Arfon AM Siân Gwenllian, Hywel Williams MP and Plaid Cymru Arfon staff have launched their Reverse Advent Calendar campaign again this year after last year’s success where 200kg of food was collected for Caernarfon and Bangor food banks.
Siân Gwenllian and Hywel Williams are encouraging others to join in by making their own donation boxes or by bringing their items to the Plaid Cymru office in Caernarfon.
The Reverse Advent Calendar turns the traditional advent calendar on its head and encourages to give every day instead of receiving. Plaid Cymru Arfon staff will be placing an item in a basket every day until Thursday, December 20th when the donations will be shared between the Caernarfon and Bangor foodbanks.
“Winter and Christmas time can be very difficult for low income families” said Siân Gwenllian, “as they are often faced with the stark choice between food and heating, as well as wanting to buy Christmas gifts for children and family. Christmas puts a huge strain on many people as the expectations are so high, and for many people in this area and throughout Wales keeping warm and avoiding hunger is enough of a challenge in itself. There is a spike in food bank usage every winter and stock can run low pretty quickly.
According to figures obtained from The Trussell Trust, between 1st April and 30th September in Arfon, 1008 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis, with 460 going to children.
Across the UK, foodbanks in The Trussell Trust network distributed 658,048 three day emergency food supplies to help people in crisis, an increase of 13% for the same period last year. Of these, 232,761 went to children. This is a measure of volume rather than unique users, and on average people needed 1.7 foodbank referrals in a six month period.
Wales has seen a 13% increase in the number of food supplies distributed compared to the same period last year.
“The figures for Arfon and indeed Wales and the rest of the UK are frightening and with an average waiting time of five weeks for people’s first Universal Credit payment, things are set to get worse.” said Hywel Williams. “This is the second year we’ve done the Reverse Advent Calendar in the Plaid Arfon office – it’s a simple and easy challenge that can be done at home or in the work place. All you have to do is place an item of food in a basket every day until just before Christmas, and then donate it to your local food bank. Alternatively, you can bring donations or baskets and boxes to the Plaid office at 8 Stryd y Castell, Caernarfon before the 20th of December, and we’ll donate them for you.