Trivallis’ Hometown Heroes campaign aims to celebrate the stories of people doing good things to help others in their communities, throughout RCT.
This week our hero is Mandy Haydon-Hall from Pontypridd, who has been working hard to ensure local people have had access to food during times of crisis by running Pontypridd foodbank. We caught up with Mandy to find out what she has been doing…
“I have always been involved with the foodbank and was lucky enough to be appointed administrator around five years ago. I worked in this role for a few years before becoming the manager in 2018. In my past, I’ve needed help from the foodbank as I’m a single mother of seven children and there were times when I struggled. I’ve experienced both sides of foodbanks, which is why I see it as my way of giving back and helping others in the same situation as I was once in.
“We have seen a huge increase in the demand for help from foodbanks this year, especially during the flooding and lockdown. We are feeding 1000 more people compared to this time last year, over 2000 people as it stands. I just want to ease the stress, so people don’t need to worry about food when they have plenty of other things to worry about, especially during a pandemic.” Mandy explained.
Mandy and her team supply food to those in Pontypridd and surrounding areas, including Upper Boat, Hopkinstown, Ynysybwl and Beddau. She has also been working to support the launch of a foodbank in Nelson, showing them the ropes for when they are ready to open.
Mandy said: “We supply your basic foodbank items such as tins and cupboard staples, but I have also created a partnership with Fare Share to get access to fresh food, in order to provide fruit and veg in our food parcels. Due to COVID-19, we have had to adapt, and we now offer cleaning products to help people keep their homes germ-free to protect them from the virus. We have also started to provide pet food, because we don’t want anyone having to give away their pets just because of the difficult time we are living in.
“Our food donations mainly come from the public, we have drop off points in local shops that people can put items into. After a chance conversation, I also set up a street collection network to maintain stock levels, where we can pick up donated items from doorsteps. Members of the town council help us out by going shopping once a week and picking up items that we are desperate for. With all the donations coming in and being distributed, it brings everyone together with the sense of community.”
The Pontypridd foodbank had three distribution centres at the beginning of the year, St Luke’s, St Catherine’s and in the Tabernacle. Due to COVID-19 many volunteers had to shield, which meant the numbers of volunteers dropped significantly and distribution centres had to be closed. Instead, Mandy decided to run the foodbank from the hub set up at St Luke’s with a small number of new community volunteers helping.
Mandy explained: “The number of my volunteers dropped whilst the number of people in need grew. To manage this, I decided to create a partnership with Travol, a community transport charity. They were at a loss as people no longer needed their service. We were able to get a grant funded by local councils to pay for Travol to distribute our food parcels to people. This meant people were staying safe at home and still receiving the food they needed, and we were able to help Travol stay in business.”
Hayley Richards nominated Mandy for all her hard work, she said: “This year has been a massive challenge for Mandy, she has ensured people have had access to food during times of crisis including throughout the floods in February and lockdown. Despite the increase in the need for food aid, Mandy has managed to keep donations coming in to ensure people are fed. She goes way beyond the call of duty to help and support local people. Mandy is an inspirational wonder woman; she is incredibly passionate and determined to offer a helping hand when people need it most.
“Mandy is committed to making sure the most vulnerable and the most in need in our communities are not overlooked or ignored. She does everything in her power to help people, to show that she understands, to show people that they are important, and that people care. Mandy really deserves the recognition for all that she does, she’s a hero!”
We agree, Mandy deserves to be recognised for all her continued hard work in helping people and making sure they have food for themselves and their families. Thank you, Mandy for being a hero within your community and providing support in a time of need.
If you know a Hometown Hero that you would like to nominate, you can fill out a form, here.
Visit our Hometown Hero Hall of Fame to see the other heroes in our communities, here.