DESPITE the lockdown, Noddfa Church in Abersychan is continuing its work at the heart of the northern Torfaen community.

The church is providing around 100 food parcels every week, thanks to its partnership with Food Share and local supermarkets.

A team of volunteers help deliver the food parcels, including local councillors and MP Nick Thomas-Symonds.

“We deliver about 50 food parcels each week, and have about another 50 come in and collect them from the church,” said Pastor John, from the church.

“We are able to keep going thanks to our volunteers.

“We have a number of partners in the area. We are working with Food Share from Tesco in Pontypool and Asda in Brynmawr where they are donating food which is past its sell-by date, but not its use-by date.

“We have also had a huge donation from B&M bargains, as well as a number of local bakeries, and local people who have chickens have been donating eggs.

“We also have church members bringing in donations from their shops, and we have had donations from councillors too, as well as donations of sanitary products and toiletries as well.”

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(Councillor Giles Davies and Nick Thomas-Symonds MP helping deliver food parcels from Noddfa Church. Picture: Noddfa Church.)

As well as providing aid for its community, the church has also evolved its usual services to fit in with lockdown life.

Services are now streamed online via the church’s Youtube channel and Facebook page, and interactive content is posted online every day.

“Before the lockdown we would usually welcome around a hundred people every Sunday to the church but this has since doubled online," said Pastor John. "We are thrilled to see so many join us.

“The lockdown has allowed people to pause from their busy lives and focus on what is really important and for many this means church.

“There are thousands of anxious and isolated people in our valley who are looking for the hope that we have.

“It’s bringing lots of people to the church that wouldn’t normally have come here.

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(Members of Noddfa Church have been posting online to keep the community connected. Picture: Noddfa Church.)

“On Friday I do a question and answer session, where people can ask all the contentious questions about religion.

“For example, we’ve had questions like 'Does science disprove religion' and 'Why God would allow things like the coronavirus?'

“On Mondays, our band stream Christian songs, and we have a bible quiz night every week.

“We have something online every day. It keeps us together as a community allows people to have that connection and have that interaction that we are all missing at the moment.

“I’ve been holding RE lessons on Zoom for children at Garnteg and Blaenavon Heritage schools. I tell them a Bible story and then we do an activity.

“Last week, we did Jonah and the Whale, which teaches a message of forgiveness, so afterwards the children made posters asking their parents for forgiveness for if they have misbehaved during their home-schooling.”

Pastor John urged Torfaen residents to stay safe, respect the lockdown measures and to not be afraid to ask for help if they are in need.