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THE number of people who used Newport Foodbank increased by around 35 per cent last year, figures show.

Thousands of people in Newport and Gwent have turned to foodbanks in the last year.

In 2020, Newport Foodbank provided food for 5,180 people, up from 3,840 in 2019 - a rise of about 35 per cent.

Last month alone, 556 people used the city foodbank up to December 23. 

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Eastern Valley Foodbank in Pontypool has provided food for 5,433 people since March when the first lockdown started.

And Blaenau Gwent Foodbank supported 1,443 families, made up of 2,070 adults and 1,159 children, since March.

Free Press Series: Blaenau Gwent Foodbank

Blaenau Gwent foodbank

Manager of Newport Foodbank, Jon Slocombe, said numbers have increased since March due to the economic fallout of coronavirus.

“We are in a situation where there are a lot of people in crisis at the moment,” Mr Slocombe said. “You can see that from the year-on-year increase.

“I think it’s come partly because of the pandemic.

Free Press Series: Jon Slocombe at the Newport Foodbank in Malpas

Jon Slocombe at the Newport Foodbank in Malpas

“We are in this unprecedented situation and people are falling into crisis which is sad and inevitable.”

Mr Slocombe said the increase in usage comes as The Trussell Trust charity attempts to end the need for foodbanks.

As well as feeding people in crisis, the city foodbank works with Newport City Council, Citizens Advice Bureau, housing associations and others to provide support.

Due to coronavirus, the foodbank is operating on an appointment basis, where food is collected at an arranged time.

Free Press Series: Volunteers at the Newport Foodbank in Malpas pack bags with food for families in need

Volunteers at the Newport Foodbank in Malpas pack bags with food for families in need

Mr Slocombe said the foodbank has also seen an increase in the number of people making donations during the pandemic.

“The public have been phenomenal in their giving and in their generosity,” he said.

Blaenau Gwent Foodbank volunteers are delivering food across the borough to those who have been referred.

Foodbanks in the borough have been closed for collections, but donations can still be made at centres in Ebbw Vale, Brynmawr and Beaufort.

Free Press Series: Tai Calon Community Housing drivers helped Blaenau Gwent Foodbank deliver during the pandemic

Tai Calon Community Housing drivers helped Blaenau Gwent Foodbank deliver during the pandemic

Wayne Evans, project manager, said there has been an increase in people using the foodbank who have lost their jobs.

“We are seeing people come forward who were in good jobs,” he said.

“They are now finding themselves in a very difficult situation.

“We are getting a lot of people who are embarrassed about coming but we are trying to reassure them that we can all find ourselves in this situation.

“We are all only one month away from this situation.”

Eastern Valley Foodbank is also providing food deliveries due to coronavirus.

Free Press Series: Jon Slocombe (front) with L-R Beccy Smith, Kate Slocombe and Jason Bellia at the Newport Food Bank in the city centre . 
www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

Jon Slocombe (front) with L-R Beccy Smith, Kate Slocombe and Jason Bellia at the Newport Food Bank in the city centre. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

Helen Leek, of the Pontypool centre, said the number of people provided with food increased by about 70 last year.

“I think the biggest impact is still to come,” Ms Leek said.

“A lot of the people we were originally supporting were people who were not working anyway.

“What we have started to see now is more job losses and businesses not recovering, so I think we will see an increase.”

For information on foodbanks in your area, contact your local authority.