AS PART of our month-long food bank appeal to help support people in need, we spoke to Newport Foodbank manager Jon Slocombe to find out more about how the organisation worked, and also heard from some of the people who used the service.

Residents and local businesses have so far shown generous support of the appeal.

"Please help people in a genuine crisis who need to put food on the table for their families," Mr Slocombe said. "These are genuine people in genuine need."

Mr Slocombe said a major challenge, when making appeals to the public, was to dispel some of the myths around food banks.

People can be reluctant to donate to what they incorrectly believe to be a soup kitchen-style service, where people turn up hungry and expect a free meal.

"This is run on a voucher system, and the vouchers are held by frontline professionals – like housing associations, social services, and council agencies," Mr Slocombe said.

"They know each particular person they refer to us. We feed people who are in crisis, we do not feed an ongoing problem."

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Recipients are given a maximum of three vouchers at a time, and each voucher provides enough food for 3-5 days.

This system means vouchers are only given out to people in times of urgent need, not on a perpetual hand-to-mouth basis.

"Once they've used their three vouchers, we hope and trust people are through their crisis, and if it was because of a pay dispute or an issue with Universal Credit, that those issues will have been resolved," Mr Slocombe said.

Carl, who has used the food bank two or three times, said he didn't want people to think he was scrounging.

"I try not to ask for [a voucher], and I think of others in worse situations," he said.

"It's rare that I ask, but times are hard at the moment and it's hard for people to come back up.

"Some people are in desperate need, and sometimes they can't get the help, even if they ask for it."

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Ian, who has also relied on the food bank recently, said the organisation helped "people who've had a kick in the teeth and want to make their lives better".

Describing his own situation, he said: "We come from all walks of life.

"My family was always poor, but I had my own business until last year.

"I didn't lose it out of choice – I had a breakdown."

Ian said he lived in his own house, but couldn't afford to keep up with the mortgage and, as a result, had been finding it difficult, financially, to feed himself properly.

"Even if I've got a tin of beans, I haven't got any bread or potatoes to go with it," he said.

At times, he added, he had found it difficult to obtain a food bank voucher from the frontline organisations supporting him.

"Sometimes the authorities can be a bit bureaucratic, and I've been made to feel humiliated," he said.

Since using the food bank, Ian has been helping out, too – something he said was good for his mental health.

And both men said the community spirit at the food bank had lifted their spirits.

"We try and help beyond providing food," Mr Slocombe said.

"Our idea is to help and support people who are in crisis, and further signpost them."

Items needed by Newport Foodbank include: Tinned fish, coffee, tinned fruit, milk, rice pudding, custard, tinned tomatoes and toiletries.

If you would like to donate any of the above, you can visit Newport Foodbank along Corn Street on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Items can also be taken to McCann’s Rock N Ale Bar and Baneswell Social Club everyday. Barnabas Arts House will be open every Tuesday to Friday and X-Clusive Jewellery will be open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm to receive donations.