Stephanie Brown And Daughterumi (1)

Stephanie Brown and daughter

A group of photographers are asking households across the North East of England to make a donation to a local food bank in exchange for a unique family portrait.

People in North Tyneside and Sunderland are supporting The Bay Foodbank and Washington Community Food Project from the safety of their own home, and observing social distancing, thanks to four local photographers who are collecting donations and capturing life in lockdown with a doorstep picture as they take up their daily exercise.

In his day job, Stuart Fearn looks after the branch network of Newcastle Building Society, and has teamed up with Zoe Campbell Photography, Mark Lloyd and Steve Atkinson from Mission Studios to take photos and encourage donations.

Stuart said: “This is a strange time for everyone, it’s something that will, hopefully, only happen once in our lifetime. Food banks are so much busier than usual right now and are under pressure due to a drop-off in donations. Zoe and I wanted to do something to help out. I’m a keen photographer, and I know of the Bay Foodbank through the Society as we’ve helped out previously with volunteering and grants. It seems like a great opportunity to support the food bank through my passion.”

To adhere to social distancing guidelines, all photos are taken during the snappers’ daily exercise and from the bottom of the footpath as the residents pose on their doorstep or at their window. At the same time, the photographers – who are doing this in their local areas of Wallsend, North Shields and Washington – collect the residents’ food donation and take it to the food bank.

Stuart continued: “We have a fantastic network of photographers in the North East, who I knew would be keen to get on board. I wanted to get a few involved to try and maximise the impact across the region. So I was delighted that Zoe, Mark and Steve all wanted to be a part of it and do this together.”

More than 60 homes have already signed up to take part in the ‘exchange’ through North Shields and Wallsend Facebook groups with Washington Facebook groups now taking it up also for the benefit of the Washington Community Food Project.

Jackie Dickinson, Manager at the Bay Foodbank, said: “This is a busy time for food banks and a really difficult time for those who rely on us, so to see our local communities coming together and thinking of innovative ways in which food can be donated is really heart-warming.

“I just want to thank everyone for all the work they’re doing to help with this amazing project, I think it’s a fabulous way of remembering a very unreal time and in the process raising awareness of food poverty in the UK and especially in our own communities. I can’t say it enough, a big thank you to everyone involved, giving food, funds, time and some amazing memories in the process.”

Amanda Armstrong
Article by Amanda Armstrong
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