Councillors back support for Wrexham Foodbank – with warning rural communities lack warm spaces and need support
Almost £145,000 is to be given to local organisations supporting people across Wrexham during the cost of living crisis.
The money, which includes £66,000 from the Welsh Government and £100,000 from the council’s Discretionary Cost of Living Support funding, will be split between five separate initiatives.
Last month a cross-party group of councillors was set up to help maximise support for Wrexham residents, to look at the challenges facing local communities and to find practical ways to help local people.
The group will meet every two weeks and to coordinate a short-term rapid response to the cost of living crisis.
On Tuesday (8 November) executive board members voted to back the recommendations from the Cross Party Member/Officer Working Group.
This includes £22,000 to expand the provision at Wrexham Foodbank, which has seen an increased demand due to the rising cost of living.
Care professionals such as health visitors, probation officers, social workers and advice centres identify people in crisis and issue them with a food bank voucher code.
This means they can receive a food bank parcel of three days’ nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food. They work with around 180 referral agencies in Wrexham.
Clients who attend the foodbank, or receive a home delivery if they have trouble accessing one, also receive help and advice about a range of support services that they may be able to access to help further.
£60,000 will also be given to Citizens Advice to extend services specifically to provide additional advice/support associated with the cost of living crisis. This would be subject to a three year Service Level Agreement at £20k per annum, to be reviewed annually.
Other funding being awarded includes:-
- £44,000 Warm Places initiative – The Council to establish a grant scheme for local organisations to bid for funding to deliver their ‘Warm Places’ offer, this may include provision of meals. Applications will be assessed and agreed or rejected by an WCBC Officer Group and reported to the Cross Party Member Officer Cost of living Crisis Working Group.
- £5,000 – To deliver a number of community based ‘Cost of Living Information and Advice Multi-Agency Events’; and provision of printed materials and information
- £10,000 – To be administered by housing to explore potential initiatives to enable citizens to have access to local community resources to aid their health and well-being with a focus on the most vulnerable.
The remaining £25,000 will be to respond to any further priorities and opportunities as they emerge.
Speaking at the executive board, Lead Member for Housing councillor David A Bithell said: “I think it’s true to say that obviously we are living in uncertain times and difficult times of this moment.
“I’d like to thank all groups for participating in the cross party working group because it’s been really fruitful. We’ve had two good meetings in the a short period of time.
“Also myself and the leader are meeting Welsh Ministers fortnightly so they can understand the difficult situation that we are facing as a council, and I think we are trying to do this as quickly as possible.”
In terms of the warm spaces that are being provided at libraries county wide, Leader of the Labour Group, councillor Dana Davies questioned what the Wi-Fi connectivity was like, stating that broadband is becoming “unaffordable” for many families.
An officer told the meeting that the council is “aware that are some issues and demands” in the local libraries, adding that there had been “significant issues with procurement” around getting equipment.
However it was recognised that there is a demand on internet services and that work is ongoing to address the issue – apparently over the coming weeks.
Councillor Trevor Bates, who represents the Ceiriog Valley, highlighted the need for support for residents living in rural areas.
He said: “It’s not good to see people walking the streets because moving around keeps them warmer than sitting in their own cold homes. But this problem is not confined to the town centre.
“The problem in some ways is worse for those living in rural areas, because there’s no warm shops for them to walk around, nor libraries as there are in built up areas.
“In rural areas, we are once again looking to the volunteers who run churches and village halls to step in and provide warm places. Then we look to the community councils to add their responsibilities to fund the local voluntary run buildings.
“Please can we quickly make grants available to the third sector to help them pay the heating costs of setting up warm spaces in community hubs.”
“Please spare a thought for those needing to use a warm space, they then need to return home alone to spend the night in their cold houses.”
Cllr Bithell noted that in some rural areas in Wrexham there are “limited facilities” for warm spaces to be created, but that there are grants available for churches and community run groups.
He said: “Whatever organisations you’ve got in the Ceiriog Valley, they will be entitled to apply for a grant of up to £1000.
“AVOW are kindly working with us to offer help and support for people who struggle perhaps to to fill in the application forms and they’re going to do that free.
“I do recognise the point that you’ve made, but I’m sure our officers can be in touch to assist the Ceiriog Valley to facilitate that for you.”
Executive board members voted unanimously in favour of providing the financial support to the listed organisations and initiatives.
A new page on the Wrexham Council website with helpful selection of links for support and information for residents on the cost of living was also widely praised, you can look at it here: https://www.wrexham.gov.uk/services/help-cost-living
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