This blog post is the latest part of our Winter ‘Go Full Circle’ campaign, which is promoting the role of – and encouraging consumers to support - Welsh social enterprises, co-operatives and other community organisations in the run-up to Christmas.
PATCH (Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship) is a social enterprise which gives food parcels, clothing and small household items to people all over Pembrokeshire who are in a financial crisis. Co-ordinator Tracy Olin explains here why their work has special significance at Christmas…
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
It’s the time that we are caught in the hustle and bustle of buying presents and our Christmas food. We make sure we have every vegetable in existence to accompany the star of the show, the Christmas turkey. We also need Christmas pudding, mince pies and of course chocolates to eat whilst watching the afternoon film…..
But, there are many people here in Wales, who like in a Charles Dickens novel are struggling to just keep warm and maybe have a can of hot soup for the ‘big day’.
At PATCH, this is our sixth year of giving food parcels for Christmas and running a Christmas toy appeal. I’ve been involved with running food banks for 13 years, but it was only last year (I am a little slow) that I was really struck by the thought of people only having hot dogs or meatballs for Christmas dinner. I was devastated, but then I realised if it wasn’t for places like PATCH and the new explosion of food banks all over our Country, people would not even have that.
I met an amazing man this year who told me that on one Christmas Eve he was sat in his flat with a broken TV, a bed and a slice of cold pizza, and no money. He had “lost everything” - his business, his family, all he held dear. He visited a local church in desperation, only because they offered mince pies and mulled wine. His name is Kelvin Marsh and he’s now the Chief Executive of a national network of food banks, The FoodStore Network.
His Christmas Eve story is sadly not unique. At PATCH, like our parent charity, we give Christmas goodies along with the usual basic five day food parcel. We cannot give the turkey, but we will give a pack of fresh vegetables in the week running up to Christmas. We will also give some clients two week’s food to see them through, as we close for the holiday season.
Donations to the local food banks are essential all year round, but even more so at this time of year. I am happy to report that the people in Pembrokeshire meet all of the needs of our clients. My team of 60 volunteers (many needing food parcels themselves) are rushed off their feet at this time of year, as we always see our client numbers at least double the week before Christmas.
So, as well as buying food and goodies for your own nearest and dearest, why not buy a little extra and donate it to your local food bank, so that those in need can also enjoy a little Christmas cheer.