Shock at demand for Torfaen food parcels
More than 1,000 people in Torfaen have used the Eastern Valley food bank service in the past six-months.
Between February and July this year, 1,080 people in Torfaen have used the food bank at the Pavilion Industrial Estate, Pontnewynydd.
Councillor for the Abersychan ward, Wayne Tomlinson said that he was shocked to learn that in his own ward 130 people had used the service, including 74 adults and 56 children.
Cllr Tomlinson decided to learn more as he spent more than four years working for the Welsh Refugee Council in Newport, helping to give out food parcels to asylum seekers and refugees, and he wanted to see if there were comparisons.
He said: “I used to say I hope I don’t see this hardship affecting people living in this country, so hearing food parcels were being given out rang alarm bells.”
The food bank is operated by The Trussell Trust, a Christian organisation that is run by volunteers.
More than 370 foodbanks have sprung up in the UK to help the 13 million people who live below the poverty line due to rising costs of food and fuel, combined with static income, high unemployment and changes to benefits.
Cllr Tomlinson, who visited the food bank on July 26, said: “With the benefit cuts people are relying more and more on charity organisation such as this.
“It’s a sign of how things are going with cuts, but unfortunately there’s more to come.”
The service provides a box filled with donated food that is given to people who have been referred by care professionals such as doctors and social workers.
Clients receive three days of nutritionally balanced, nonperishable food.
Cllr Tomlinson added: “This service means a lot to people who without it would have gone hungry.
“I want to raise awareness in Torfaen so that people get the help they need from the service but also that people who can afford to do so, donate.”
The Trussell Trust says it is launching three new foodbanks every week to help meet demand.
The charity’s executive chairman Chris Mould said: “The sheer volume of people who are turning to foodbanks because they can’t afford food is a wake-up call to the nation.
“Politicians across the political spectrum urgently need to recognise the real extent ofUK food poverty and create fresh policies that better address its underlying causes.”
He reports that since benefit reforms in April, they have already seen increasing numbers of people in crisis.
He added: “Last year The Trussell Trust estimated that our foodbanks would help 250,000 people in 2012-13, we’ve helped 100,000 more than that.”
Only four per cent of people turned to foodbanks due to homelessness; 30 per cent were referred due to benefit delay; 18 per cent low income and 15 per cent benefit changes.
Other reasons included domestic violence, sickness, refused crisis loans, debt and unemployment. The majority of people turning to foodbanks were working age families.
For more information visit www.trusselltrust.org
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