Coronavirus: Foodbank pressure 'mounting daily'

Food banks
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People are keeping a safe distance while working at the food bank on Anglesey

Pressure in increasing on foodbanks because of coronavirus - with some forced to close and others opening.

One on Anglesey was set up to help people having to stay at home or those who have lost jobs.

But one in Pwllheli, Gwynedd, has shut temporarily because of safety guidelines and volunteers, who are over 70, having to stay indoors.

The Trussell Trust which operates a number of foodbanks in Wales said it "stands ready to help".

On Anglesey, a new distribution centre has opened at Llangefni.

"We've been working really hard over the last few days to make sure this works, and to take the pressure off the food banks in Holyhead and Amlwch," said coordinator Llio Rowlands.

"The pressure on food banks is mounting daily, it's a very insecure time for everyone."

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People have come together to help with the food bank from all over the community

The centre at Llangefni is a distribution depot which prepares hampers to go out to a network across Anglesey.

It has just five volunteers who work at least two metres apart with protective gloves and masks.

Organisers have called on local people to "donate as much as they can" on their GoFundMe page.

"It's been quite difficult to plan as it's such an uncertain time and we don't know how long this will last," added Ms Rowlands.

"But everyone has come together, so many volunteers have worked hard, so we've managed to get this facility ready in Llangefni."

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All types of food has been donated from a variety of sources

The local authority has been working with Anglesey Food Banks, Citizens Advice and rural help service Menter Mon.

"A lot of companies are coming to us saying they're willing to prepare and produce food to be distributed," says Dafydd Gruffydd, managing director of not-for-profit Menter Mon.

"At the moment there's a lot of work to be done gathering information - seeing which resources we have, and who's willing to do what.

"But there are gaps - for example, I have restaurants telling us that they're happy to donate food, but the challenge then is deciding how we get that food from the restaurants out to the people."

He said these were problems it was "trying to solve at the moment".

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A problem on Anglesey has been ensuring the food bank is able to accept everything that is pledged

While communities on Anglesey are pulling together, a foodbank in Pwllheli, Gwynedd, has had to close because it does not meet requirements.

According to Reverend Andrew Jones who helps to run a church provision, there were a number of reasons behind this.

"The shops are only selling three of some items now because of the new limits, so the process of buying goods has become very complicated," he said.

"The second reason, and again I wholeheartedly agree with this, the safety standards are getting higher and higher.

"There's concern that we couldn't keep up with those standards."

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In Pwllheli, some volunteers, who are over 70, have not been able to help

He also said many of the volunteers are over 70 and their families are eager for them to be careful.

"This is a temporary situation and we hope to reopen down the line," said Rev Jones.

"And because we have a lot of food left over, we've decided to appoint two church representatives to ensure that when there are requests to the council, that we can make sure that the food we have goes to a good place."

According to the Trussell Trust, which is responsible for a number of foodbanks in Wales, the priority is the safety of anyone who uses them.

'Safe, alternative'

It said it would continue operating and ready to support foodbanks in whatever difficult decision they made.

"If a foodbank feels it can continue to run, in line with the government guidance and with the support of their volunteers and local community, we will do everything we can to support the food bank," it said in a statement.

It said if one felt unable to open, the trust would look at how to get emergency food to people in need in a "safe, alternative way."