Business needs to be agile at the best of times, but faced with the unprecedented challenges of Covid19, businesses in Gwynedd and Anglesey, working alongside the third sector, have dug deep to innovate in ways they hope will leave a positive legacy from these troubling times.
A scheme set up to feed vulnerable people and key NHS workers during the crisis is now set to offer future opportunities to many local businesses.
‘Neges’ was put in place soon after lockdown by Dylan’s restaurants and Menter Môn, initially as a response to help feed local families having difficulty accessing essential food supplies. The partnership, which also includes local authorities and food suppliers, has so far delivered food parcels to over 1,800 people. And a further 5,000 packed lunches and prepared meals have been provided for front line workers.
As people settle into a new routine of lockdown and social distancing, Neges partners are now looking at potential positives to take out of the current crisis. The hope is the project could become part of a longer-term solution for the future sustainability of businesses in the hospitality sector as well as local food and drink producers and suppliers.
David Evans, one of the owners of Dylan’s explains:
“When we first started talking to Menter Môn about Neges we didn’t anticipate the level of demand there’d be for the service. In that sense it has exceeded expectations and we’re pleased to have made a difference. We’ve been able to put our own facilities to good use to prepare meals and thanks to suppliers across the area we’ve been able to use quality local produce.
“Whilst the aim initially was to provide support to vulnerable people and key workers, as a business we also have to adapt to survive. It’s no secret that the pandemic has hit our sector very hard, so we must plan ahead. The hope is that Neges could become a vehicle to help local businesses, such as ours as we consider the future and how we can diversify to ensure we have a sustainable business model post Covid-19. None of us have ever seen a time like this before – we must learn from it and look for the positives moving forward.”
Neges is managed by Menter Môn’s local food initiative, Môn Larder, and ensures the whole budget is spent locally. It is estimated that 80% of the scheme’s suppliers do the same – making partners optimistic it will help pave the way to develop a circular economy model for the future.
Dafydd Gruffydd is Managing Director of Menter Môn, he said:
“The success of this project stems from everyone getting involved and having a can-do attitude – taking responsibility for their own areas and using their own expertise and resources to make a difference. We need to harness this for future growth and the sustainability of our communities. With new partnerships put in place Neges can have a positive knock-on effect on the whole food and drink sector by strengthening local supply chains.”
“Making the most of resources available to us locally is a core value at Menter Môn – and this is one of the reasons I think Neges has been able to make such a difference. We started out with the aim of providing food parcels to vulnerable families in the area – but by working together we are now seeing an innovative project helping businesses look at how they can recover beyond the current crisis.”
Welsh Government has praised initiatives such as Neges which have shown ingenuity and adaptability – and meant that some businesses have been able to continue trading and adapt so that they continue to serve customers and support the NHS.