#GoodNewsCymru | Social enterprise

Carmarthen Foodbank continues to aid those in need

While the usual structure of the Xcel Project is on hold due to social distancing, their foodbank is busier than ever. Carmarthen Foodbank access and divert food to vulnerable people across the county, and the past few months have been like no other.

By Mike Erskine · May 7, 2020

See this page in: Cymraeg

Carmarthen Foodbank continues to aid those in need

While many part of the Xcel Project’s, managed by Towy Community Church, are on hold, due to social distancing and staff being furloughed, their foodbank is busier than ever. Carmarthen Foodbank access and divert food to vulnerable people across the county, and the past few months have been like no other.

Miriam Jones, acting foodbank manager explained that the problems of the people who come to them are typically resolved in a week or two so they won’t need the foodbank for longer, but at the moment that’s not the case.

“There are people waiting for up to five weeks for universal credit and do not have anything in the meantime. There are others loosing 20% of their wages and that can be tipping point between covering costs every month and really struggling.”

“54% increase in demand”

Between March and May last year, Carmarthen Foodbank distributed 210 parcels which fed 460 people, 175 of those were children. Between March and May this year, the foodbank gave out 323 parcels, fed 737 people, 267 of those were children. That’s a 54% increase in demand for food parcels.

“The foodbank is normally open Monday, Tuesday and Friday,” said Miriam. “We are now open Monday to Friday to allow the team to spread out the load. We chat to people on the phone before they arrive to find out about any dietary needs, what cooking facilities they have as well as if they have any pets or toiletry requirements. Each person has a timeslot where they arrive, collect their parcel and have a chat with a member of the team so they still have face-to-face contact with us.”

“Going the extra mile”

As much as the focus is on food in the foodbank, the work of Towy Commnity Church and our Xcel Project doesn’t stop there. They recognised that there were probably many families at home with children, running out of resources. The foodbank reached out to the church for people to donate games, colouring books, pencils and craft supplies and put bags together to give to families coming in with children who need entertaining.

The Xcel Furniture project is also running for emergencies. A gentleman who was transitioning from a mental health ward back into the community, was moving into an unfurnished property. He was able to pick up some furniture to make his new house a home. The Salvation Army were supporting a lady in her 90s whose fridge had broken, one of the volunteers who works at the furniture bank was able to find one for her.

“Support from community”

The work undertaken by the foodbank has not gone unrecognised by the wider community. A local petrol station ordered items to donate to the foodbank and the donation page has skyrocketed. Their relationships with the 100 agencies they work with and council housing officers has strengthened as they are all working so closely together.

While the Foodbank can only have 4 volunteers there at one time, the list of people who want to lend a hand grows every week. People are keen to ensure the foodbank is not short on bodies.

“We are overwhelmed with how many people there are out there who are willing to be involved to keep the community going.”

Miriam, Manager, Carmarthen Foodbank

Xcel Project has received business consultancy support and advice from Social Business Wales, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre.

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