Reverse advent calendar provides relief for families facing cost of Christmas

A food bank which has seen demand for its services rocket since it launched just four years ago has welcomed a special delivery which will ease the pressure on families over Christmas.

Emma Hardy (left) with Terry and Dawn Sullivan, founders of HU4 Hub, at its centre in Sibelius Road.

The HU4 Hub received a box of food and personal hygiene products from Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy as part of her “reverse advent calendar” project, which also embraced other community organisations across the city.

Hub founders Dawn and Terry Sullivan said the MP’s initiative, launched three years ago, encourages members of the public to make donations of essential items to help local families over the festive season. But they also highlighted the need for year-round support to tackle the rising tide of poverty.

The couple launched the service in 2019 from the garage of their home and expanded it in September 2020 to create a community café in Sibelius Road.

Terry said: “We had a food bank from the start and began by providing help to about 15 families a week. In October this year we helped just over 2,000 people with our services and in November the number was 1,955.”

Dawn added: “It is incredibly important to support families at this time of year and we are very lucky that we have a lot of people who help us with donations of food, other items and money. But we all need to do more if we can.”

In addition to operating as the headquarters for the food bank, HU4 Hub welcomes people from the community to social events including Chatterbox Tuesday, Natterbags Thursday and presentations by various support agencies.

Ms Hardy became aware of the work which the Hub is doing in the community and included it alongside the Hull Foodbank and the Hessle and Anlaby Foodbank as beneficiaries from the reverse advent calendar.

The idea is that for a month from mid-November until a few days before Christmas people reverse the tradition of opening something for advent and instead put an item in a box every day. They then take the box to a food bank in time for Christmas week.

Having worked with others in her constituency to launch the scheme, Ms Hardy decided to continue it in response to figures which indicate that nearly one-third of the children living in her constituency are facing Christmas in poverty.

She said: “I believe that no one in our community should go hungry, especially during the festive season. The reverse advent calendar appeal is an opportunity for us to come together as a community and extend a helping hand to those facing challenging circumstances.

“I’m hearing from some foodbanks in our area that demand has more than doubled in just the past month and they’re only expecting this to keep rising. This generosity can make a significant difference in the lives of those most vulnerable in our community.”