THE need for a foodbank in Monmouth is still needed after 10 years after it was set up, despite the area being perceived as being affluent.

The foodbank was set up by the Churches Together in Monmouth group and with the help of the Trussell Trust, an army of volunteers and collection points in local supermarkets, including Waitrose, Lidl, OneStop, Co-op allowing customers to generously donate on a weekly basis.

The foodbank operates from the Baptist Church in Monk Street every Friday between 10am and noon.

Mike Brain, trustee of the Monmouth and District Foodbank and its former manager said: “The reason most users of the local foodbank is due to insufficient benefits and debt issues.

“Those who’ve been referred to us, are able to take advantage of what we provide and because of where we are located, we can direct people to other organisations who can assist people with individual issues.

“We may be one of the smallest foodbank operations in the country, but because of the small pockets of deprivation in Monmouth, it’s obvious we are still needed.”

Louise Siegle, Trussell Trust’s area manager, said: “While Monmouth is perceived to be an affluent town, there are pockets of deprivation within it, demonstrating a need for foodbank provision.

“All foodbanks are in existence across the county because the level of welfare benefits people can obtain to live on creates a shortfall in the region of £35 a week.

“This is why the trust has set up a Guarantee Our Essentials campaign urging the Government to restore benefits to a level that people can live on and in turn put us in a position that we are no longer needed. We want to do ourselves out of a job.”

At the beginning of this year Clare Robinson, was appointed as the manager of the Monmouth Foodbank and with Fiona Trepte, the administrator manager, are running the operation efficiently, discretely and sympathetically.

Ms Robinson said: “Everything we do here is very discrete and there is no stigma attached in attending.

“We’ve helped those who have just started employment to those who’ve found themselves in debt, or suffering from health issues, while others are struggling because they have been sanctioned by social security.

“We are now appealing to those in need, who are not necessarily on benefit, but are on low incomes. It’s become obvious people in Monmouth are reluctant to ask for help.

“These are just some of the issues why people had to turn to a foodbank for help. As well as distributing food, we also offer a wide range of advice, help and support to those who need it.”

The foodbank was the brainchild of Ian Roberts from the Wyesham Christian Fellowship who established that there was a need to set up a foodbank in Monmouth.

And with the help of the Baptist Church’s Jonathan Greaves, the Monmouth and District Foodbank was formed in 2014 after recruiting a number of representatives who were willing to oversee the foodbank as trustees.

The fledgling operation also took advantage of partnering with the Trussell Trust, a Christian charity which operates the computer software specially designed for foodbanks using a voucher system.

The foodbank works with various local agencies including Community Hub, Pobl housing group, Gwent Drug and Alcohol Service, Flying Start, the CAB and Monmouthshire Housing Association, who can refer their clients directly to the foodbank.

Monmouth Foodbank have given out 7,027 parcels, peaking last year 1,003 due to the arrival of Ukrainian guests. Approximately one third of those who have been helped over the past 10 years had children.