Wrexham foodbank desperate for funding

Reporter:

Rory Sheehan

The Trussell Trust foodbank, based in a warehouse behind St James’s Church on Rhosddu Road near Wrexham town centre, delivers out to satellite foodbanks across the county in Caia Park, Gwersyllt, Ruabon and Cern Mawr.

In the first three months of this year it delivered a staggering 503 parcels to people in real need.

Last summer, staff faced a significant rise in referrals, which saw 828 parcels handed out from the start of May to the end of September 2016.

Figures compiled for May to July this year also show a slight rise again, although it is too early to say whether the figure for this summer overall will be higher than last year.

What is clear is there is a desperate need for the foodbank to exist, yet its very existence relies on the goodwill and kindhearted donations of more fortunate members of the public.

Project manager Sally Ellinson said: “We desperately need money because if we can’t pay the rent, there is no foodbank.

“Funding would help us get heating for the warehouse as currently we don’t have any and the volunteers will be freezing during the winter.”

Sally says there are many myths about foodbanks and people who visit them – but that they are a last resort for those with genuinely no other means of feeding themselves or their children at a time of crisis.

“It’s not just people who are unemployed or homeless, people who work come here too”, she says.

“There is a misconception it is just for the homeless.

“The majority of people who come here say they never thought they would ever need to, have been in work all their lives.

“All it takes is a run of misfortune, redundancy or the car breaking down, the boiler going, or a funeral to arrange, happening around the same time and that would wipe most people out financially.

“It is crisis alleviation, not for ongoing support.

“Everyone is assessed before they are referred to us by various agencies and there is a limit to the amount of parcels you can receive within a certain period.

“But we would never say no to someone who was in desperate need.”

Volunteers are currently gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year – harvest – followed quickly by Christmas.

The foodbank is open on Tuesdays and Thursday’s to receive donations from churches and individuals, companies, which are collected from local supermarkets.

TRW Transport have been providing delivery since responded to a Facebook plea.

Sally says that, as well as food, the foodbank also provides toiletries and pet food thanks to donations, as well access to projects offering further help.

These include the ‘Eat Well Spend Less’ course in basic cooking skills and the Money Life scheme where volunteers can help clients access the Turn2Us financial suport website.

That is an example of support the foodbank hope to provide should demand decrease. in the future.

She says: “Ideally, in 10 years’ time we would not be needed, or instead be focusing more on giving advice about healthy cooking and budgeting which we do now, but I think we have always been needed and always will be.

“We are expecting a spike in referrals once the new Universal Credit benefits start in October, as that is what has happened after it has been introduced in other areas – foodbank referrals have gone through the roof.

“In past times neighbours used to support each other and share food, but that sense of community isn’t there in many places these days and you might not know your next door neighbours is struggling.

“By donating to the foodbank you can help them albeit via a less direct route.”

She adds: “In the near-future we would really like to offer fuel vouchers.

“There is nowhere in Wrexham at the moment which provides fuel vouchers for gas and electricity.

“The notion that people are in the position of having to choose between heating and eating some days is very true.”

There are hidden costs to running the foodbank which include utilities and insurance, and volunteers are grateful for every bit of support they receive, although Sally adds there is a pressing need for more help.

“I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who donates,” she says. “It is all run by volunteers and donations.

“But we always need more donations, volunteers and money to help us keep going.”

Currently the foodbank is in need of tinned items – ham, corned beef, tomatoes, rice pudding, and biscuits, UHT milk cartons, fruit juice cartons, coffee, Weetabix tinned fruit and vegetables.

It has plenty of beans, soup, tea, fish, cereal, tinned potatoes, ready meals, toiletries and pet food.

The foodbank is unable to accept fresh, chilled frozen or out of date food.

If anyone wishes to make a donation they can go online and do so via the website – wrexham.foodbank.org.uk

Meanwhile, as we reported last week, the number of foodbank users in Flintshire continues to rise month-by-month.

Andy Leake, founder member of the Trussell Trust, the Christian community organisation which kickstarted the Flintshire Foodbank, said about 550 people per month were now being fed by the service.

The increase in users represents the unfortunate materialisation of a prediction by Mr Leake, who told the Leader back in March that he expected the foodbank service to be “even busier in 2017”.

Mr Leake says numbers had continued to rise, despite already witnessing a 10 per cent increase on 2016 at the start of the year.

He paid tribute to the generosity of the wider Flintshire community in donating to the foodbank, saying it was an “awesome thing to be involved in” but cited a national issue as a possible reason for the ever growing number of users.

Email:

rory.sheehan@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Leader

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