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Aber Food Surplus encourages sustainability

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Surplus food: Served to event attendees (Pic. Christopher Byrne)

Surplus food: Served to event attendees (Pic. Christopher Byrne)

THERE are many of us that hate to see food go to waste, especially perfectly edible and decent food that no one wants sitting in the bin. Thankfully though, Aberystwyth has the hope of continuously being on the food sustainability rise, courtesy of local organisation ‘Aber Food Surplus’.

In order to highlight ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ week, where a series of events have been held, Thursday, October 27 saw Aber Food Surplus, Aberystwyth Sustainability Society and Aberystwyth University Residence Life Team join together to host an educational event at Aberystwyth University.

Prior to the screening of ‘Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story’, those who attended the event (students and staff at the university and local community members) were able to feast on a variety of perfectly fine food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

Aber Surplus was able to rescue unwanted food due to kind donations from Greggs, Aberystwyth University and Morrisons, to name a few.

It was wonderful to see the people who attended enjoying delicious soup, pasties, salads and chocolate biscuits while socialising with each other. This event was a very generous idea symbolising the very purpose of food sustainability and a chance to appreciate the food even more.

Everyone then made their way into the lecture room of the Llandinam building to await the film screening.

Chris Woodfield introduced the event by thanking everyone for attending and stated that food should be given to mouths, not bins, while explaining a bit about what the evening would entail.

Quite fittingly, the screening of ‘Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story’ was good to go as the lights dimmed for an education hour ahead.

Produced by Jenny Rustemayer and directed by Grant Baldwin, the ground-breaking documentary is a very beneficial watch for those who are interested in food sustainability.

The documentary follows a couple in America who challenge themselves to live for six months from food waste, in addition to exploring what really happens in our food system.

To fully understand the process, the documentary is split into four categories – Mindset, Consequence, Recovery and Change. The film aims to get us thinking as to how much food is wasted and from that, how much of the wasted food is still good to eat.

We learn from the documentary that, at the time of being filmed in 2014, 40% of grown food is not eaten and a third of food is not consumed globally. From this, we are able to slowly get a better insight into the effects of food waste.

On the subject of perfection, universally we all at some point or another look for food in a shop or supermarket that has no markings on it, for example. But when we step back, we realise that just because there are markings on food, does not mean it is fit for the bin – but unfortunately, the mind of retailers think differently.

To the retailers, things must look perfect and edible to the consumer, and if there is a marking/bruise on food, then it is ‘not good to eat’.

Another point that the documentary makes is the link between littering and wasting.

Society today associates littering to be a ‘sin’ or an unforgiving act that have people up in arms. Unfortunately, food waste is not treated as the same and instead, it is treated as ‘fine’ and ‘normal’. In fact, because it is so natural, it does not enter people’s minds until it is pointed out to us.

Watching the couple drive around locating bins in places like at the back of restaurants truly strikes a chord. They express the concerns they had before they started the challenge and how they thought hunting for food would be a problem but as the documentary progressed, they admitted that they find it to be easier than expected. From this, we can gather that not only is food waste considered normal behaviour in our society today, but that it continuous to carry on behind the scenes.

To illustrate the consequences of food waste, the documentary reiterates to us that despite using a lot of land to produce a lot of food, we quickly end up producing food that no one eats. As it stands in 2016, nearly 30% of the world’s agricultural land is used to grow food that is wasted. The question is, will we learn from what we do and if so, when will that be?

To get to that point, recovery is in order. To regain something that has been lost, we must learn from the estimated 60% of people who throw their food out prematurely and start to make changes in our lifestyles and our ways of thinking.

To conclude the film, the couple confide in the viewers about what they have learned from the experience and the money they saved as a result of the challenge.

Jenny, President of the Aberystwyth University Sustainability Society, addressed the lecture room to explain about the moment her perspective on food changed.

Describing her time volunteering in a Kenyan Children’s home, Jenny explained about the occasion where she found a photo of an extravagant milkshake on her Facebook newsfeed and a young child refused to believe that one person is able to consume that much.

Listening to Jenny speak about her experience clearly strikes a chord and will give you a different spin on how we all look at food sustainability. This then was followed by a Q&A session about the work that Aber Food Surplus provide in Aberystwyth and was an excellent chance for those who attended to find out how they can get involved.

The Herald spoke to Christopher Woodfield, Heather McClure and Christopher Byrne of Aber Food Surplus after the event to find out a little bit more about them: “Aber Food Surplus is made up of Chris Woodfield, Heather McClure and Chris Byrne, who met in September 2015 to form the university’s first Sustainability Society.

“The team are passionate about food waste and food security, with Chris Woodfield studying an MSc in Sustainability and Adaptation at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Heather recently completed a MA in Regional and Environmental Policy and Chris Byrne is currently studying a PhD in Food Security.”

They went on to say: “All of the team are inspired to make a positive difference in their local community here in Aberystwyth, from learning and studying about the environmental consequences of food waste contributing to climate change and also the social implications of wasting food and food poverty.”

The trio went on to tell about Aber Food Surplus and how it all began: “Aber Food Surplus is currently in the process of setting itself up as a charity-based not-for-profit social enterprise after having recently completed the Amplify Cymru social enterprise training package delivered by the Young Foundation.

“The project aims to redistribute edible fit-for-consumption food that is no longer wanted by supermarkets or retailers, ensuring this food is fed to people.

“Aber Food Surplus hopes to develop a community hub where the food can be redistributed to specific charities and community groups with the long-term aim to establish a community surplus cafe which gives this ‘waste’ or ‘surplus’ food to the community through the ‘Pay As You Feel’ model.”

In addition, they told us: “This Pay As You Feel concept has already proven successful across the UK, with two similar projects in North and South Wales. The team are inspired and enthusiastic to tackle the issue of food waste using this approach to bring the community together and hope the hub or cafe can act as a place of social cohesion and connection with local people using the space for events and activities.

Furthermore, they would like to raise awareness of how much food is being wasted and allow people to value and understand the importance of food.

About the food they provided for those who attended, they explained: “The waste or surplus food used for the event was redistributed from retailers across Aberystwyth, most notably Morrisons, who Aber Food Surplus has been working with since the beginning of year.

“The whole event was organised by volunteers, including volunteer chefs who cooked the food.”

When we asked all three about how they would encourage people to get involved with Aber Food Surplus, they explained: “The project has been facilitating the redistribution of food from Morrisons to the Salvation Army and the Wallich in Aberystwyth since the beginning of year; however, now is looking to expand and engage with other retailers and projects across the town.

“The team have no financial backing and are looking for grants and financial support with the hope of finding a premises in the centre of town to establish the redistribution network of food to the community and people who need it.

“Food waste is a universal issue and everyone can play their part in reducing wastage, whether this is via cooking more sensibly, using your green food waste bin, or challenging retailers, restaurants and cafes about what they do with their surplus or waste food.”

They all went on to say: “Food waste is often a taboo subject and, unfortunately, it appears socially acceptable to waste food. However, estimates range from as much as one third to 50% of all food produced is wasted globally, and in the UK, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimate 15 million tonnes of food are wasted annually.

“Aber Food Surplus aim to make positive social and environmental change here in Aberystwyth by tackling this food wastage in a creative, engaging and community-led way.”

Finally, they added: “For those who are interested in getting involved, finding out more, volunteering or supporting the project, contact aberfoodsurplus@outlook.com or the Facebook page ‘Aber Food Surplus’.”

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Minister opens film premiere for port stories

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WALES’ Arts and Sports Deputy Minister has launched a new film charting the histories and life of five port towns in Wales and Ireland.

Premiered at Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth, the series of eight short documentary films and one feature-length film, At the Water’s Edge: Stories of the Irish Sea, aim to promote the ports of Fishguard, Holyhead and Pembroke Dock in Wales, and Dublin Port and Rosslare Harbour in Ireland, as well as the three ferry routes connecting them.

The films were produced as part of Ports, Past and Present, a project which explores the history and cultural heritage of the ports, showcasing stunning views of the landscapes and wildlife of the Irish Sea coast and revealing the human histories of the port communities.

In Fishguard, residents Gary Jones and Jana Davidson talk of invasions by pirates and French armies, while Hedydd Hughes explains how she teaches children about local legends. In Rosslare Harbour, the Todd family from Fishguard meet their Irish in-laws, the Fergusons.

Local historian David James shares the extraordinary story of how the son of a Japanese samurai came to plant a ginkgo tree in Pembroke Dock, and local councillor Josh Beynon explores the secret location where the Millennium Falcon was built for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. 

In Dublin and Holyhead, poetry by Gillian Brownson and Gary Brown celebrates the centuries old link of their ports. Historian Gareth Huws explains how traces of Bronze Age settlements can still be seen in the Ynys Môn town.

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden MS, who came to the premiere, said:

“Through showcasing the rich and diverse cultural history of our ports, bringing life and colour through visual arts, literature and film, the Ports, Past and Present project will not only enhance the experience of visitors of all ages and interests, but also encourage more time and money spent in these communities.

“Engaging with local communities and increasing the awareness of port heritage through panel discussions, creative workshops and talks – is an excellent opportunity to gain the support of local residents ensuring there is a careful balance which works for the local communities as well as visitors from across the Irish Sea and beyond.

“I’m delighted to launch the film which will showcase and celebrate the best each community has to offer to prospective visitors and users of the ferry ports, but also capture the multilingual and multicultural nature of the ports and their surrounding areas.”

Professor Peter Merriman, project team leader at Aberystwyth University’s Department of Geography and Earth Sciences said:

“We are delighted that the Minister has officially launched our films, which portray the rich cultural and natural heritage of these Irish and Welsh port towns. They are the result of almost three years of work by the project team and our production partners Mother Goose films, and we hope that they will inspire visitors to spend more time in the ports as they pass through them.”

The films form part of a wider tourism campaign to raise awareness of the rich coastal and maritime heritage of the five selected ports and their communities.

Project leader Professor Claire Connolly from University College Cork said: “It’s a joy to see so many images and stories from Rosslare, Dublin, Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke Dock on screen. The lives and cultures of the port towns come to life in the films and together they offer an extended invitation to stop and stay in these storied places.”

Ceredigion Museum is also hosting a travelling art exhibition looking at the rich coastal history and heritage of the port communities.

Over the coming months, the films will have free screenings around Wales and Ireland, and will then be released generally so that the local communities can promote their own areas.

Ports, Past and Present is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme, and operates across four institutions in Ireland and Wales, including University College Cork, Aberystwyth University, the University of Wales Trinity St David and Wexford County Council. The film has been led by a team in the Department for Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University.

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Aberystwyth Town to welcome Knife Angel sculpture

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A HUGE 27-foot sculpture, made from 100,000 confiscated knives, is to be welcomed to Aberystwyth town next month (1 June) as local community groups prepare to come together to promote key prevention, anti-violence and anti-aggression messages.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, working alongside Dyfed-Powys Police, Aberystwyth Town Council and Ceredigion County Council is bringing the Knife Angel to Llys y Brenin square, Aberystwyth, where it will stand for four weeks as a physical reminder of the effects of violence and aggression.

The iconic sculpture – commissioned by the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire and created by artist Alfie Bradley – will be on display in the town until 29 June 2022.

This will be the second time that Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn has bought the Knife Angel to the Dyfed Powys Police Force area, with it’s first visit being in Newtown, Powys in January 2020.  Mr Llywelyn has been keen to bring the Knife Angel back to the Force area since then, so that other communities can get involved in the key messages.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said; “The Knife Angel is a reminder of the devastating impact of knife crime, and any form of violence and aggression has on families and communities.

“Whilst there has been a 105% increase in knife crime in Wales over the last decade, rest assured that the Knife Angel has not been brought to Aberystwyth because of any major problem with this kind of crime in the area.

“However, we do acknowledge, that knife crimes have taken place here within the last year. Although a proportion of these were domestic, not street based, it is worrying that a small number of these involved suspects under the age of 18. I am pleased to see however that the Police and partners have come together over the last 6-months to put interventions in place to divert children from knife crime.

“Prevention of crime and diversion away from crime is essential. We hope that the Knife Angel will greatly assist us in raising critical awareness of knife crime whilst creating a widespread intolerance to violent behaviour within our communities.”

Inspector Andy Williams of Dyfed-Powys Police said: “While Dyfed-Powys Police is one of the safest places to live and work in the country, we still see the devastating effect knife crime has on our communities.

“In July last year we had a murder in Ceredigion involving a knife, when John Bell died after being stabbed in Cardigan.

“That case showed the devastation knives can have, with the loss of a life and the impact that has on Mr Bell’s loved ones, withs the man responsible rightly being sentenced to life in prison.

“The Knife Angel is a very dramatic and powerful sculpture that aims to inspire people not to turn to knife crime or even to carry a knife for protection.

“I would urge anyone to go and see it. Take your children and make a day of it to take in this poignant reminder of the dangers of violence and aggression, particularly when weapons are involved.”

Aberystwyth Town Mayor, Dr Talat Chaudhri, said: “We welcome the Knife Angel to Aberystwyth and stand together with towns and cities where knife crime is a bigger problem than it is here. There is no place for violence of any kind in our community.”

Children and young people from across Aberystwyth and neighbouring areas are being encouraged to get involved as well as community groups and organisations, in visiting the Knife Angel and taking part in engagement activities which focus on the key messages – the impact of violent crime, prevention, and diversion away from violence.

If you would like to find out more about how you, your community, school, college or university groups can get involved, please contact the Commissioner’s Engagement Team on OPCC.Communication@dyfed-powys.police.uk.

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Young person celebrates kickstart job and overcomes several obstacles

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22-YEAR-OLD Lee from rural Ceredigion found it challenging to secure permanent employment. Having no mode of transport as well as his diagnosis of autism and depression meant that Lee has experienced significant barriers with finding and maintaining employment. Communities For Work Plus (CFW+) provided Lee with the right tools and opportunities to find the right role for him. He now has a job at ASN Watson (Savers), with a more positive future ahead.

Lee was struggling financially with increasing debt and although he had been working in the past, the nature and environment of the work was not practical for Lee’s abilities; he was often misunderstood by employers.

After being referred to CFW+ from Job Centre Plus, Aberystwyth, Lee received support with job searches, applications, cover letters, cv writing, and interview skills. He’s now in paid employment, secured through the Kickstart Scheme. The UK Government Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit.

Lee said: “The project helped me a lot as I struggle to know where to start when it comes to finding jobs, but this definitely helped. Communities for Work+ has got you covered!”

Communities For Work Plus is a Welsh Government funded project, delivered by Ceredigion County Council which supports individuals in or at risk of poverty, aged 16 or over, across Ceredigion and throughout Wales. Participants may be experiencing in-work poverty, unemployment, living on minimum wage, or struggling to pay basic monthly outgoings on sporadic zero-hour contracts.

Misha Homayoun-Fekri, CFW+ Mentor said: “Lee has been a pleasure to support. He was always very responsive, and we worked together every step of the way. I am so pleased for Lee that he has found a job that he can be happy in.”

Since starting his new role, Lee has become a lot more independent, his mental health has improved, and has started to save money for the future.

Councillor Wyn Thomas, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Lifelong Learning and Skills, said: “One in 100 people are on the autism spectrum. A report released by the Office for National Statistics shows that only 21.7% of autistic people are in employment; meaning that businesses are missing out on the opportunity to benefit from the strengths that autistic people can bring to the workplace. So, it’s great to hear that Lee has found an autism-friendly employer through the support provided by CFW+ and I encourage more employers to be more inclusive to all abilities when considering employees.”

If you think the project may be able to help you or if you would like more information, contact the team on 01545 574193 or email TCC-EST@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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