Food bank to open in the Swansea Valley village of Ystalyfera
A CALL has gone out for volunteers to help run a new food bank in the Upper Swansea Valley.
The facility is set to be opened in Ystalyfera in an effort to help families struggling to put food on the table as the economic downturn continues to bite.
The move has been initiated by a group of public-spirited individuals calling themselves Catch (Cwmtawe Action To Combat Hardship) following a public meeting last week.
The venture should open next month in the village's former indoor Victorian market.
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Colin Webb, spokesman for Catch, said: "Catch was formed in response to the disturbing rise in the number of families facing increasing hardship in the Cwmtawe area.
"It was particularly disquieting to learn of the number of children living in poverty — 39 per cent of children in Ystalyfera and 36 per cent of children in Ystradgynlais live in out-of-work benefit claimant families — this is compared to the English and national Welsh average of 15.6 per cent.
"We don't really like to call ourselves a food bank, it's more basic needs. It's not just food — what, for example, if a child needs a new pair of shoes?"
The community has not been slow in backing the idea.
Mr Webb said: "At a meeting held in St David's Church Hall, a constitution was adopted, bringing Catch into existence as a duly-constituted association.
"Thanks to the generosity of Paul Brandon and Alan Tait, the owner and leaseholder of the former Victorian market premises, on Commercial Street, and to another anonymous donor, Catch will take up a six-month tenancy on three units from April 1.
"This means that Catch will have office and storage space from which to manage the project, which envisages providing to meet a wider range of need than food alone." In an appeal for the public to get behind the scheme, Mr Webb said: "Catch needs you to help us to help those struggling to make ends meet. We are looking for volunteers in a variety of roles, money gifts and eventually donations of items that act to combat hardship."
Both Ystalyfera and nearby Ystradgynlais have been designated Communities First areas.
Ystalyfera community councillor Rosalyn Davies said: "I hope that it proves successful and they get enough volunteers to make it work. There are pockets of depravation in every community and it will only get worse when the Government benefit reforms come in."