Newtown food bank sees 25 per cent increase in demand
A mid Wales food bank has seen a 'scandalous' surge in use during this first six months of the year.
The service in Newtown, which is based at the Salvation Army shop in Market Street, has experienced its most challenging year to date.
Regional Assembly Member Eluned Morgan and local Labour activists recently met with staff at the food bank, where they were told 258 crisis packages have been handed out in the last six months - a 25 per cent increase on last years' figures.
“People are living on a financial tightrope,” Mrs Morgan said.
“Many have just enough to get by each week - there’s no 'rainy day' reserves and many are pushed into serious difficulties by a big bill or a gap in income. The choice between heating or eating is the reality for families plunged into debt.”
Food bank manager, Coleen O'Brien, said more and more people are turning to their service.
"Based on what we are seeing so far, we estimate that we will be supporting over 500 families this year," she said.
"Without the generous donations of food and goods to us here on Market Street in Newtown, it would continue to be increasingly testing to meet the needs of those within our community.
"The goods we receive are sold through our shop and converted to funds that enable to us to keep the food bank available."
In addition to the providing free breakfasts every Sunday, the team have recently launched a monthly meet-up at Newtown's Costa Coffee, providing a safe space for people to discuss issues such as homelessness, modern day slavery and family tracing.
The next session is on July 21.
Mrs Morgan said it is concerning that the UK, which is the fifth richest country in the world, continues to see a growing independence on food banks.
"It is scandalous and beyond concerning," she added.
"While the Tory government in Westminster is well aware of the factors driving so many vulnerable families into poverty, they are choosing not to act. Instead, they are shamefully passing on their duty of care to charities.
“I'd like to thank Coleen and all of the brilliant volunteers at Newtown's Salvation Army for their generosity and compassion in the face of such challenging circumstances - their vital work truly provides a lifeline for so many in the community."