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Let’s talk about food

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Aber Food Forum: Community Cafe kitchen (Pic. Alun Williams)

ABER FOOD FORUM are staging regular Community Cafe events in Aberystwyth.

The idea is that people come along, share a meal, enjoy good company and talk together about food-related issues. The meals are prepared with surplus food donated by Morrisons supermarket. At the last Community Cafe on January 10, supper was served to 25 people in Taste on Terrace Road. The idea for Aber Food Forum grew out of conversations between Naomi Salmon and Jane Powell in the wake of the latter’s Food Values project, which was led by Organic Centre Wales.

Food Values researched how people’s values could inform the delivery of successful food education.

A FOOD UMBRELLA

Naomi Salmon told The Herald: “Basically, what had become clear to both of us was that whilst there is a lot going on in and around Aber in terms of food-related activities, there was no ‘umbrella’ network or any sort of obvious forum that could help to bring all these fabulous initiatives and interested citizens together.

“Projects and groups such as Edible Mach, local community gardens, such as Borth Community Gardens and Tyfu Aber, ethical small businesses etcetera, all play a crucial role in the local food landscape but, for a variety of reasons, and to varying degrees, there is something of disconnect or lack of coherence across what we describe broadly as ‘our local food environment’. If we imagine a landscape, it’s sort of like a patchwork of amazing fertility and vibrant growth but with various hills obscuring the broader view.”

“The last few years have witnessed a real groundswell of concern about the way the current food system functions and a strong desire in many people to see, and to create, positive change.

“We felt that if we set up a sort of ‘hub’, we could provide a good platform for individuals, community groups, vegetable growers, farmers, small food businesses and activists to come together. It felt that while we all know broadly what’s going on within our various social and work ‘bubbles’, it’s often the case that there are great things going on that we don’t know about.

“How brilliant it would be, we thought, to facilitate the strengthening and broadening of our vibrant local food system. How amazing it would be to create a forum for skills-sharing, awareness raising and conversations about food. So, as a first step, we created the Facebook group page and started running more or less monthly ‘Community Cafe’ events. These are themed evening events which have proven to be successful and very enjoyable. I’ve certainly met people who I might not have connected with otherwise.

“We’ve had sessions where Aber Food Surplus have talked about their work and motivations and have also provided and cooked the meal. We’ve had evenings of talks about cider-making and the wonders of sauerkraut. We’ve even had a poetry evening.”

HALVE FOOD WASTE BY 2030

On the broader view, campaigners have called on the EU to halve food waste by 2030. If this initiative was adopted, it would eliminate 44 million tonnes of food waste every year in the UK alone. On Tuesday (Jan 24), the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted on new regulations that will determine food waste policy for the next 15 years. The campaign is backed by 42 organisations from 15 countries. More than 47,000 people have signed an online petition supporting the initiative. The committee duly voted for the Circular Economy Package. Although MEPs also strengthened legislation to halve food waste by 2030, the target remains voluntary and non-binding.

Martin Bowman, a campaigner with Machynlleth-based organisation This is Rubbish, which started the UK public petition, said: “The circular economy package has potential to be the most ambitious food waste agreement in the world, and that’s urgently needed – both for the environment and the millions suffering from food poverty in Europe.”

This is Rubbish estimate that the 88 million tonnes of food wasted in EU countries every year could feed the 55 million people designated as living in food poverty in Europe more than nine times over. France and Italy already have national schemes to reduce food waste. This month, the UK’s major supermarkets have faced questions from a parliamentary inquiry about food waste in their supply chains.

Although supermarkets do make some effort to redistribute out-of-date but still edible food via charities and food banks, at less than 2% of their total surpluses, their contribution is much less than in other European countries.

NEXT ON THE MENU IN ABER

Aber Food Forum has grown to a core team of five, incorporating people who set up Aber Food Surplus. The Forum are looking for more volunteers to join their organising committee as they move forward. The next Community Cafe will be on Tuesday, February 7 at 6.30pm – see the group’s Facebook page for details of the venue. The evening will have a marine-environment conservation theme, which is highly topical due to the implications of Brexit for marine conservation. The Herald is reasonably certain Cardigan Bay scallops will not be in the menu. On Monday, February 13, from 2pm to 7pm in the Morlan Centre, Aber Food Forum in collaboration with Cynnal y Cardi have organised a ‘visioning afternoon’ entitled ‘Let’s Talk About Food’, inviting everyone to ‘drop in for a quick cuppa and chat or stay for the whole afternoon’. They particularly want to meet anyone involved in local food projects, members of community gardens, and people making and processing food locally. Aber Food Forum are interested in the food issues that concern people and their families.

They would like to improve the availability of locally produced food and build on ‘all the great work that is already being done in our little corner of Wales’.

We asked Naomi Salmon what people who support the aims of Aber Food Forum should do: “Join us! Come along to the next Community Cafe event. Come along to our bigger ‘visioning’ day at the Morlan. Bring your knowledge, skills, passion, energy and desire for change! We can all make a difference and in a world where the global challenges we face can feel overwhelming, grassroots local action can be very empowering!”

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Ysgol Penglais pupil Kai Frisby shares his experience of the Rickshaw Challenge

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MATT BAKER, the Children in Need crew and BBC Breakfast rolled into Aberystwyth for a momentous occasion for a local hero.

It all happened on Wednesday, October 19,

Kai Frisby, who is 16 years old and has cerebral palsy took part in the BBC Children in Need Rickshaw challenge accompanied by none other than Matt Baker. The challenge for Kai was to ride from Plascrug Leisure Centre to Capel Bangor and returning to Aberystwyth Seafront.

Kai, a pupil at Ysgol Penglais is a popular and influential member of Aberystwyth wheelchair basketball club and is an ambassador for the Mighty Ducks. Kai is a Welsh International and is often seen shooting hoops on any court across Ceredigion and beyond.

Kai has previously benefited from the Children in Need campaign and having an opportunity to participate and contribute to the 2022 challenge and fundraising was a privilege and honour for him. Kai was nominated by head coach Lee Coulson.

Lee Coulson said: “Kai has been attending the club for over 7 years and his achievement within the sport as an ambassador and a Welsh international has been outstanding. Kai has shown that no matter what disability you have, anything is possible when you put your mind to it.”

Lee continued: “The rickshaw challenge was going to prove to be really difficult, as Kai is a full-time wheelchair user and does not use his legs on a daily basis. It was an amazing experience for Kai and wheelchair basketball as we try and raise the profile of the sport. We hope it encourages people with and without disabilities to come forward and try this amazing sport. Kai found the day emotionally and physically hard but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The support locally was unbelievable with people cheering and supporting along the entire route. The route was just over 12 miles and he has never cycled that distance previously. However, he was supported by the Children in Need Team and his physiotherapist Caryl to be able to take part in the challenge.”

Kai Frisby, said: “The rickshaw challenge was a fantastic opportunity for me and I absolutely loved the experience. Initially they reached out to me because they have been long-time supporters of Aberystwyth wheelchair basketball club. I was a bit sceptical at first for the obvious reason that I’m in a chair. I wasn’t a confident bike rider. My concern rose after being told that I was going to cycle 12 miles. I had never ridden that far before. However, I think I was concerned for no reason because as soon as I started, the worry disappeared.

“It was great to see the overwhelming support, especially from the school and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Matt Baker. I cannot thank the amazing team for what they did for me, and I have made great connections with other riders. It was a pleasure to meet them and to hear their stories as well as getting to share my own. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and I’m so proud of everyone who took part. I’m looking forward to seeing how much money we’ve raised.”

Kai’s parents said: “Kai has been supported by a number of different charities over his life and when an opportunity as exciting as this one came along he couldn’t say no. It was such a great opportunity to give something back and help raise money for a charity that supports so many. We are immensely proud of you Kai, congratulations.”

Councillor Catrin M. S. Davies is the Cabinet Member with responsibility for Leisure. She said: “It’s great that Kai has achieved such an ambitious challenge. It is clear that Kai is not only an outstanding athlete but a brave individual and he is an example to us all. Congratulations to you Kai and thank you for putting Ceredigion on the BBC Children in Need map.”

A special one-off documentary will be aired on BBC One on Tuesday, 15 November which will not only share the team’s remarkable stories but also celebrate the history of the Rickshaw Challenge.

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Theatr Felinfach’s Autumn/Winter Programme announced

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As a new term starts at Theatr Felinfach it’s also a time to celebrate that culture is igniting again as the theatre excites to reveal their programme for the Autumn and Winter months. Don’t dishearten that the nights are getting darker because there’s an opportunity for you to enjoy and warm your souls with a bit of music, comedy and drama without forgetting the annual Christmas panto!

November is full to the brim, it’s wonderful to welcome back Mid Wales Opera to the theatre on 3 November, with their small stages tour with an evening of magical music including a performance of ‘Puss In Boots (El Gato Con Batos)’ by Montsvalvatge.

If classic Welsh language literature is your bag, an adaptation by Bara Caws, of the classic ‘Un Nos Ola Leuad’ (One Moonlit Night) will be on stage on 1 November, a novel which has captured the imagination of generations.

On 11 November there will be an evening of folk music in the company of ‘Cynefin’ (with band) which is the creative vision of Cletwr Valley native Owen Shiers which gives a modern voice to Ceredigion’s rich neglected cultural heritage.

What better way to bring November performances to an end than with an evening full of laughter. On 19 November we will have a ‘Comedy Evening’ with no-one other than Noel James from Cwmtawe returning to the theatre with brand new content and entertainment of the highest degree! Steffan Evans from Eglwyswrw will be helping Noel out who’s a comedian with a unique outlook on the world.

Tickets for the above performances are available to order now online or through the box office. The annual Christmas Panto will take place between 10-17 December this year with tickets going on sale to the public on 21 October.

There’s also an opportunity for you to become a Friend of Theatr Felinfach where you can receive regular news, early bookings for performances and lots more. You can also volunteer at Theatr Felinfach – a great way to experience being a part of the theatre world.

The theatre have also re-started participatory sessions. On Wednesday there’s a chance for individuals over 50 to socialise between 1:30pm-3:00pm. An opportunity for young people between 7-18 years to enjoy and learn new performing skills at the Performing School after school on Thursdays between 4:30pm-6:45pm. On Friday mornings at 10:00am there will be Tic Toc sessions for children 0-3 years and their parents/guardians to sing, dance and story tell.

For more information and tickets, please contact the box office on 01570 470697 or theatrfelinfach@ceredigion.gov.uk between Monday to Friday from 9:30am until 4:30pm.

You can keep up with Theatr Felinfach on their social media channels; Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram on @TheatrFelinfach

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Pioneering theatre company in line for top award

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A pioneering theatre company which has won fans at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Green Man and other festivals is in line for a major award.

Hijinx Theatre, which has bases in Aberystwyth and Carmarthen and has created opportunities for scores of learning disabilities including autism, has been shortlisted for one of this year’s Wales Care Awards, organised by Care Forum Wales to recognise outstanding work in the care sector.

It has been nominated in the category for the Sir Bryn Terfel Foundation Award for promoting the arts in social care, which is sponsored by the Pendine Arts and Community Trust (PACT).

PACT was established by the Pendine Park care organisation to support arts and community activities across Wales.

Hijinx Theatre was established in 2006 and through its productions, workshops and community activities has helped to change people’s perception of learning disability. That achievement was acknowledged in 2019 when the company received a St David’s Award.

The company has five academies throughout Wales – one each in Colwyn Bay, Carmarthen and Aberystwyth and two in Cardiff – providing professional training for 70 talented actors with learning disabilities and autism, and some have gone on to appear in major TV roles.

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown posed huge problems for all theatres but at Hijinx it was a particularly difficult time as so many learning disabled people faced isolation.

“We were very concerned about the impact closing our sessions could have on the people we support,” said Development Officer Greta Bettinson.

“We wanted to prevent loss of the confidence or communication skills gained through our work and maintain the professional skills of our Hijinx actors. During lockdown we continued to support over 150 participants, ensuring they were safe and connected, as for many our sessions were the only regular external contact.”

During lockdown Hijinx delivered a remarkable 550 online sessions, made over 600 submissions to casting directors, reached over 1,100 people through corporate training, made two short films which provided high-quality experience for six actors and produced five new on-line theatre pieces.

One of those webinar pieces, titled “Metamorphosis”, won awards for the best director and most innovative use of technology at the international Good The@tre Festival in 2020.

Tributes to the work have come from participants, their families and outside bodies.

Supporting the Care Award nomination, one parent wrote: “I was fearful that our daughter would go back to being completely socially isolated again due to lockdown, but she is really enjoying the group chat and it’s the highlight of her week.”

One young person who has blossomed through her involvement is “Ellen”, who joined Hijinx in 2015, having previously found it difficult to make friends and suffered with depression.

After her parents saw Hijinx performing at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Theatre she joined the company and in 2018 was chosen to represent the company on an international tour. It was the first time she and others had been on a plane and travelled without their parents.

“I started to adapt and it was really exciting,” she said. “Once we did a performance in France at 1am! Hijinx teaches you how to be professional. They teach me to restrain my energy and put it into my work.”

A recent impact study by Milestone Tweed, who help organisations to generate and develop their income, stated: “Hijinx is clearly significantly changing the lives of the actors and participants with which it works. For many of them, it is highly likely that these life-altering and life-defining changes have happened as a direct result of their engagement with Hijinx.”

Hijinx’s success has influenced mainstream theatre and film companies to cast more diversely.

Greta proudly commented: “By making it commonplace to see actors with learning disabilities and/or autism on our stages and screens we are raising the aspirations for learning disabled people generally.”

The Wales Care Awards will be presented at a ceremony at City Hall, Cardiff, on October 21, the evening’s main sponsors being Ontex UK.

The event will once again be hosted by popular tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, best known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads and this year will be streamed live for the first time.

Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the aim of the Wales Care Awards was to recognise the unstinting and remarkable dedication of unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.

He said: “The social care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job, it’s a vocation – these are people who go the extra mile for others.

“During the Covid crisis, this fantastic workforce rose magnificently to the challenge, putting their own lives on the line to do everything they possibly could to safeguard the people for whom they provide care.

“Unfortunately, it has taken a global pandemic for many other people to realise how important and how significant our social care workforce is.

“Their incredible contribution was summed up best in the powerful and emotive words of the song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, which was set to the famous tune of Men of Harlech. The message that the diolch should last forever is one that we should never forget.

“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards people need and never recognise the value of people who need care in society.

“All the nominees deserve to be lauded and applauded and it’s a real pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists.

“I congratulate all the individuals who have shown outstanding dedication and professionalism. Every one of them should be proud of their achievement.

“They are Wales’s finest.”

Care Awards Wales 2022; Hijinx Theatre ; CEO Sarah Horner and Greta Bettinson Picture Mandy Jones
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