Cash-strapped families are ‘eating pet food’ to survive cost of living crisis, charity claims

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People are having to eat pet food while others try to heat food on a radiator, a community worker with 20 years' experience has said., , Mark Seed now runs a community food project in Trowbridge, east Cardiff., , BBC Wales analysis of new Census data suggests six of Wales' most deprived communities are in the city., , A charity warns that struggling households do not just appear in areas long associated with poverty and policy needs to focus on people not places., , Trowbridge lies in what Mr Seed calls an "arc of poverty" from east to west of the Welsh capital, with issues endemic in his area., , "I'm still shocked by the fact that we have people who are eating pet food," he said., , "[There are] people who are trying to heat their food on a radiator or a candle., , "These are shocking kind of stories that are actually the truth.", , "Cardiff is a flourishing city however there are pockets of deprivation which are simply not acceptable."

SUFFERING families are “eating pet food” to survive the cost-of-living crisis, a charity claims.

Mark Seed, who heads a community food project in Trowbridge, Cardiff, says poverty has hit areas so hard that people are having to go to the lowest levels just feed their families.

People are having to eat pet food according to community worker Mark Seed

Mark, a community food project head, says he is shocked at what people are having to do because of the cost-of-living

Mark claims that people constantly feeling the burden of soaring inflation have even turned to heating up food on their radiator.

The community worker told the BBC: “I’m still shocked by the fact that we have people who are eating pet food.

“[There are] people who are trying to heat their food on a radiator or a candle.

“These are shocking kind of stories that are actually the truth.’

“Cardiff is a flourishing city however there are pockets of deprivation which are simply not acceptable.”

The Pantry, where Mark works, is a Community Trust-funded facility that aims to reduce food poverty in Cardiff and provide affordable food and household essentials to over 160 locals. 

One of The Pantry’s visitors is Elizabeth Williams, 54, who said the project “makes a lot of difference” and brings communities together during difficult times.

She added: “I usually go without to try to make things better in my house.”

Mark also claims that people were not being paid enough to afford the essentials, with the cost of living crisis pushing prices way up “so that everybody is squeezed or they just can’t afford it”.

Last month the cost of food rose again – with shop prices of groceries over 12% higher than last November.

Mark added: “What they are telling us is that they are working every hour they can.”

And he has called for people in struggling households to be given adequate support, even when they do not appear in areas associated with poverty. 

The latest Census results suggest that as a whole, Wales has seen an improvement in deprivation in the last 10 years.

However, more than half of households (54.1%) still fall into one of the categories used to measure it, either through being out of a job or long term sick, having poor health or a disability, low level of education or living in an overcrowded or poorly heated home.

And the new data suggests six of Wales’ most deprived communities are in Cardiff.

The list is topped by Mark’s community – Trowbridge and a part of Rumney in the north of the city – with 29 households there classed as deprived in all four categories.

This puts it within the worst 1% of more than 7,000 similar-sized communities across England and Wales.

Trowbridge lies in what Mark calls an “arc of poverty” from east to west of Cardiff.

Mark added: “People who are in those positions of poverty would be the first to tell you that it’s not easy to have a voice, it’s not easy to have your dignity and show yourself as someone who counts and unless you do that no-one is going to listen.

“Buildings go up, the economy flourishes and firms move here – but there’s a gap and we’re trying to close it.”

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