To mark 100 years of the WI, Bowes Belles set a challenge to raise £1000 to fill 100 food bags at Christmas for Gateshead Food Bank.  We felt that this was very fitting with the WI's ethos to increase the supply of food to a war-torn nation when the WI was set up 100 years ago. In 2015 the ethos and reputation of the WI remains the same, and women join now to meet new friends, learn new skills and make a difference on matters that are important to them now as fellow members did in 1915.

Over the last 12 months we've held coffee mornings, afternoon teas, evening meals, tombola's, guess the weight and names of the babies (yes, our members are young enough to have babies!), a 365-day raffle, shiatsu massages, teetotal days (tricky!), Smartie eating,and lots more!

Our members rose to the challenge, and raised a grand total of £2260.00!  This far exceeded our expectations.  We then learned that Washington Community Food Project were also in desperate need of donations, and given our fantastic fundraising efforts, our members agreed to donate a total of £1500.00 to Gateshead Food Bank, and £760.00 to Washington Community Food Project.


How a food bank works

Food is donated - Schools, churches, businesses and individuals donate non-perishable, in-date food to the Gateshead Foodbank. All food given out by foodbanks is donated. ‘Supermarket Collections’ are one of the main ways that food is donated: These are food drives held at supermarkets where volunteers give shoppers a ‘foodbank shopping list’ and ask them to buy an extra item or two for local people in crisis.

Food is sorted and stored - Volunteers sort food to check that it’s in date and pack it into boxes ready to be given to people in need.

Frontline care professionals identify people in need - Care professionals identify people in crisis and issue them with a foodbank voucher.

Clients receive food - Foodbank clients bring their voucher to the Gateshead Foodbank distribution centre inside the Gateshead Advice Centre where it can be redeemed for three days emergency food. Volunteers meet clients over a cup of tea or coffee and are able to signpost people to agencies able to solve the longer-term problem.