The rise of foodbanks in the United Kingdom and dependency upon them in recent years has become synonymous with the government’s austerity programme and benefit cuts.

During last week’s Conservative Party conference, the chancellor George Osborne announced, that those currently on welfare support are set to see a two year freeze on payments. This in real terms is a cut and a further squeeze on household budgets.

It will come at no surprise if the numbers of foobank users will increase. What follows, is just one average day faced by volunteers in North Wales.

7:00 AM : Get up after a restless night worrying if today’s food collection at Tesco in Bangor and Caernarfon will go smoothly. Would the volunteers turn up? Would people donate anything?

8:15 AM : Frantic phone call from Caernarfon to say they have no leaflets in English. At our request, Tesco produced Welsh language leaflets but apparently there were none in English! I told them to use the supply of last year’s leaflets I had left them in case of emergency.

8:30 AM : Arrive at Tesco Bangor to set up for the food collection organised by the Trussell Trust at all major branches of Tesco’s. Staff were ready for us and we were quickly set up. To my horror, when I opened the boxes of leaflets to be handed to customers as they go in which show the items we would like them to buy and donate, we also appeared to have only Welsh language leaflets. On digging through the boxes we found about 10 per cent were in English so we were able to start the collection.

9:30 AM : I arrived at Caernarfon and discovered that none of the other promotional material had been located. Fortunately, an extensive search found everything we needed other than English leaflets! All our volunteers had shown up and we were doing well.

10.00 AM : A couple of kind elderly people had cleared their cupboards at home and donated two carrier bags of food, the oldest item was ‘Best Before December 2001’ and the most recent item had expired over a year ago. Sigh.

11.30 AM : I left Caernarfon Tesco to travel to the Foodbank’s distribution centre in Caernarfon which opens every Tuesday and Friday between noon and 2 PM. We describe ourselves as the world’s only Welsh speaking Foodbank as it is unusual to hear English spoken. As a learner, my language skills are stretched to the limit, particularly when clients speak in the local dialect of Cofi which I find impenetrable!

12.00 PM : So started one of our busiest days ever as we dealt with clients from all over North West Wales. Most had benefits delays or had been sanctioned by the JobCentre. Some were simply people who were victims of the Bedroom Tax but with no small properties available in the area suddenly had to find extra money for the tax.

There were some heartrending stories. One woman made sure her child was fed but could not afford to buy food herself because she had to travel by train and bus to Alder Hey hospital to visit her other child who had been ill for some time. We helped a woman who was living at a women’s refuge where she had fled following domestic abuse. Some of the stories were encouraging. We were able to give a food parcel to a man who had finally found work and had been rehoused with his wife and daughter and was making a new start.

2:30 PM : Picked up my wife and travelled to Bangor for the last two hours of the collection. We had run out of the English leaflets supplied and also of the ones from last year, but Tesco staff were magnificent and photocopied some of the precious English leaflets we managed to find.

We were overwhelmed by the generosity of the Welsh people some of who donated whole carrier bags full of food to us, rather than a single tin or jar of pasta sauce. Very occasionally, we encountered a belligerent person who felt that anyone on benefits was a scrounger and didn’t deserve to be fed. I just told them about a couple of our recipients that day, like the woman who was a victim of domestic abuse and we did see some people change their opinion.

4:00 PM : I joined my wife marking up the donated jars, tins and packets with their expiry date on the top in black permanent marker so we can easily make sure our stock is rotated efficiently from the store. The donations are sorted into large boxes which are then weighed and taken away to go into stock. Tesco kindly gives us 30 per cent top-up of the donations which can be used to buy items which we need.

5:00 PM : We finally finished collecting and handed over to Tesco staff for the next three hours. My wife and I took the opportunity to do some personal shopping and she kept sending me off to find things in the store and I continually returned, sheepishly having forgotten what I left for – I was so tired!

7:00 PM : Finally arrived home exhausted, exhilarated and in dire need of a gin and tonic. The only problem was that the second day of the collection was only 14 hours away. Still, that was tomorrow.

This story is typical. Worries regarding donations and whether there will be enough food to distribute are ongoing, it is a daily situation these volunteers agonise over in their work. It must be stressed that these are volunteers, that they in some cases work but are also retired. A foodbank volunteer is a full-time commitment. For anyone to rely on a foodbank is a national disgrace. It is the soup kitchen of the twenty-first century. For a government to freeze welfare, or indeed propose a real term cut, does not address the issue of why poverty exists. To cut those who are in need of help does not solve the problem, it creates a situation where the vulnerable receive no help and are played against those who are comfortable.

The solution is to unite. Organise. For peace and socialism.