Cleveland Police opening foodbank for struggling Teesside officers

A police federation is opening a food bank for officers who are struggling to afford food.

Cleveland Police Federation chair Stephen Williams-Reader said it was a hard pill to swallow that cops needed to use food banks and he’s spoken to a number of people struggling to make ends meet.

He added that police officers were being neglected with a pay deal well below inflation.

The cost of living crisis is hitting people hard across the country. While inflation is not at the November peak of 11.1% it remains high at 10.7%.

Mr Williams-Reader said: “We know this problem is very real for our officers.

This time last year, in January 2022, I went public that our police officers and staff were using external food banks. We wanted to acknowledge this problem and help them out ourselves.

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“Our officers are putting their lives on the line every day to protect the public. But those same officers are struggling to pay their bills and feed their families. Why? Because the Government is continuing to neglect the protectors with a pay deal that’s well below inflation.

“We’re having cost-of-living meetings with the force and I’ve been banging the drum for our members. It’s a hard pill to swallow that cops are having to resort to food banks.”

The food bank should be set up by the end of next week and there will be donation points in each of the force’s four stations for people to give items.

The Federation will then collect these and bring them to its site on Yarm Road in Stockton for collection.

Police officers will be able to drop by anytime from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday and grab a ready-to-go food parcel.

Mr Williams-Reader said: “People can get easy, unsupervised access to get what they need, without facing any embarrassment.

“Some people might need things for their kids’ packed lunches or cover themselves for the week. The aim is for it to be accessible to all.”

The Federation chair said it was a sensitive, quiet building and police officers could trust that it would be discreet.

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There are also plans for a clothing collection point, with essential items like winter coats, shoes and school uniforms.

The Police Federation of England and Wales’ pay and morale survey found that one in ten Cleveland Police officers never or almost never had enough money to cover their essentials.

While 88% of officers at the force felt worse off financially than they were five years ago.

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