A HEAVILY pregnant young woman walks 12 miles to pick up a food parcel to feed herself and her family.
Meanwhile a young mum collects a parcel that at least for once means that she does not have to make a choice between feeding herself and her children.
This is not a story from a third world country but Ludlow as Christmas approaches in 2012.
Churches and voluntary groups are struggling to help people who can hardly even af ford to feed themselves.
By the end of the year Ludlow churches will have provided nearly 100 emergency food parcels.
“I was collecting food at a Ludlow supermarket and someone told me that there are no poor people in Ludlow – if only they knew,” said Revd Jon Edwards, Baptist minister in the town.
“The demand for food parcels is going up all the time. In 2009 we provided 53 food parcels, it was 73 in 2010 and 85 last year.
“So far in 2012 it is more than 90 and we are hardly in December when the need gets greater as the weather gets colder.
“In the case of the pregnant women who walked from a village in the Shropshire hills – she had been turned down for a crisis loan.
“Another case was someone whose relationship had broken down and they were due to have the children but had nothing in the house to feed them.
“We helped a woman who has to choose whether to feed herself or her children.
“There are people who have to decide whether to turn the heating on or feed themselves.”
Rev Edwards says that most of the people are referred from agencies such as housing associations, health visitors or the Citizens Advice Bureau and are desperate.
“It is people of all ages being provided with food parcels,” added Jon Edwards “Roughly a quarter are aged under 25, 40 per cent are between 26 and 45 while the remainder are older people. I just think that it is wrong that people should have to do this.
“The impression of Ludlow as a prosperous country town is very misleading.
There are a significant number of people in real hardship.”
Meanwhile the South Shropshire Furniture Scheme is coping with rocketing demand for emergency help.
“We are seeing the demand for emergency packages of essential furniture double and it is going to be difficult to cope if this continues,”
said Jean Jarvis of the scheme.
The town’s Citizens Advice Bureau, open in Ludlow on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, also runs an outreach every Thursday at the Rockspring Centre, and is coping with a growing workload.
The CAB is concerned about the impact of changes to the benefits system and the introduction of a Universal Credit.
More than 200 people attended a public meeting at the town Methodist Church to discuss action that can help tackle the poverty crisis.
If you have food to donate – non-perisable items please – can take it to any Church or to the Wesley Cafe.