A dedicated charity food bank which delivers over 70 parcels in and around Conwy every month has had a helping hand from one of Wales’s biggest food supply companies.
Bags of Love/Bagiau Cariad was set up by parishioners at St Mary’s Church in the town three years ago at the height of the pandemic lockdown and today is stepping up its efforts as rocketing fuel and food bills put more and more families into difficulty.
They have just received a helping hand from Harlech Foodservices, based in Criccieth and Chester and one of Wales’s biggest food distribution companies, who have donated £500 from their 50th Anniversary Charity Fund.
The fund offers grants totalling £10,000 to good causes, organisations, clubs and charities across Harlech Foodservice’s area of operation in Wales and the border counties.
Bags of Love Co-founder Lynn Jones said: “I was isolating myself at the time and couldn’t go out and we heard that there were lots of people really struggling financially and so a group of us got together and decided to try and do something to help.”
Lynn, her husband, Trevor, St David’s vicar the Rev David Parry and another parishioner, Sylvia Parker, contacted the local primary school, Ysgol Porth y Felin, to see if there were families that needed help.
She added: “We contacted families having free school meals and that first Christmas we provided about 30 Bags of Love and since then we have just grown and grown and now we are doing about 75 hampers a month.
“We began in St Mary’s but we very soon had lots of help from our other churches in the Bro Celynnin ministry area.
“We have built good relationships with other local schools including the secondary school, Ysgol Aberconwy, Ysgol Capelulo and Ysgol Llangelynnin – it’s a very good way to find out where the need is.
“Now we have collection points from Llandudno to Llanfairfechan in all our local churches and we’ve had great support from local supermarkets but donations like this from Harlech Foodservice are so vital for us.”
Harlech Accounts Manager Penny Jones called in to see the charity in action at its Rose Hill Street headquarters in Conwy where the team of 40 volunteers make up the hampers worth up to £40 each every month.
She said: “The team here at Bags of Love are doing a fantastic job and providing a vital service for so many people who are really struggling at the moment.
“They have developed excellent partnerships with the local schools to identify where the need is and they work really hard to help so many families who are facing a difficult winter.”
As well as foods, especially non-perishables and easy to heat up ready meals liked tinned soup, mince and curries, Bags of Love also provide household goods and toiletries.
Lynn said: “We’ve just opened a new collection point at Conwy Culture Centre in Town Ditch Road and the bags sent out in December also had Christmas cards made by children from Ysgol Porth y Felin.”
Harlech Managing Director David Cattrall said: “In the past 50 years we have grown from small beginnings into a major North Wales company with bases in Criccieth and Chester and we couldn’t have done that without the support of our loyal customers across the region.
“Bags if Love are a well-established and deserving local charity working in and around Conwy and this is our way of saying thank you to the people of that community by sharing in our success and putting something back into the area which has supported us.
“We have had a fantastic response to our setting up of the charity fund and over the coming months we will be looking at the applications we have had and deciding how we can best share out the £10,000.”
Harlech Foodservices was founded by Colin and Gill Foskett above a shop in Harlech in 1972 and now delivers up to 5,000 product lines to cafés, restaurants, pubs and public sector customers across North and Mid-Wales, Shropshire, the Midlands and the North West from its modern bases in Criccieth and Chester.
Colin and Gill’s sons and daughter are still on the board and the third generation of the Foskett family are now among a workforce which has grown steadily as the business has expanded to include NHS Wales, care homes and schools, colleges and universities.
For more on Harlech Foodservices go to https://www.harlech.co.uk/