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Foodbank experience handy as new pop-up service launches

A decade after setting up her first foodbank, Ann Griffiths is still serving vulnerable people.

SPFb

Only this time it's in and around a Swansea community that became her home around 18 months ago.

And, with so many more people now needing foodbank services due to the coronavirus crisis, her expertise is proving to be invaluable.

With the help of husband Dudley and the energy and dedication of a team of other volunteers, Ann runs the House of Prayer (HOP) Foodbank from Sketty Park Community Centre.

In the current crisis they are providing for between 50 and 60 individuals each week, helping families from around the Swansea area.

Retired teacher Ann said: "As Christians, we wanted to reach out to the local community in a practical way when we moved to Sketty Park.

"We felt that a foodbank was a way of doing that and so started off in a small way in March last year, using the local community centre.

"I started a foodbank around 10 years ago in Bridgend when we lived there. The Sketty Park service brings together the experience we had there, and inspiration we got last year when visiting an independent foodbank in Pontardawe.

"We've been running just over a year in Sketty Park and in the past four months we've seen a marked increase in referrals. The pandemic has been a major factor.

"The community has been wonderfully supportive. Local churches are involved and local businesses and schools are supporting us, as well as many individuals in the community.

"Since March this year whole streets have been collecting donations, and we have the encouragement and support of local councillors and the council's local area co-ordinator.

"Our team of dedicated volunteers has grown to around 10.

"Since March we've become much busier, and so pre-pack parcels on a Tuesday to give out on the Wednesday. We're now considering opening for another day."

The HOP Foodbank is part of a network of community foodbanks across Swansea helping to support families in crisis. Referral to the Sketty Park-based service is mostly through agencies such social services, Job Centres and Citizens Advice Bureaux but they also help those who self refer.

Swansea Council has been supporting foodbanks with supplies to ensure they are able to cope with the increased demand, and has set up four food distribution sites in community centres across the city.

Alyson Pugh, a Swansea Council cabinet member for better communities, said: "HOP Foodbank is busier than ever and is working really well for the people of its local communities.

"I thank all those involved including the organisers, volunteers, donors and supporters. They're all here for Swansea."

The HOP Foodbank is based at Sketty Park Community Centre, Heather Crescent. It's open every Wednesday from 11am-1pm. Members of the public can drop off donations during opening hours and there is collection basket in CK's, Sketty Park.

More on the HOP Foodbank - www.facebook.com/hopfoodbank316, hopfoodbank@gmail.com, 07790972407

Swansea Council's response to coronavirus - www.swansea.gov.uk/coronavirusadvice

Picture: Ann Griffiths, founder of the Sketty Park-based House of Prayer (HOP) Foodbank, with husband Dudley.

 

 

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