Big hearted volunteers have been working around the clock this year to feed those in need across North Wales.
Incredibly, some have delivered nearly 30,000 meals to people and families in our region who have fallen on hard times during the coronavirus crisis.
One organisation responsible for close to 20,000 of those meals is the team at Porthi Pawb who have prepared and delivered hot meals to children, the elderly and the vulnerable in Caernarfon and the surrounding area since the early days of the crisis.
Chef Chris Summers is one of those behind the initiative.
After finding himself out of work during lockdown, Chris, who watched in awe as his wife worked tirelessly to care for others on the NHS frontline, wanted to use his time helping out his local community.
In April, he and a team of volunteers set up Porthi Pawb and it has since gone from strength to strength.
The group have recently established Porthi Plantos, an initiative dedicated to feeding local vulnerable children over school holidays.
“Even though the amount of people we feed is decreasing, the organisation is actually still expanding,” he said.
“We’ve cemented ourselves within the community now so Porthi Pawb is here to stay.
“The reception has been absolutely amazing – we cater to anybody in need.
“Anyone who is down on their luck, who has recently lost work, or whatever, we’re open to help them.
“There’s no criteria any more – if there’s a mouth to feed then we’re more than happy to help.
“We try to make it a bit fun for the children as well and sometimes, we add the odd gift when we can – a bit like a McDonald’s happy meal.”
Another community hero helping those in need during the pandemic is Wrexham cafe owner Peter Humphreys, who runs the No.22 cafe at the town’s Ty Pawb arts hub.
So far, he has given out more than 7,000 meals to those in need across the town.
With a scheme already in place allowing those in need to get a free meal or coffee, Peter decided during lockdown to enlist volunteers to make meals with donated food for people identified by local charities.
Despite the incredible number of donations by both organisations so far, Chris said the number is not the only achievement Porthi Pawb is proud of.
“We’re proud of the numbers, and hitting numbers we never thought we would, but what we’re most proud of is the fact there are some people who look forward to this weekly meal,” he added.
“It’s needed – we’re filling a gap in the community that needs to be filled so that’s what we’re most proud of.”
And with new tougher coronavirus restrictions in Wales, Chris, who is still on furlough himself from earlier this year, says Porthi Pawb is anticipating a rise in demand for the service in the coming weeks and months.
“Everyone would prefer it if this service wasn’t needed as much as it is,” he said.
“It’s heartbreaking to think there are people in our community who need our help, but such is life, and we’re grateful we’re able to help.”
Chris added: “After being furloughed, I was sitting at home thinking about what I could do to help out.
“My partner works for the NHS, she has to deal with people with confirmed covid cases – in our house, she’s a real hero.
“Seeing her going out every day, I thought what can I do to just even be 1% of what she is.
“That was the inspiration behind Porthi Pawb.”
Anyone who wishes to use Porthi Pawb can contact the organisation through Facebook, or can contact Chris directly on his mobile number that is available through Gwynedd Council.
Porthi Pawb also works hand-in-hand with Plaid Cymru in Arfon, where a few of the town councillors work as coordinators.
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