The Church in Wales has said the cost of living crisis is having a direct impact on its foodbanks in South Wales.
It said in addition to more people needing foodbanks, the crisis is made worse as donations and supplies to distribution centres are dwindling.
Fr Gareth Coombes, an overseer for the Taff Bargoed Foodbank team said, “In terms of the cost of all areas of fuel, gas and electricity and those types of things, the increase is just huge and people are struggling. People just don't know what to choose whether food or bills.”
Rev Lynda Newman, another foodbank overseer added: “People who depend on their car to use for their job can’t afford to put petrol in their car to come down to the foodbank and they will walk all that way.”
Almost a quarter of people in Wales live in poverty, and Llandaff covers some of the most deprived parts of Wales, with six of the ten most deprived within the Diocese of Llansdaff. The South Wales Valleys are areas of particular need, with over half of working age adults out of work.
Vicki Rawlinson, Neath Foodbank coordinator said: “People are paying their bills and then eating comes last in some cases… We had an individual last week who said she could not do anymore hours and she still wasn’t making ends meet. I feel we see far too many women with children who have no support and we see quite a few people in domestic abuse situations.”
Taff Bargoed Community Foodbank in Nelson became part of the Trussell Trust at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, the team have opened a second distribution centre in Treharris to keep up with the demand for more foodbank services.
Fr Gareth said: “Physical donations of food have dropped off completely. So, there's very little that's coming in from the community in our drop off and collection points. We're having to rely on grant funding and working with partners and types of charitable organisations, in order that we can keep our shelves stocked.”
The Church in Wales highlighted that although there may be a shortage of donations, there is no shortage of volunteers.
“Some of the stories that we hear are really humbling and the communities really are supportive,” said Fr Gareth.
“There are volunteers from within the community, there are volunteers from within the church congregations and other denominations have come on board to help as well. So, it's really bringing the community together. We've got a team of dedicated long-term volunteers who have been with us from the very beginning, and we are bringing people on board all the time.”
The foodbank coordinators have called people to donate if they can. In the last year foodbanks in the Trussell Trust network provided more than 2.1 million food parcels to people across the UK.
Fr Gareth said one of the ways the crisis can begin to improve is “supporting those organisations that are trying to help because there is very little support and financial support for us. More support and investment from the people that can make a difference will help us make a difference.”
Listen to Premier’s interview with Rev Lynda Newman here: