Peter Hain MP has attacked the government for failing to address poverty in South Wales as he pledged his support for the fourth food bank to open in the Neath constituency in Glynneath.
“I am fully behind the community members in Glynneath who are examples of the stunning charity I know is typical of Neath residents. Nevertheless, it is a scandal that we are having to resort to food-banks in Neath,” he added.
“In 2010 I and my Labour colleagues on the County Borough Council warned everyone how austerity would affect our towns and villages, now we are seeing the devastation wrought.”
“People in Neath earn on average £50 less per week than throughout Great Britain, over £2500 less annually, without financial support from the government in the form of tax credits the lowest earners in the constituency are at constant risk of abject poverty.”
The food bank in Glynneath is the third to open in eighteen months in the constituency and is community based project similar to those in Neath, Ystalyfera and Pontardawe.
“It is yet another example of the increasing emphasis of communities having to self-fund activities because the State is refusing to support them,” said Mr Hain.
The former Welsh Secretary went on to say: “It is outrageous that people are having to choose between putting food on the table for their families and paying essential bills just because the Westminster Government has turned its back on hardship, withdrawing vital support whilst giving tax cuts to the rich.”
Neath MP and former Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain MP joined in with Foodbank at an event hosted by Tesco’s Neath Abbey to support foodbanks within the constituency.
The food banks act as a temporary measure for local people who are in desperate need of help, many of whom have been forced to choose between heating and eating.
However, since their rise, the support given to them by Neath residents has been remarkable.
Mr Hain said: “It is a fantastic tribute to the decency of local shoppers that they are so generous with contributions to the Tesco collection for Neath Foodbank.”
“It’s also good that Tesco top up the donations by another third because I know that hundreds of people rely each week on Neath foodbank to feed themselves.’
The new Pantry food bank was opened on Friday by former Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain MP and Assembly Deputy Minister for Social Services Gwenda Thomas today in Pontardawe.
This is the third food bank to open in the Neath constituency over the past three years along with the Catch food bank in Ystalyfera and the Trussell Trust food bank in Neath town centre.
It hopes to be able to serve the needs of those who live in Pontardawe, Alltwen, Trebanos, Rhos, Rhydyfro and Ynysmeudwy.
Speaking at the opening Mr Hain said, “it always makes me pleased to see a community coming together like this to try and help those less fortunate than them. I have really enjoyed this opportunity to meet the volunteers here in Pontardawe, they set a great example for us all in caring for others and their attitude is remarkable.
“It’s hardly a surprise to people in our constituency that times have been tough and many are struggling. But I take great pride in the way that we have united across our towns and villages to say we will support and carry one another.
“We can all accept that we would rather not see food banks in our society, but hiding from the truth does not make it go away, we’re going to fight for these people and do what we can to help them get back on their feet.”
Pantry is open Tuesday and Saturday mornings between 10am and 12 noon. They work in partnership with local organisations such as Social Services, Credit Unions, and Health Services. People are issued with vouchers from the Job Centre Plus as a temporary means of helping them during a small financial crisis.
Great night in Godre’rgraig Workingmen’s club on Friday to commemorate the start of the miners’ strike 30 years ago. Rousing performances from Cor Y Gyrlais and young soloists Emyr and Aled Myers, accompanied by Huw Parkman, with contributions from Terry Thomas and Tyrone O’Sullivan reminding everyone of the tremendous fight the miners’, their wives, families and the whole south Wales pit communities put up against Thatcher and her Government. Big thank you to Jacky Myers and Brian Hastie for organising the evening with proceeds going to CATCH Foodbank.
Neath MP Peter Hain has called on the Department for Energy Food and Rural Affairs to release details of report into food poverty, and the growth of foodbanks. The review has been with the Department since June 2013 but has remained under wraps.
There are currently two foodbanks operating in the Neath Constituency. Neath, Orchard Place and CATCH, Ystalyfera. A third, PANTRY, is due to open in Pontardawe this year.
Mr Hain said ‘Astonishingly high numbers of people are struggling below the poverty line and are turning to foodbanks as a result. Even more alarmingly the majority of these people are in work.
‘When growing numbers of people in work are relying on foodbanks to put food on the table, it is incredible that the Government is sitting on a review that looks into the causes. It begs the question, what conclusions can be drawn from the report? Is it, a result of the Governments welfare changes or are they not doing enough to tackle in work poor?’
In the first half a year CATCH has been open it has provided support packs for 168 adults, 37 children under 12 and 9 children over 12. In the last 2 years the Trussel Trust Neath foodbank has provided emergency food aid to over 4400 individuals, including over 1200 children.
‘Although this support of the most vulnerable, either through volunteering or by donations shows the caring, considerate nature our villages, towns and communities, the fact is that it should not be necessary. It is completely unacceptable that even people who are in work are living below the poverty line.’
In Wales alone, Trussel Trust Foodbanks helped 54,246 individuals between April 2013 to Dec 2013, and expect to feed in excess of 70,000 individuals across Wales in the current financial year. These figures do not account for emergency assistance provided to individuals by Non-Trussel Trust Foodbanks such as CATCH and PANTRY.