28 August 2023

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On the North coast of Wales, in the town of Rhyl, the Foryd Community Centre is helping to make a real difference to people's lives.

The charity - supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery - offers a warm and welcoming place where the community can come together to socialise, access support and advice, and take advantage of training and volunteering opportunities.

James is one of the many people helped in difficult times by the centre.

"It's been a turning point for me and life seems a bit brighter," James explained. "The team helped me with food and told me about the café they run. I went every day it was open and have met lots of new people."

James arrived in the town earlier this year as a recently widowed 73-year-old. When the team first met him, he was in temporary accommodation in a local hotel with no cooking facilities and spending his income on takeaways. He was quickly given foodbank provisions and provided with a microwave. The volunteers also encouraged him to visit the café where he could enjoy healthier meals and meet other people.

With the help of the centre's benefits adviser, James was able to access Pension Credit plus other support and grants. This meant he could rent his own small flat.

It's successes likes this that make it all worthwhile for the hardworking team at the centre, according to Project Director Fiona Davies.

"The cost-of-living crisis is having an impact,", Fiona explained. "For many, the choice is stark: heat or eat. They can't afford to heat their homes and feed themselves too."

The café serves 300 meals a week where "Roast Dinner Wednesday" has long been a feature, and breakfasts are served up on Thursday and Fridays.

A hot meal costs £1 a head - a lifeline for people struggling to make ends meet.

The foodbank provides over 42,000 meals per year, working in partnership with Fareshare, local farms and suppliers. It costs around £180,000 a year to provide this support.

Players of People's Postcode Lottery have made a positive impact, funding the recruitment of a project coordinator to ensure all services run smoothly.

Fiona added, "We take a holistic approach, addressing immediate needs - food, fuel vouchers, transport - while also helping people improve certain aspects of their life with free access to broadband, advice on claiming benefits, creating a CV and applying for jobs."

Some of those who've benefited also now volunteer, including James. He said, "I help out at the foodbank a couple of times a week - it's all about giving back, isn't it?"