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Key to Life Foodbank

Key to Life is a vast operation providing emergency food and support to people in crisis and championing hard-pressed local families.


Key founded and leads the partnership that delivers Key to Life, the longest running foodbank in South Tyneside, which plays a crucial role in supporting some of the most vulnerable within our community, one of the most deprived areas of the country.

Key was the first charity in South Tyneside to run a foodbank, when people from local churches began making food bags for young people in 1992. We now work in partnership with South Tyneside Churches Together to provide emergency food and support to anyone in the borough experiencing hardship.

Key to Life is open 10am-4pm, Monday to Friday, and is based at Boldon Lane Library with drop-off points around South Shields.

Pre-loved School Uniform Exchange

The long-established scheme provides families with free school uniform for their children, whatever their circumstances, and is a fantastic way for families to reduce, reuse and save cash

There’s a wide selection of uniform available for primary and secondary schools through South Tyneside plus coats, bags, and shoes.

Give us a call on 07833 613 393 to bag your FREE school uniform (we’ll need to know your child’s school & age/size of uniform items you require in order to help).

Donations of outgrown uniform for South Tyneside schools, clean and in good condition, can also be dropped off during opening hours.


Help for families this Easter

FREE holiday activities & food support

”We’ve seen a staggering 310% increase in the number of referrals and are now feeding over 16,000 people annually as a direct result of the pandemic. Combined with the increase in fuel and energy prices and the removal of the £20 Universal Credit Uplift many are facing desperate hardship.”

Jo Benham Brown, Business Development and Communities Manager

What we do

Key to Life’s Team Leader oversees a team of around 40 dedicated volunteers who field telephone enquiries, welcome people, and signpost to other services; sort and pack food parcels; collect donations from around the community and offer homebound delivery.

We make sure families experiencing hardship stay fed and entertained during the school holidays – find out more.

We provide families with free school uniform for their children, whatever their circumstances, through our long-running annual free uniform exchange.

We make Christmas special for families who may have little food in the house, and whose children might not otherwise receive a present, through our annual Christmas Appeal.

Get Help

From Monday 4 April 2022 we are no longer able to allow self-referrals to our food bank.

If you need an emergency food parcel, you can ask for a referral from an organisation that’s already supporting you (e.g., a charity, school, or children’s centre) as well as agencies such as the Welfare Support Service on 0191 424 6040, Citizens Advice on 0191 455 7958, or your GP.

Please click on the link for a list of other local support services that may be able to help or for council details of support with cost of living and warm spaces.


How you can help

  • Drop-off urgently needed food items direct to us at Boldon Lane Library (postcode NE34 0LZ), open Mon-Fri 10-4, or to local supermarket donation points
  • Host a food collection at your school, church, or business, if you can do so safely (we’ll collect if necessary)
  • Make a financial donation:
  • Volunteer your time – we’re always on the look-out for more volunteers to join the team. If you’re interested, please complete the form below.

Make big savings on your weekly shop

"Just wanted to say a huge thank you to the lady who helped me today, please thank everyone for your kindness and for those volunteers who make receiving these parcels a pleasant experience, no judgement , welcoming and hugely understanding."

Key to Life Foodbank user

In partnership:

Become a volunteer

We are always on the lookout for more volunteers to join our team. If you are interested, please complete the form below:

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