CALDICOT foodbank staff have praised the support of the community following another busy festive period for the service.

The foodbank’s chairman, David Flint, said its annual Christmas appeal had received “amazing” support from generous members of the public, and schools in the area.

Seasonal foodstuffs such as Christmas puddings and mince pies were collected alongside personal items, including aftershaves and deodorant, and even advent calendars and gifts like board games and books.

“It’s been an amazing Christmas regarding the amount of food and other donations that we’ve received but we’ve definitely had to help a lot more people,” said Mr Flint.

“This year we’ve had numerous requests for help on behalf of the clients of district nurses, health visitors, as well as from schools for pupils’ families.”

The Raven House Trust foodbank first opened in 2013 and currently has 14 volunteers, who are mostly retired or semi-retired.

More than 300 people were fed by the service in December alone last year – a third of their annual number of clients.

Almost half of that number were children, with Mr Flint saying that two areas of Caldicot can be classed as areas of deprivation.

“One of the absolutely staggering things is how parents spend money on their children before getting food for themselves,” he said.

“I’ve been told that they’re worried that their children will get bullied after the holidays if they haven’t as many presents as their peers.

“These kids can be as young as five or six. I find it quite sad and it appears to a problem in wider society.”

Among those that have helped the foodbank over the festive period is Caldicot School, with its annual Christmas concert raising £547 for the cause.

The music department has adopted the foodbank as its chosen charity, with 2017 being the third year they have been fundraising for it.

Music teacher and choir director Sara Humber said: “It is so important to remember that Christmas is not an easy time for everyone in our local community.

“We know that our donation is well received and will benefit many local people—food hampers for Christmas, presents for young children and a Christmas lunch for the elderly.”

In 2018 the foodbank is expected to face fresh challenges with the introduction of Universal Credit to Monmouthshire on March 28.

The new system will see benefits paid as a lump sum to claimants on a monthly basis.

“When that rolls in we’re going to need all the help we can get,” added Mr Flint.

The work of the volunteers has been praised as “incredible” by Newport East MP Jessica Morden, who has had concerns about Universal Credit.

“I cannot thank them enough especially at this time of year,” she said.

“The donations people make are invaluable and a testament to the local community, at a time when record numbers are having to turn to them for help”.