It might seem unbelievable in 21st Century Wales that anyone would be unable to afford to buy food for themselves or their family. But it does happen. These days a third of families do not have any savings and rely entirely on the money coming in week by week. So if something happens to stop that income then a crisis can quickly result. All it takes is a sudden unexpected event such as a bereavement, illness, redundancy, relationship breakdown, benefit delay or theft. And it can happen to all sorts of people. In our communities there are those living on the edge of poverty, and they are particularly vulnerable. Other people are relatively prosperous yet can be tipped into crisis by these unexpected events. For those who experience these problems the results can be devastating, and unless the crisis is resolved quickly, health issues, strain on relationships and debt (and all that involves) may develop.
When a crisis happens Jubilee Storehouse immediately steps in with a supply of food and other necessities, enough for three days, while the underlying issues are tackled. And we offer a hand of friendship if that’s appropriate. Jubilee Storehouse is a ministry of St Anne’s church in Penparcau and was a response to our purpose of ‘serving the community’. Clearly there is a local need and nationally there are now dozens of well used food banks. This problem is undoubtedly rural as well as urban and, as government cuts and changes to the benefits system take hold, it is going to become much worse. The project operates through voucher holders who are professionals in agencies and organisations working with people in all sorts of difficulties.
Examples are Citizen’s Advice, West Wales Women’s Aid, Housing Associations, Social Services, and Ceredigion Care Society etc. These are people who have the experience to accurately assess people’s needs and that gives us confidence that the need for emergency food is genuine. Our expectation is that the referring agency will help the person resolve their immediate crisis and generally this should take only a few days. The role of a food bank is to provide help in a crisis. By far the greatest number of cases result from problems with benefits, and these problems are usually quickly resolved. We do not see Jubilee Storehouse as having a role where people are experiencing long term problems with their finances. However, we do point such people to those who can help and as a church we give support that is within our expertise and resources.
Jubilee Storehouse helps a wide range of people. Here are some examples: An elderly man discharged from hospital to a house with no food and not well enough to go out shopping. A teenager coming out of care and living in managed accommodation whose Job Seeker Allowance was stopped because she had hurt her knee and so was not capable of working. A woman forced to flee her home because of domestic violence. And an ex-soldier struggling with civilian life, without a job and caught by a government policy that dictates benefits are stopped whenever circumstances change and benefits need to be reassessed. We started Jubilee Storehouse at Easter 2011 and our first client was helped that Good Friday. Since then (as of mid January 2013) we have assisted 292 people, redeemed 185 vouchers and have 35 voucher holders. Food is donated by local churches and individuals living in the Aberystwyth area who have caught the vision of the project.
For further information contact St Anne’s Church by telephone at 01970 627121 or email