A year of adapting and new opportunities for Siop Griffiths in the wake of COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected many groups funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, but we are extremely proud of how some of them have adapted their services to support their communities over the past year.

Person wearing a mask loading two bags of food into an electric car

In this blog we talk to Siop Griffiths, based in Pen-y-groes, Gwynedd, who is one of those groups who have adapted extensively to support the local community through this challenging time.

Amongst many other things, Siop Griffiths formed a partnership with the local Co-Op to use food waste to make meals and to distribute food bags to vulnerable people. National Lottery funding has also helped them develop a project to grow food for families by establishing allotments, a community wild garden and an outdoor learning area.

Ben Gregory, Secretary of Siop Griffiths, explains more about the busy year they’ve had:

“The last year has been very exciting, but also terribly challenging for Siop Griffiths. COVID-19 has had a major influence on our services but has seen Siop Griffiths adapt quickly.

Here is a summary of some of the year’s main events:

  • the café in March 2020 due to COVID-19 and changing the work of our team to co-ordinate the community response to the pandemic;
  • reopening the café in August, employing staff directly to save the business in the short term;
  • appointing a Food and Wellbeing Officer to work on the surplus food scheme, allotments and a wild garden;
  • borrowing an electric car for a year from Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig;
  • the collection and distribution of the Co-op’s waste food at Pen-y- groes;
  • distributing hot meals prepared in the café to vulnerable people using the electric car;
  • launching work to create a wild garden, identify land for allotments and make a planning application;
  • employing a Digital Apprentice and Community Transport Co-ordinator;
  • providing a placement for three young people under the Byw a Bod scheme;
  • appointing an Outdoor Activities Officer to arrange trips for people to improve their physical and mental health;
  • re-purpose the Station Parlour to offer a new service (Fuse and Repair Café) after Easter.
Electric car parked on a street

Making a difference in the community

We have focused on leading the community response to the challenges of COVID-19 last year, but have tried to continue with the development of things that are in our business plan. Due to our commitment to the community benefit, many of the responses to the pandemic have accelerated things that were originally in our long-term plans

During the year we are proud to have:

  • recruited 53 short-term and 17 long-term volunteers;
  • supporting 81 vulnerable people with a prescription collection, shopping and care call service;
  • recruited 4 members to the allotment project and 4 volunteers to the wild garden project;
  • recruited 4 volunteer drivers to the transport and food distribution project;
  • prevented over 1,000 items from becoming waste by distributing them to local people;
  • started a food for vulnerable people project, with 25 receiving food twice a week, and a target of 40;
  • installed a LoRaWan point on one of our buildings, to develop community projects linked to the Internet of Things

The future

There are plans to house our employment and training work for young people at the Digital Centre, with a list of 12 volunteers ready to help us. We also hope to provide an office for our staff, which has increased from three to seven over the past year.

Our Development and Marketing Officer has been focusing on supporting the café since the summer, which has been very challenging at times, but we currently offer a takeaway service. The Officer has also been preparing the accommodation to open by Easter.

We are also in the process of installing charging points for electric vehicles in the yard, and we are working in partnership with other GwyrddNi organisations in north Wales, which have received a Climate Action Fund grant. Siop Griffiths will provide a venue for a Climate Change Facilitator and help support the work.

A year of adapting and new opportunities

As you can see, it has been a busy and exciting year, and we have definitely learned the importance of being flexible and discussing changes with our funders, and to adapt to challenging circumstances and take new opportunities.

We are very grateful to The National Lottery Community Fund for the funding that has enabled us to further support our communities and employ staff to develop the community response.”

A group of people hiking

Siop Griffiths received an additional grant of £29,916 from The National Lottery Community Fund to help them support their community during COVID-19. They are also part of the Climate Action Boost programme and an excellent example of how receiving National Lottery funding enables groups to attract more funding from other sources to expand projects, as they have also received support from the Rank Foundation, ICT, Arfor, Menter Môn and Gwynedd Council.

If you have an idea for a community project, talk to us about our grants by calling 029 2168 0214, emailing wales@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk or go to: tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding

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