A social enterprise in North Wales has joined forces with a restaurant chain to make sure frontline NHS staff are fed during Covid-19.

Crest Co-operative and the Dylan’s restaurant group sprang into action after realising that NHS staff in North Wales would have no access to fresh food during the coronavirus pandemic.

After being awarded £20,000 by the Steve Morgan Foundation’s Covid-19 Emergency Fund the partnership pledged to produce and distribute over 1,000 meals each week prepared by Dylan’s volunteer staff and distributed with the support of Crest’s team of volunteer drivers.

Jay Martin, strategic business development manager at Crest Co-operative, said they decided to take part after Covid-19 forced them to furlough 27 of their 30 staff.

“We’re a not-for-profit organisation and have been in existence for 22 years,” said Jay. “We were set up originally to help disabled and unemployed people increase their skills and gain employment.

“Over the years we’ve developed and saw the potential for the social sector to deliver recycling services with the ultimate aim of becoming a self-sustaining social enterprise.”

Llandudno Junction-based Crest Co-operative recycle everything from textiles, electrical goods and furniture and operate a number of contracts on behalf of several local authorities.

The social enterprise had grown its turnover to £1m but when Covid-19 struck they were prevented from going to people’s houses to pick up unwanted items so they had to furlough most of their workforce.

It was at this stage that he was approached by David Evans, co-founder of Dylan’s, who’d been forced to close his restaurants during the pandemic and they teamed up to feed frontline NHS staff in local hospitals.

Jay said: “Staff working in ICU and A&E were struggling to get fresh food because the hospital canteens had closed. David agreed to prepare the food and provide the vans and we sourced the volunteer drivers.

“The challenge was paying for the food, which is where the Steve Morgan Foundation stepped in with £20,000. That grant enabled us to attract another £5,000 and commit to provide 12,500 meals over 12 weeks.

“The meals range from packed lunches to ready meals in microwavable dishes. By using local companies who have kindly supplied ingredients at costwe’re able to keep our costs to a minimum. Some of the thank you messages we’ve had from staff have been really gratifying and we couldn’t have done it without the Steve Morgan Foundation.”

Crest Co-operative has also been awarded another  £20,000 from the Steve Morgan Foundation to support the salaries of the staff still working to provide emergency furniture and white goods to vulnerable people in the community.

Steve Morgan, founder of the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “I can’t think of a better example of two organisations coming together to help others. It’s teamwork at its best.”

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