'There will always be people who need help'

Manorbier Castle, near Tenby, Pembrokeshire, south Wales.

Laura Marks spent her staycation at Manorbier, Wales - Credit: PA Images

Utterly confused and baffled by the constantly changing travel traffic light system (which makes the four-way temporary traffic lights in Camden seem like simplicity itself) we abandoned any plans of going abroad and headed off to staycation in west Wales.

My friend Tricia kindly lent us her house and with instructions on bracing walks, castles to visit, and restaurants likely to have a space, we set off on the five hour drive.

As expected, it certainly felt like a million miles away from north London – bright blue skies, wide open beaches with sand, pebbles, and endlessly fascinating rock pools, slightly terrifying walks on cliffs with a different view round each bend.

We happily explored the traditional seaside town of Tenby and enjoyed delicious home-made food at the local Tea Break cafe. Of course, there were some similarities to NW1; Netflix for our evenings, a supermarket delivery with the staples and a determination to do as little cooking as possible.

Laura Marks OBE

Laura Marks avoided the confusing travel traffic lights - Credit: Laura Marks

But one similarity was unexpected. Visiting St James’s Norman Church in the village of Manorbier where we were staying, pinned to a post was a sign for the local food bank, PATCH.


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The handwritten note read “Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship”, asking us to place any goods we could spare in the black box in the village shop.

The church's reverend Sharon, who writes a "Thought for the Day’ every day and runs an online service weekly, felt present, even though the church itself was locked that day.

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During the pandemic, even more than before, we have all been aware of the challenges faced by people losing their jobs, caring for sick and elderly relatives and neighbours and trying to connect with people who were, and are still, self-isolating.

We are far from out of the crisis and this reminder, in this seemingly idyllic spot in Wales reinforced the message that there will always be people who need help.

Returning today to Camden and unpacking my boxes of fudge, trinkets and groceries we didn’t eat or need, I am mindfully packing up a bag to take to our own local food bank in Primrose Hill. Distance is illusionary, need and kindness travel well.

Laura Marks is founder of Mitzvah Day, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and an interfaith consultant - commongood.uk.com

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