Barry's Foodbank used by more than 2,600 people since launch
8:02am Thursday 5th September 2013 in News
MORE than 2,600 people from Barry are being forced to feed their families using the Vale’s Foodbank service.
Changes in the benefits system and delays in payments are being blamed for the increase which has seen a 24 per cent rise in the number of users in the last eight months .
The service relies on food donations from churches, individuals, groups and charities to help feed local people in crisis by providing food packages for individuals and families struggling to put food on the table.
Susan Lloyd-Selby, foodbank co-ordinator for the Vale, said that the service had noticed a significant increase in demand over the last few months.
“Since the foodbank opened, we have fed 2,630 people in Barry, of which 947 were children under 16,” she said.
“Since January 2013, we have seen a 24 per cent increase in the numbers of local people being referred to the foodbank by frontline care professionals because of benefit delays and benefit changes.
“In January we were feeding approximately 178 people a month and in August that rose to an average of 221.”
The Vale Foodbank is part of a franchise of foodbanks across the UK. The foodbank is an initiative of The Trussell Trust, a Christian based organisation, committed to launching life changing, community-based projects.
Ms Lloyd-Selby added: "What is particularly significant is the huge increase in people being referred to foodbanks as a result of benefit changes, up from ten per cent in 2012 to 16 per cent in the current financial year. As the Trussell Trust has made clear, this demonstrates a clear link between welfare reform and benefit changes.
“We are also seeing more people coming in as a result of the bedroom tax. For example, we recently provided food to a young working mum who had had her Housing Benefit cut and was unable to feed her two young children. It is heart breaking to see hard-working local people facing such hardship and we are grateful to everyone who donates food to enable us to respond to people in crisis."
Vale AM Jane Hutt said that there had been an “alarming increase” in the number of “hidden hungry” across Wales and praised the volunteers who help at the foodbank.
“Since it was launched it has been heartening to see so many volunteers in the Vale of Glamorgan willing to come forward to help others during these difficult times.
“People in the Vale are being hit hard by the UK Government’s raft of welfare cuts, specifically by changes to crisis loan eligibility rules, delays in payments, Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions and sickness benefit reassessments.
“As a result, there has been an alarming increase in the number of ‘hidden hungry’ right across Wales- which is shocking in this day and age.”
Vale MP Alun Cairns said that there was “a variety of reasons” behind why people were using the foodbank.
“It is sad to hear that so many people are needing to use the Foodbank. This will be for a variety of reasons; inability to manage money and to budget, addiction to alcohol or substance misuse, bullying at home, neglect by the benefit recipient and a range of other reasons. This is why I support the Foodbank initiative to prevent many innocent people being penalised.”
The Vale Foodbank was launched with a distribution centre at Barry’s Coastlands Family Church in 2011, with the second distribution centre launched at Bethesda Chapel in Dinas Powys in September last year and another at Bethel Baptist church in Llantwit Major in July this year.
Since it opened two years ago free emergency food has been provided to a total of 4,193 people in crisis across the Vale, including 1,573 children under 16.