Facebook 'Food bank challenge' fills trolleys across England

Trolleys Image copyright Coventry Foodbank
Image caption A food bank in Coventry said it was "stunned" by the influx of donations

A social media challenge where people film themselves filling a trolley with donations for food banks has been described as a "Christmas miracle".

Watson Harrop, 29, a proud Gypsy from Bishop Auckland in County Durham challenged his friends on Facebook to film themselves loading up a trolley.

Mr Harrop said he had heard the challenge had now spread worldwide.

Food banks nationwide have thanked the generosity of the traveller community which is where the trend first started.

One food bank in Coventry told the BBC it had received enough donations as a result of this challenge to feed people into the new year.

Image caption Watson Harrup set up a Facebook page which has more than 1,600 followers

"This Christmas, there's going to be children going without food and that's the problem for me," Mr Harrop said.

Raising awareness

"The concept is quite simple," he said. People film themselves with their food bank donations and challenge friends to do the same on social media.

He said it was "irrelevant" how much money people spend on the shopping. "If someone buys 10 tins of beans for £2, that is good enough".

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Simon Duggan was nominated on Monday and made a donation to his local food bank in Dungannon, Northern Ireland.

"It wouldn't have crossed my mind to donate to a food bank," he said, but the campaign is helping to "raise awareness".

"Other people are more needy," he said. "And it's obviously a good cause."

Image caption Mr Watson is hopeful his football club Newcastle United will get involved with the challenge

At one local food bank in Darlington, manager Caroline Todd said the influx of donations has been "an absolute miracle of Christmas".

'Wages don't stretch far'

"I've never seen anything like it," she said. "I was absolutely speechless."

Coventry Food bank manager Hugh McNeil said he was "stunned" as he received calls from supermarkets with trolleys of donations to collect.

"It's a real bonus for us," he said, adding that the 17 centres in Coventry distribute three tonnes of food per week.

In Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, food banks said they were "blown away" by the generosity of the traveller community.

Mr Harrop said one of his local food banks now had enough food to last until July.

"Sadly wages don't stretch far enough," he said, "but if people can get a leg up... one of those kids might get something for Christmas."

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