Cwtch Mawr is an expansion of the Multibank initiative, co-founded by Gordon Brown and Amazon, which has now donated more than 2 million essential goods to help over 200,000 families

Led by Faith in Families, with support from Amazon, the Welsh Government, and Swansea Council, Cwtch Mawr will help families in need by providing surplus essentials donated by national and local businesses

Amazon helped establish the dedicated 6,000 sq ft donations hub in Swansea, with further support from Pobl Housing Association, Swansea Council, and The Moondance Foundation

 

A new charity initiative is launching in Wales today to donate more than 300,000 surplus essential goods to 40,000 families in poverty this year. Wales’s first Multibank is being led by Swansea charity Faith in Families with support from Amazon, former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Welsh Government, and Swansea Council.

Cwtch Mawr, which means ‘Big Hug’ in English, is Wales’s first Multibank – a community donations hub offering support for families experiencing poverty across Swansea. It provides surplus essentials, such as warm clothes, hygiene products, school uniforms, and bedding donated by businesses, like Amazon, directly to those in need. The products are redistributed via the lead charity partner, Faith in Families, to charity groups and care professionals who give them directly to people in need, when they need them.

Between 2020 and 2022, more than one in five people (21%) in Wales were living in relative income poverty, rising to more than one in four (28%) children. 81% of children living in relative income poverty lived in working households and children are consistently the age group most likely to be in relative income poverty in Wales[i].

Cwtch Mawr will process donations from a dedicated 6,000 sq. ft warehouse in Llansamlet, Swansea. Amazon helped set-up the warehouse operations, providing logistical expertise, tech support, and five team members from its nearby Swansea fulfilment centre will work on-site for the first full year of operation. A range of organisations have provided funding to pay for rent and utilities, and to support the recruitment, salaries and training of additional staff, including Swansea Council, Pobl Housing Association, and The Moondance Foundation.

 

Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, said: “The cost-of-living crisis has for too many families become a real, day-in-day-out struggle to make ends meet because the money simply runs out before the end of each month. We have designed the Multibank initiative to accept returned, surplus or overruns of goods from UK companies and via local charity partners, like Faith in Families, we can get items like nappies, school uniforms, dusters, and duvets, straight into the hands of social workers, teachers, and health practitioners for social prescribing. The business partners who have joined our Coalition of Compassion are directly able to alleviate immediate need for warm clothes, hygiene products and essential household items to support those who need them at the time they actually need the help.”

 

John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager, Amazon, said: “We are delighted to bring together this coalition of partners to launch Cwtch Mawr, Wales’s first Multibank. Our two existing Multibanks are having a huge impact across Scotland and Greater Manchester, helping families in poverty while contributing to a more circular economy by putting surplus products to good use. I’m very grateful to the many colleagues from across Amazon who have brought their logistics expertise, passion for innovation, and dedication to helping our local communities, to this project, and who will enable us to support tens of thousands of families across South Wales this year, and beyond.”

 

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The Multibank is a fantastic model, with businesses based locally donating goods which can then be provided free to people who need them, helping to keep money in their pockets. Cwtch Mawr will help people who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis to access essential goods and support easily in one place. This is an excellent example of partnership working, with the public, private and voluntary sectors coming together. I’m proud Welsh Government is supporting this project and hope to see it expand over the next five years.”

 

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: “I am very proud that Swansea Council is a founding partner in Cwtch Mawr and I’d like to thank all those involved in working to open this Multibank in our city to support the many families and individuals who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. This will make a very real difference to many thousands of people in the months and years to come and means there will be support with essentials when they need it most.”

 

Cherrie Bija, CEO of Faith in Families, said: “When people come together to support each other we all will have a better life. Cwtch Mawr is a collaboration of different sectors wanting to bring hope and support to those who face some of the most challenging situations in life, right here in our communities. This big Welsh Hug can be transformational for Swansea and South Wales. From gifting children with brand-new football boots so that they can take part in their school team, to maternity packs for new Mums so they can have dignity going into hospital, these things really matter.  People are barely surviving right now, children are normalising discomfort and hunger, individuals are facing hopeless situations. Cwtch Mawr will make a difference in people’s lives and for the planet, a real anti-poverty, anti-pollution, engagement solution.”

 

The project has already supported more than 7,000 families in Swansea with the donation of more than 40,000 goods since donations started to arrive in late 2023. Community support organisations, schools and colleges, homeless shelters, and elderly support services in the area have taken delivery of essential supplies from Cwtch Mawr, including Swansea Council’s social services, Llamau, Swansea Asylum Seekers Support, and Swansea Young Families.

 

Cwtch Mawr is the third Multibank established in the UK, an initiative co-founded by Gordon Brown and Amazon. The first Multibank launched in Fife, Scotland in 2022 and was followed by a second site in Wigan, Greater Manchester in 2023. The initiative has now donated more than 2 million surplus essential items to over 200,000 families in need. By the end of 2024, the project aims to support more than half a million families from a total of six Multibank sites across the UK.

The Multibank initiative is part of the Amazon’s broader commitment to support the communities in which it operates. Since 2010, Amazon has invested £1.8 billion in Wales and created more than 2,000 jobs across the country. Amazon’s Swansea fulfilment centre recently celebrated its 16-year anniversary and in 2022, Amazon opened a global development centre in Swansea, following its acquisition of Veeqo, a Swansea-founded technology company.

Amazon partners with Comic Relief to help people tackle poverty and is the official home of the charity’s iconic Red Nose. Last year, together with its employees, customers, and partners, Amazon raised over £2.7 million to fund projects that support people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and tackle issues such as homelessness, mental health problems, and food insecurity across the UK, and around the world. Amazon granted more £25,000 to charities and schools across Wales last year, including Feed the Hungry Neath, Matthew’s House, and FareShare Cymru.

 

[i] Source: https://www.gov.wales/relative-income-poverty-april-2021-march-2022-html