FOR the first time in its nine year history, a local charity which supplies food, small household items and clothing to people in need had bare shelves after a busy shift in its Haverfordwest base.
Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship (known as PATCH) found that the only food items left were pasta and tinned fish.
PATCH Manager Tracy Olin tells the Pembrokeshire Herald more about the charity: “Having worked at food banks for 17 years, never before have the client stories affected us so much. There are people here in Pembrokeshire who haven’t eaten for days (yes, days) as they wait for their benefits to arrive. One client lost their job and went straight on to Universal Credit, with a 6 to 8 week wait for any money.
“They did receive an advanced payment but used all of that to pay their rent. They messaged me with their story. Thankfully we were able to send the client to Citizens’ Advice (CAB) and they are now helping with the claim and gave a referral to PATCH. The client was so grateful – it was incredibly moving.
“We have had a family referred to us who haven’t had much of an income for weeks. They were told during a telephone conversation they would have to wait again for weeks before they receive their money. They client asked ‘What do we do until then?’ and was told to go to the local food bank.
“What if there wasn’t a local food bank? Or what if we were unable to give 2 weeks’ food to save them petrol in visiting us? Benefits should be the safety net, not food banks.
“PATCH gives 5-day food parcels consisting of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks. Because of the generosity of many local supermarkets we can give bakery produce, fruit, vegetables and even luxury items like flowers.
“We aren’t just about the food, which is why we call ourselves a ‘Basics Bank’. We give all of the basic items needed in life, such as clothing and small household items like bedding, crockery towels and small electrical items.
“We recently ran out of kettles, toasters and duvets, so local people went out and bought the whole of a local supermarket’s available stock of reduced kettles and toasters. One person bought a load of duvets and pillows and had them delivered to our main base in Milford Haven.
“Because we are independent we rely on donations and it is only the generosity of Pembrokeshire people that have kept us going for over 9 years. We are proud to be independent and proud to be local covering the whole of Pembrokeshire.”
The Pembokeshire Herald has recently banded together and donated a large quantity of food to the charity – but more is still needed.
If you would like to donate, please visit http://patchcharity.org.uk/donate/