Labour's parliamentary candidate for Monmouthshire, Catherine Fookes, joined volunteers in Gateway Church, Abergavenny to prepare food parcels for people struggling financially this Christmas. In the run-up to Christmas, Ms Fookes joined Pastor Christopher Vaz and volunteers at Gateway Church to help pack food hampers for their annual Operation Gateway Relief, which provided hampers for 1714 people this Christmas. Organised by the Community Pastor, Aaron Foley, and the whole team at the Church, volunteers packed various Christmas hampers made up of uncooked meal kits, gift hampers for those lonely at Christmas and toy bags for children. Gateway Church also provided hampers of fully cooked Christmas meals by their in-house chef. Speaking about her visit, Ms Fookes said, "I commend the work of volunteers and staff at Gateway Church who work tirelessly to provide so many services to the community all year round but particularly at Christmas. I am so pleased to have helped support such an important cause. I was completely blown away by the number of volunteers of all ages who helped out in the busy run-up to Christmas, and I want to wish them all a very happy Christmas." Operation Gateway Relief was born during the pandemic, during which 12,000 cooked meals were delivered to needy and vulnerable adults in Abergavenny and the surrounding area. The extensive database is made up of recipients for the food and gift hampers through referrals from schools and local agencies, and others included are vulnerable people known to the Church and the community. Additionally, every resident of every care home in Abergavenny received a gift bag, and the night staff at Nevill Hall Hospital working on the 24th received a Christmas dinner as a thank-you for the work they do. Pastor Christoper Vaz said, "As the cost-of-living crisis continues to loom, we can all do our bit to help those in need. We at Gateway have seen these numbers climb over the last couple of years, and through our hampers, we help alleviate some of the challenges people face during Christmas and throughout the year. " Ms Fookes added, "The work that the Church is doing for Abergavenny residents is incredible. However, the fact that our most vulnerable have to rely on community projects and food banks at Christmas is nothing short of a disgrace. The UK government's disastrous economic policies, which sent prices through the roof, have hit families in Monmouthshire hard, and thousands have been forced to rely on food parcels this Christmas."