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How flooding is affecting welsh communities

7 September, 2021
By Caspar Harris

Caspar Harris, Manager and Vice-chair of ‘Pete’s Shop Limited’ in Pontypridd, shares first hand how climate change is affecting Welsh communities.

When I opened the shutter to our shop on a Febuary morning of 2020 my heart sank as I saw the devastation which was caused by the worst flooding that Pontypridd has seen in living memory. Most of our stock, fixture and fittings had been destroyed by the rivers Rhondda and Taff which burst their banks, wrecking homes and businesses.

This happened at an important time in our shop’s history. The previous owner, Peter Lenaghan had died the previous year and a group of us were in the process of purchasing the shop to relaunch as a Cooperative.

The shop was founded in 1981 by brothers Peter and John Lengahan as a market stall selling wholefoods, spices and ingredients which were hard to find in the valleys at that time. There was always a strong desire to be as ethical as possible by sourcing stock from worker’s Cooperatives and selling at a fair price. As the shop grew, Peter began running the shop on his own, moving into a whole shop unit.

I had helped Peter run the shop and after his death in 2019 got together with six other local people to keep the shop going in the spirit of serving the community and turn it into a Community Benefit Society- a form of cooperative. It was at this point that the floods hit.

The effects of climate change have always been evident to us through our supply chain with foods that we sell fluctuating or becoming unavailable in price as changing weather patterns affects crops. But this was the first time that we had been hit directly by such extreme weather.

We have now successfully relaunched the shop from the ground up and named it ‘Pete’s Shop’ after the founder. We have moved to a new location in the town centre and are rooted in the community selling wholefoods, vegetarian and vegan foods, world foods, local produce, and plastic free foods and toiletries, and homebrewing equipment. The aim is to provide the opportunity for people living in a post-industrial working-class area the opportunity of accessing goods which are environmentally friendly and ethically sourced.

But we cannot depend on small or even large businesses to solve the climate and ecological crisis- governments need to take radical action to avert the worst scenario and this is why we are part of part of the Climate Cymru network.

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