Posted: Thu 29th Jun 2023

Donations pour in after foodbank run by Swansea church is burgled

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 29th, 2023

A food bank run by a church in Swansea which helps nearly 200 people has been broken into and all the food stolen. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Baby toys, an orange bike for teenagers and soft drinks for a tuck shop were also taken. All the items were being stored in the hall next to St Thomas Church, St Thomas, Swansea. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Vicar Steve Bunting said the culprit or culprits gained entry overnight to the hall on Saturday, June 3, via a fire exit. He estimated they were in the building for around 30 minutes, given the quantity of stock taken. Doors to side rooms had been opened. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Some of the food was packed in bags ready to be handed to families on Monday morning. A larger quantity wasn’t bagged. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Reverend Bunting said: “I think the likelihood is that it was someone who has previously used us, which makes it all the sadder. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“If someone had come in and said, ‘I’m absolutely desperate, I need £20,’ it would have been easier for us to give it to them.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The resale value of the stolen stock, he said, was negligible. “Someone has got to be desperate to think a food bank is the best thing to steal from,” he said. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“It deprived people a week’s worth of food. We had to turn people away, which is not a very nice feeling.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Reverend Bunting had been hesitant to report the burglary to South Wales Police because he said he wanted to help the person or people responsible rather than them facing prosecution. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said they were clearly “not in a good place” and that being arrested would be “another step in the wrong direction”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He added: “I would rather them come to us and say, ‘This was me, and this is why.’ We might be able to help. We are so much more than food here.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

But he has now reported the incident to police and said he would liaise with the close-knit area’s police community support officers and constables. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The food bank has been running for around seven years – from the church itself rather than the hall – and now supports 170 to 200 individuals. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Reverend Bunting said the number had risen after Christmas, and that sometimes people waited for two hours before it opened. He said usage dipped when government cost-of-living payments were made. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The church  also has a not-for-profit cafe, a community training kitchen, and offers advice for issues such as welfare payments and homelessness. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Reverend Bunting said he had been heartened by the response to the burglary. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Food donations have been pouring in, the nearby Swansea Dockers Sports and Social Club has contributed £250, while an envelope with money in it was posted through his door with a note saying it was for food. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“For every bad act there are 10, 20 good ones, often anonymous,” he said. “It is incredibly heart-warming. We’ve got to make sure we focus on that.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Last September the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate, visited St Thomas Church and spoke to volunteers and members of the congregation. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Princess Kate described the food bank as a “lifeline” for many people. “There is amazing work going on here. Keep up the hard work,” she said. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Pat Hughes, one of the women who runs the food bank, said: “It was lovely to chat with the Princess and it’s something we won’t forget.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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