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Conwy charity plans for social supermarket to help people struggling to afford food

Conwy County Council

PEOPLE struggling to afford food could soon be helped by a ‘social’ supermarket in Colwyn Bay.

Adferiad Recovery has submitted a planning application to Conwy County Council’s planning committee, seeking permission to convert Porter’s Coffee Shop and Bistro into a social supermarket.

If it gets the go-ahead the site at 41-43 Station Road, Colwyn Bay, will be managed by the St Giles charity.

Porter’s is currently managed by drug and alcohol charity Adferiad Recovery (formerly CAIS), which is opting to close the café due to a declining number of customers.

Porter’s Coffee Shop and Bistro was granted planning permission nearly eleven years ago as a social enterprise, offering catering training to people recovering from drug and alcohol issues.

But according to the application, staff employed by the cafe would be retained and work from CAIS’ other cafe at Colwyn Leisure Centre in Eirias Park.

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Adferiad Recovery says the café has struggled financially since the COVID pandemic. The supporting information in the the application stated: “The business has experienced a significant decline in yearly earnings, and the current state of affairs does not indicate any improvement in the near future.

“More and more businesses have closed in the area, and the footfall along Station Road has declined significantly over the past two years.

“Additionally, the ongoing crisis with the increased cost of living has left the general public with a much lower level of disposable income.”

According to the planning application, the supermarket would employ one full-time member of staff and would be open seven days a week between 10am and 6pm.

Dubbed ‘The Pantry’ the social supermarket would help those struggling to afford food.

St Giles Trust, a charity helping people facing adversity, will run the social supermarket. They have similar schemes in London, Leeds, and Coventry.

The planning application submitted by Cadnant Planning explained how the business would operate.

“The social supermarket would offer high-quality, nutritious, and healthy food to those who are struggling to feed themselves and their families,” it said.

“Those struggling would be able to subscribe to the service for a very low fee (£3.50 per week), which would allow for one scheduled visit to the social supermarket per weekend allow for them to fill one basket of produce (such as meat, food, cupboard essentials, fresh fruit, and vegetables, etc.).

“A colour coding system would be imposed to limit the number of items that can be accessed from each category of food.”

A spokeswoman for Adferiad Recovery/CAIS said: “As a charity focused on supporting those with complex life challenges, we continue to review and model our services around the needs of those living in our local communities. As such, we can confirm that CAIS Social Enterprises is not pulling out of Colwyn Bay.

“We remain an integral part of Adferiad Recovery, one of Wales’ leading health and social care charities. The organisation moved their head office to Colwyn Bay during the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2020 and has gone on to create and sustain a large number of jobs in the area as a result.

“We will continue to run our Porter’s site at Eirias Leisure Centre as well as our meeting rooms for hire and outside catering from our Station Road site. The social supermarket is part of our continued commitment to the prosperity of the town and revitalisation of Station Road.”