British Red Cross: Man who relied on food parcels has message for people struggling

  • Report by ITV Wales journalist Gwennan Campbell

A man who was forced to rely on food parcels after losing his business is encouraging others in need to reach out.

Mark Edwards says people cannot imagine what it is like to not have money until it happens to them, and he is now using his experience to try and help others.

He has been volunteering for the British Red Cross for more than a year. The charity has been a lifeline for people in crisis for over 150 years, and for Mark that crisis came two years ago when he lost his business.

"I was very fortunate to have a very good lifestyle and then all of a sudden, everything went", he said.

"I knew what it was like to be OK and financially secure and then to have nothing. So hence the Red Cross used to bring me food parcels.

"People don't really understand what it's like to have no money, they don't know what it's like to have no heating, they don't know what it's like to have a person knock on the door from the council and say you owe so much in council tax and you haven't got the money to pay them."

Jeff Jones has been working for the charity for four years supporting the community - but since the beginning of the pandemic his role has changed.

He said: "The role changed so we were doing a lot more hands on work so things like supporting people access food, medication, things that we'd not really done much of in the past.

Jeff's role changed during the pandemic

"There was a big issue, not so much with people who didn't have money but couldn't access food because there was no online deliveries, there was no family support because the family lived away.

"A lot of organisations stopped working how they normally would and we sort of plugged the gap in a lot of areas."

"We know the value of the role and how much support we provide people. We always worry if we weren't there, what people would do," he added.

Karen Cross is the North Wales operational manager and provides practical and emotional support to anyone who needs it.

Karen is the north Wales Operational Manager

"I try and work out with them why they're in this situation to begin with and then work out with them what support they need," she said.

"It's nice work, it's rewarding work. Most of us really care about people and that's why we do what we do.

"I think it's a very special organisation because we help anybody. So, it doesn't matter who you are, where you've come from, why you're in the situation you're in, we don't judge people. If that person needs help, we will help them."

The British Red Cross helped Mark in his time of need and now he's urging others to reach out too.

"A lot of people are too proud to ask for help and I think - forget pride, just ask - like I had to."