NEW figures show that hundreds of people are living in poverty in Denbighshire with the demand on foodbanks increasing by the week.
Around 80 people now visit Denbigh Foodbank requesting food each week - four times more than were using the amenity before Christmas.
Since the foodbank opened last October it has issued 221 vouchers and given away 5,393 kg of groceries.
This has fed 540 people; 309 adults and 231 children.
“Benefit claimants get £71 a week which is not enough, people are struggling to pay bills,” said Winnie Lawson, a benefit specialist for Denbighshire’s Citizen Advice Bureau and vice-chairwoman of Denbigh Foodbank.
“For a long time people talked about benefit scroungers, but now a lot of people are losing their jobs and finding themselves in the same position.
“People are scared, they are trying to save their benefits because they know they are facing more cuts such as bedroom tax.
“These cuts will only create a bigger demand for foodbanks,” she added.
Ms Lawson also explained how criteria changes for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), benefits for people unable to work because of a health condition or disability, has lead to more people depending on Denbigh Foodbank.
“We’ve been inundated with ESA appeals, I had a client waiting for an appeal going without food so she could feed her children,” said Ms Lawson.
“Despite the fact we’ve had a lot of severely disabled and ill people through our doors, very few people are meeting the new criteria.
“We are trying to give practical help by referring people to the foodbank,” she added.
Foodbanks are designed to give immediate help to people in crisis, by giving them donated food supplies.
A crisis would normally be where a family’s benefits has stopped, if they have been made redundant or there has been a natural disaster.
“We saw a lot of people need financial help and food after Christmas because the Department of Work and Pensions made a mess of people’s benefits over that
period,” said Ms Lawson.
“Payments were sent out strangely and quite a lot of people were struggling over Christmas.”
Wayne Roberts, chairman of the trustees for Denbigh Foodbank has recently held meetings to launch a foodbank in Ruthin.
“The demand in Denbigh is overwhelming,” said Mr Roberts.
“It began very slowly in Denbigh, five to seven vouchers per week for the first month or so and then afterwards it just took off, and seems to be increasing.
“My view is that this is just a warm up before the changes in benefits and room tax implications, it’s hard to fore cast where this will ever end really.
“The demand for Ruthin is also proving a need, and after a very enthusiastic meeting in Ruthin, it was unanimously agreed to open a distribution centre in Ruthin
and this will become a reality,” he added.
Denbigh Foodbank is open to clients every Monday and Friday from 10.30am to