A remarkable Rhyl woman who is helping keep over 20 people a week across the town off the breadline with her busy food bank has issued an appeal for lockdown donations of food.
Eunice Parry has been running the charity from the ASK Centre in Water Street for the past three years but lockdown has seen demand grow in one of the poorest areas in Wales.
It’s an operation she runs in close partnership with Citizens Advice Denbighshire (CAD) which has its Rhyl office in the same building, and which refers struggling families and individuals to the food bank.
Some of Eunice’s customers are in such hardship that they don’t even have a kettle to boil water for powdered soup: “Last week I had to be creative and think of 101 things you can put on bread for someone who wasn’t allowed a kettle by their landlord – it’s very humbling,” she said.
As well as CAD Eunice receives support from the local Morrisons supermarket, and she has just had a donation from Denbigh-based Lock Stock Self Storage which has one of its chain of storage parks in the town.
Lock Stock’s Lisa James said: “We were pleased to help out because Eunice is such a remarkable person and she deserves support for the amazing job she is doing.
“She has a brilliant partnership with CAD, and they work so well together to look after so many people who have fallen on hard times, especially since lockdown.”
The ASK Centre – the name comes from the biblical quotation ‘Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you,’ – is part of the United Church in Rhyl and Eunice is the manager there where she is helped by volunteers.
She said: “It was initially just a 24-hour food bank to provide people with enough food for a day but since lockdown we’ve been putting together bigger food parcels with enough for up to five days.
“Prior to lockdown the Centre provided a lot more services but since then we’ve had much more demand and although we’re doing the same amount of parcels, they’re much bigger now.
“We work very closely with Denbighshire Citizen’s Advice who are all working hard from home and a referral for a food parcel comes through them though we can direct people to them if they call here.
“We get a lot of help from Morrisons and Tracey Jaycock, their Community Champion, and regular donations of food or money from church members.
“We also have a fund for gas and electricity because people can be at the end of their tether when they’ve got food but no money to pay for the electricity or gas to cook it.
“We spend about £200 a week and we’re always grateful for more donations of money, food and especially toiletries.
“We provide bread and milk and staple, non-perishable food like tea and coffee, tins of beans, meat and vegetables, microwavable rice, noodles and food suitable for folk who only have a kettle and we also supply toiletries and sanitary products.
“I’ve even done deliveries and people are so grateful when I roll up in my little white car, people who can’t go out, maybe a mum at home with little children or an older person with mobility issues.”
Eunice does have a volunteer who comes in to help two mornings a week but she does most of the shopping and ordering and she added: “They’re used to me at the check-out now and I know where I can get the cheapest deals.
“If people are donating their money then I’ve got to make the most of it. It’s someone else’s money and I have to spend it wisely.”
CAD Rhyl Manager Sue Parry said: “We have an excellent partnership with ASK and during lockdown people would knock on their door and Eunice would put them in touch with us so we can help them with the underlying issues which have put them in need and make a food bank referral.
“I am working from home at the moment, but I pop into the office and have meetings and Eunice and I work very well together to help people who are not in the best of circumstances.
“They’ve often had a crisis and they need free help and information to help them resolve it and often it comes down to a choice for them to heat or eat and particularly if there are children or vulnerable people we will bend over backwards to give them support.”
For more information contact Citizens Advice Denbighshire on 01745 334568 or go to their website at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/local/denbighshire/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CADenbighshire/
For more information on the ASK Centre go to https://www.facebook.com/theASKcentre/ or call 01745 339646