Now even Mumbles needs a food bank
HARD-UP people in one of Swansea's most affluent areas have been given emergency packages from a local food bank.
Mumbles, where average house prices are not far off £250,000 and rental accommodation does not come cheap, has had a food bank based in the village since October last year.
Co-ordinator Kristina Williams said people from the area had been "incredibly generous" in donating items like pasta, tinned fruit, potatoes, cereal, beans, squash and rice.
But while the food bank is there to serve people from across the city, Mrs Williams said that some Mumbles residents had walked through the door with vouchers in return for an 8kg food package.
"There are some local people that are in need," said Mrs Williams.
"We also get some people from West Cross. And people come from town and (places like) Cwmbwrla."
She added: "What is overwhelming is people's generosity. To start with, more food was coming in than we were distributing.
"Some people came to us with a (car) boot full of food."
The food bank at Red Cafe in Mumbles Road is open on Mondays and complements an existing one in Gorseinon, which hands out food on Thursdays.
A third branch of umbrella organisation Swansea Foodbank is due to open in Clydach next month. Swansea Foodbank coordinator Tony Quinn said the service fed 2,300 people in the 12 months up to March 31 this year, compared to 863 people in the preceding 12 months. It records the numbers via food bank vouchers that charities, health and social services agencies give to people in need.
"Some people have not eaten for days," he said.
Some of the huge rise in demand was due to many agencies now being aware of Swansea Foodbank's existence, said Mr Quinn.
He reckoned around 60 per cent of customers were on benefits or had benefits-related issues, such as payment delays. The remainder were low income workers and specific cases such as women who had fled violent partners.
"It's not just people on low incomes who are feeling the pinch at the moment," he said. "Increased redundancy, reduced hours and fewer jobs are having a real impact."
Swansea Foodbank has some 30 volunteers and is an initiative of Christian-based organisation The Trussell Trust, which has 327 UK food banks open or in development.
Mr Quinn, of Gorseinon, said people's feedback was great. He said: "We get letters saying, 'We didn't know where to turn'. People are very grateful."
Asked if the service might report another doubling of customers this time next year, Mr Quinn replied: "My gut feeling is 'yes', although the hidden hungry have always been there."