Number using foodbanks in Wales more than doubles in year

One foodbank charity says the number of people it has seen has doubled in a year

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The number of people using foodbanks in Wales has more than doubled in the last year, the service's main provider says.

The Trussell Trust says 35,000 are using the service and has opened nine new centres across Wales in that time, six of them in north Wales.

One centre in south Wales has fed 350 people since opening 10 weeks ago.

Oxfam Cymru said rising costs, benefit changes and unemployment were creating a "perfect storm" making it impossible for people to feed themselves.

Tony Graham, Wales manager for Trussell which has 25 foodbanks, said: "We're finding right across Wales there's a dramatic and increasing need.

"People are finding their income levels are remaining static while the cost of living is going up.

"There has been something like a 55% increase in food banks but over 100% increase in people being fed.

View from a volunteer

Barbara works at Cathays foodbank in Cardiff.

She said: "I wish that there was a food bank 15 years ago when I was in crisis and living on £8 a week at that time.

"So I know and understand what it's like to be without money and food.

"So I just thank god that there are food banks throughout Wales because I've been there and know what it's like and how humiliating it can be as well, and you feel ashamed.

"I know the feeling and I just want to make [users] feel comfortable and welcome.

"All the food banks in north Wales, all six of them, have opened in the past 12 months.

"Clearly across north Wales there's an increasing awareness and recognition of the need for communities to come together and look after those in their own communities.

"Also in the valleys as you would expect there are high levels of deprivation so we're seeing a number of food banks opening in the valley."

'It's a relief'

One which recently opened was the Eastern Valley foodbank based in Pontypool serving the Blaenavon to Cwmbran area.

Mr Graham said they had fed 350 people in the 10 weeks it had been open.

Kelly Hurst, from Butetown in Cardiff, has had to use a foodbank while changes in her benefits go through.

She said: "You do feel like a scrounger but at the end of the day if it wasn't for these places you would be hungry and you wouldn't be able to go about your daily routine.

Another user, Anthony from Tremorfa, said: "I'm on the sick at the moment from an attack which left me with a brain injury. I couldn't beg for food, it's against the law and this is the only way I can get food.

Oxfam Cymru is one of the organisations supporting the foodbank programme.

Director Julian Rosser said: "These shocking figures show that a perfect storm of spiralling living costs, lack of decent, secure jobs and benefit changes are making it impossible for many people to feed themselves or their families.

"It's clear there is a massive hole in the safety net when so many more people are being forced to rely on emergency food handouts.

"We are worried this could be just the tip of the iceberg as changes to the welfare system already in the pipeline could rip apart the safety net with devastating consequences for those in Wales who rely on it."

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