By Herbert Soden LDRS
More than 6,000 struggling Gateshead residents asked for help during the coronavirus crisis.
A report heard by Gateshead Council’s communities and place overview and scrutiny committee revealed figures gathered until the end of November.
This shock data showed that “support hubs” set up to help people plunged into crisis by the pandemic were dealing with 100 cases a day in April, and in the middle of that month this peaked at 135.
These hubs were managed by the council’s neighbourhood management and volunteering team with support from other services.
By the end of November the authority received 6,289 individual requests for help according to the report.
However, this figure does not include repeat requests.
More than half of these requests, 55%, were for emergency food, 17% was for help with “routine shopping”, and 11% for help with utility bills.
A food parcel distribution centre was set up at Gateshead International Stadium, with parcels dispatched for delivery to the doorstep within 24 hours of the request.
The wards with the highest demand for assistance were High Fell, Felling, Deckham, Lamesley and Bridges.
Council tenants in difficulty could also get assistance from the Gateshead Housing Company’s rent and income service.
This team handled 41,000 enquiries from residents worried about their incomes as a result of a change in circumstances.
More than 1,000 requests are still being made to the team each week.
The team is also able to arrange for emergency food to be delivered to struggling tenants , and have sent more than 500 parcels.
The report said recovery action for council tax and rent arrears were suspended for tenants suffering loss of income.
It said: “TGHC identified around 4,500 residents in need of some kind of further financial advice and either supported them directly or made applications for support on their behalf. So far this has generated over £588k of financial support.”