot Centre, and we can’t wait to see the new larder being put in place, as well as all the other plans in development.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has contributed more than £2.1 million in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s Trust.

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.