Llanelli food bank demand soars as families hit by benefit crisis
A LLANELLI food bank has handed out nearly 300kg of food this year — with four times as many donations made last month as the previous four combined.
And Antioch Centre manager Deb Chapman fears the situation will only get worse as Government changes to benefits push families into crisis.
Some 105kg of food was donated to vulnerable people during the three-month period of December to March — but by April that figure jumped to 52kg for a single month. But May saw demand for 139kg of tinned and dried food as many families struggled to cope with changes to their benefits.
Mrs Chapman, who is applying for £150,000 in grant funding to secure the future of the project, said: "We are seeing an increase in people needing donations as a result of the benefit changes, and I think this will only get worse, which is why we want to make sure we are sustainable.
"The figures are only going to increase. The Government is changing policies, Communities First is changing and I think there will need to be a lot more partnership working over the next few years. We are positioning ourselves to be able to support and help people. They are changing payments so where they used to be weekly or fortnightly they will now be monthly, which will cause difficulties for a lot of people.
"For someone used to managing money short-term, or who would maybe blow all their money supporting substance abuse, a month is a long time between payments."
As well as handing out food to people in need, the Lifeshare project offers clothing and even furniture to individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet. Working in partnership with other organisations,
Mrs Chapman hopes to reach out to people whose needs might be overlooked. "We have vouchers that can be handed out to people in need," she said.
"Often there are people who go unnoticed, for example if they're not under the care of social services, so we are looking for an organic network of people who can look out for others and let them know that if they need food, clothing or furniture we are here to help."
Anyone who has used the centre can email firstname.lastname@example.org with letters of support for the funding bid.