21 December 2020
A charity which has provided more than 18,000 hot meals free-of-charge to the residents of Caernarfon since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic are preparing for a busy Christmas period.
Since April, Porthi Pawb has provided weekly meals to vulnerable members of the community. The charity was set up by Chris Summers from Caernarfon, head chef of the Oyster Catcher restaurant on Anglesey, in response to the problems caused by the virus, which saw some people unable to leave their homes while isolating, while others lost their jobs.
The tireless work of Porthi Pawb will be featured on television show 'Dolig Epic Chris, on Monday 21 December on S4C. In the programme, Chris Roberts, the chef star of the Bwyd Epic Chris series and his cousin Chris Summers, join the Porthi Pawb team to cook a Hong Kong spiced Goose with all the trimmings and deliver to residents of Caernarfon.
Chris Roberts said: "This Christmas is going to be lonely for a lot of people and in this special programme I wanted to show people the incredible work that Porthi Pawb does.
"Me and my cousin Chris, who is an amazing chef, cooked a Christmas feast for the lonely and vulnerable people of Caernarfon. It was so nice to go and deliver the food and have a chat with people and see how they are. Porthi Pawb offers an amazing Service that is so important."
Chris Summers, a Porthi Pawb co-ordinator, added: "Everyone loved the food Chris prepared, it was a real treat for them. They really enjoyed the Asian influence of the Hong Kong goose.
"We won't be taking time off over Christmas, we will be distributing meals on December 23 and 30. And this week, we are delivering Christmas meals and pudding to everyone who put their names forward, so it's a busy time for us!"
With food being provided by local suppliers and supermarkets, over fifty volunteers come together every week to cook traditional Welsh meals in the kitchen of Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen and deliver them to the town's residents. When demand was at its highest during the summer, Porthi Pawb was providing food for over 1,000 residents per week.
Chris Summers added: "During the first lockdown, I was sitting in my house with nothing to do and missing the kitchen, so I started thinking about how I could help the community.
"I spoke with local food suppliers and they had a lot of food that was going to waste, so I asked if I could have it, with a view of feeding around 30, maybe 40 people. I got the use of a kitchen to prepare the food and I set up the Porthi Pawb Facebook page to explain the plan, which was to prepare meals for the elderly and vulnerable in the community. We went from 60 meals to 120 in the second week, and that continued to double and double. I couldn't believe how many people wanted our meals.
"It's moved on a lot since then and as well as vulnerable residents, we feed families in need too. A lot of people are struggling for work and have money troubles at the moment because of the pandemic, so we decided to open it out to everyone. We realised as we came out of the first lockdown that we needed a service like this all year round, so we still provide around 300 meals a week to people who rely on this service.
"It says a lot about the people of Caernarfon that so many are ready to help when times are hard."
The group has since set up another project called Porthi Plantos, which provides meals for children, as well as Porthi Plant Dillad, which recycles clothes to provide for those who need them most.
The group has also received queries about whether the project could be taken to other parts of north Wales.
Summers added: "There have been conversations with councillors from other areas to see if it's possible to set up Porthi Pawb in their area too. It's quite difficult because it's full on – it's full time work for a lot of the people leading the project. But the conversations are still going on to try and make it happen.
"It is growing. Councillors Dawn Jones and Eleri Lovgreen have set up Porthi Plantos Dillad, where we receive clothes from families who no longer need them. They give them to us, we wash them, sort them into age groups and we give them out, in good condition, to families who need them. Porthi Pawb has grown into a big project now.
"It's not an easy time for a lot of people, so we are just glad to be able to help people out."
'Dolig Epic Chris will be shown at 8.00 on Monday 21 December on S4C, or watch on demand on S4C Clic and iPlayer. The new series of Bwyd Epic Chris starts at 8.30pm on Monday 28 December.