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More are using food bank help

By Carmarthen Journal  |  Posted: September 11, 2013

FIGURES reveal that more people are using Carmarthen's food bank with more than 2.500 kilograms of food handed out to 355 people in the past five months.

Bosses at the centre in Johnstown said 43 per cent of people using the bank were those who had seen changes to their council benefits over recent months.

The welfare reform which includes the bedroom tax has hit people since being introduced in April.

In some cases, the slashing or loss of benefits are causing families to struggle to make ends meet in the current economic climate.

The revelation by the food bank comes as the Welsh Government has given evidence to a UK wide commission setting out its approach to tackling child poverty and raising the educational performance of children from the poorest households. Food bank manager Share Bower said: "Since April, we have given out 2,589 kilograms of food to 355 people since April.

"Before we moved to the Xcel Bowl site in Johnstown, in the same period last year when we were at Hall Street in Carmarthen we saw 267 people coming to us.

"So there is more need for the food bank than when we started two-and-a-half years ago.

"The change to benefits and the bedroom tax is certainly the biggest reason for people coming to us.

"People who would probably never have thought they would fall into the category of needing a food bank hand out.

"With less benefits or none at all, people are struggling to put food on the table."

She added: "Breaking it down, we have the majority of people now coming as a result of benefit changes, 15 per cent of our hand outs are for those on low income.

"The next 10 per cent are those in debt and nine per cent are people escaping domestic violence and four per cent are from homeless."

However, the summer months have seen families turning to the food bank while the children were on holidays.

Mrs Bowen said: "It shows that just a small change at home like having the children home all day at holiday time can put pressure on costs, we have definitely seen more families coming for the last couple of months with children not at school."

The Welsh Government ahead of giving evidence into child poverty warned recent years of economic stagnation across Wales are combining with the cuts to welfare which will push people further into poverty.

Proving services such as food banks in Carmarthen are becoming a vital part of more people's everyday lives.

Seek out bedroom tax advice — page 12

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