Like millions of others, the people of Carmarthenshire in the Welsh valleys are facing the biggest rise in the cost of living for a generation.
And it seems the voters here don’t think the upcoming local elections will necessarily solve that problem any time soon.
The rise in the cost of fuel and food is bringing back memories of more meagre days for Grainne Connolly and her seven-year-old daughter Matilda, who are feeling the pinch.
Boris Johnson labelled a ‘narcissist’ after bus pass boast on cost of living crisis – politics live
A few years ago, Grainne was just about making ends meet, claiming benefits and using food banks. But since then, she has secured a good job with regular income.
“The last two years have been the most stable in my entire life. Before that I had no money. So for me, it just feels like I’m going back to somewhere I’ve been before.”
That’s because Grainne is being made redundant in a couple of weeks and partner Joe, a drilling engineer, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and can no longer work.
The family have begun to use the local food pantry, where 10 items of groceries cost £3. It is the only way the family can afford to buy food at the moment.
The rise in the cost of living could be a big factor for voters in the upcoming local elections. But time will tell whether politics nearer the centres of power, like the handling of the pandemic or parties in Downing Street during the lockdowns, will sway how people vote locally.
“I don’t feel like the local councils are a big reflection of parliament at all,” says Grainne. “Councils are interested in local issues. I’m interested in local issues. I’m not sure what happens in Westminster or the Senedd [Welsh Parliament] trickles down.”
Also using the food pantry is a dad of five, David John. David has been coming here a lot recently to help him cook cheaper meals from scratch.
“I think at the moment with the energy costs, people are getting further and further into debt rather than coming out of it. There’s only so much you can cut before life starts to get a bit bleak.”
David doesn’t think too much about local politics at the moment. He sees the solution to people’s problems lying closer to home.
“I think it’s more about the community helping each other to ease the problems rather than the people at the top.”
The food pantry, named Yi Pantry, is funded by the local council, which has invested money into making sure it can offer support to those residents who need it.
Organiser Marissa Sweeney Aris says she is seeing first-hand how the rising cost of living affects people.
“It’s becoming a desperate situation. You’ve got young families, you’ve got elderly, you’ve got middle-age; they’re all concerned about what’s happening.”
Marissa says the pantry allows its members to do a weekly shop for their family while keeping the bill at a fixed, affordable price.
“People are already looking at how they can save money, how they can look at affording things, but on a smaller income.”
And the collective tightening of belts is having a knock-on effect elsewhere in the area.
Riffat and Tahir Ali own a restaurant in the town. The business was going well until the pandemic forced them to shut their doors. Things were just picking up, when the cost of living crisis struck.
Now their takings are down as many people seem to be opting to eat at home to save money. At the same time, their own costs are spiralling upwards. Riffat says they are taking it one week at a time.
“When it gets to the end of the week, I’m asking Tahir if we are going to be okay this week. And that question scares me because I don’t know what he’s going to say back.
“The amount we are paying to our suppliers right now is absolutely crazy. We need the government and councils to take some action to help get us through this.
“Councils could do something to reduce our business rates. Governments must do something to reduce fuel and food costs. Otherwise, this costs of living crisis could cost us our businesses.”
The Welsh government said it has invested more than £380 million to support struggling households since November, including a £200 payment to help pay bills over the winter.
But it might not be enough for many families as costs continue to rise.