Archive for the ‘social enterprise’ Category
Christmas is the busiest time of the year at Menter Fachwen. It all begins as soon as the blackberries are ripe enough to pick, we need to pick pounds and pounds to make jam for the Christmas hampers, and this season there was a bumper crop so that gave us a good start. This year we have focused on the quality and presentation of our Christmas products; we wanted to get the look just right. The theme for 2013 was re-cycle, re-use and up-cycle whatever we could. Christmas 2012 was a bit of a disaster, on November 22nd three of our businesses were flooded, this put a stop to a lot of the planned festivities, but we are not the kind of organisation to cry over spilt milk, or even six inches of mud as it was in our case. We rescued whatever we could from the floods, which included the old pine floorboards that ran throughout the ground floor of our shop in Llanberis.
The floor at Caxton House was damaged beyond repair and had to be ripped out. The joinery business, Craig y s usually 101 things you can make This year they have made beautiful bird and bug houses from wood that would have otherwise been destined for landfill. Ty Gwydr, our horticulture business, has been collecting all sorts of strange objects including empty catering size tins from a local hotel, after a bit of imagination and decoration they look gorgeous filled with bulbs that were planted up in the autumn. We rescued some old tea cups from the skip at a disused community centre they are now home to small plants hanging from homemade macramé hangers, how’s that for a bit of retro up-cycling? Everyone was included in the preparations; we grow a lot of our own fruit and vegetables. We have an allotment, a large poly-tunnel and small garden.
We grow blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries and rhubarb, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and garlic. It’s a real community effort, we have great contacts in the villages, every year we are invited to pick perfectly good fruit that would otherwise just fall from the trees. We were asked to pick apples, pears, plums and quinces from our neighbour’s gardens. These were turned into the jams, chutney and pickles that fill the hampers we sell at local Christmas Fairs. It’s not all jams and chutneys; at Cafe Padarn in Fachwen they have been making luxury Christmas puddings. These sell well in the cafe and at the Christmas Fairs; Sally has made over 100 this year. Caban y Cwm Cafe in Cwm y Glo will have made 1,200 mince pies by the time Christmas comes . . . . . . . . They won’t just be just any old mince pies though; they will be Menter Fachwen mince pies, filled to the top with mincemeat. Some will be topped with cranberries or marzipan, orange crumble, almonds, lemon icing or a mouth watering mix of the above.
On the 10th of December, at E.B’s cafe in Deiniolen, they will be hosting a Christmas dinner for 25 regular customers. I know they are looking forward to a slap up feast. It’s all go at Christmas, and this is just a tiny snapshot of what’s going on at Menter Fachwen this year. Details of ‘what’s on’ at Menter Fachwen and how to join in the fun or buy any of our products can be found on our website www.menterfachwen.org.uk. You can also call us on 01286 872 014.
The organisation featured in this blog post is just one of many that you can support. Many more can be found on our Go Full Circle directory. Happy Christmas and ‘buy social’ J
Jeff Cuthbert AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, laid out a clear challenge to the Third Sector in his keynote address to the WCVA Conference in Llandudno today.
Explaining the context of severe financial pressures and an increasing demand for service, the Minister said that the challenges facing us are very real. This means that every pound spent on Third Sector organisations has to count. There is a clear need to demonstrate more clearly the impact of Third Sector spending, looking explicitly at outcomes in terms of policy, particularly tackling poverty.
The Minister also set out expectations about a regional dimension to Third Sector collaboration, encouraging work across local authority boundaries from next year. But this is not in itself going to produce the shift towards a results-based service delivery model for the sector. The issue here is governance. The challenge is how the boards and executives of Third Sector organisations can ensure their survival by demonstrating the value of their work in terms that the government will understand. Partly this is about describing what we do in new terms but part is also about fundamental change.
The Wales Co-operative Centre provides support to social businesses to help them survive, thrive and grow, benefiting the sector, the economy and the communities of Wales. A key part of this support is for governance, which is the glue that sets the social purpose of the organisations we work with. The need for this sort of support will increase as the impact of public sector austerity becomes more pronounced.
As we near the end of our Tackling Poverty Fortnight campaign, we’ve received a guest blog post from Ellen Petts, MD of Greenstream Flooring CIC. Ellen’s post provides an insight into how her business, based in Porth, has a positive impact on poverty:
Although I am no expert on the complex issues of why we in Wales have even one person ‘living in poverty’, I’m pretty opinionated and do know what we at Greenstream Flooring CIC do, in our small way, to try and alleviate some of the harshness of actually living in poverty.
The story of Greenstream Flooring CIC, is a story which really shouldn’t exist. Why is it that an ‘intelligent’ species has got itself in a position where it accepts that on one hand it wastes vast amounts of valuable materials, including food, and on the other hand large numbers of people are living in poverty, don’t want or can’t access this abundance of ‘waste’ material, including the humble carpet tile – our bag?
Only this week Tesco announced it wasted 30,000 tonnes of food in the first six months of this year. Just because some ‘Eurocrat’ somewhere has decreed so called ‘sell-by / use by’ dates, you’re not telling me that no less than 50% of that food wasn’t edible? In the humble world of the carpet tile, enormous amounts of carbon and energy is put into making a product that is indestructible and yet, a few years later, vast energy is also put into trying to destroy it, either via reprocessing, burning or burying it!
In my experience, simply getting hold of an otherwise wasted material (carpet tiles in our case) re-cleaning and re-grading it and then selling it, at a fraction of the cost of new, is not only creating employment but it’s also creating the basic warmth, sound–proofing, insulation and dignity that everyone should have in a so called ‘developed society’. When food’s hard enough to buy then the warmth and comfort provided by carpet is simply too much of a luxury for lots of people!
I’m sure I’m over simplifying the situation but giving materials a second life is, as far as my experience, a real opportunity for community regeneration through ‘repair, re-distribution and re-sale’. Be it food, washing machines, curtains or our stuff – the humble carpet tiles, what we need is two things to happen.
Firstly I would like to see a concerted effort in Wales to help develop the re-use sector, to help the sector develop more material streams and more facilities. A ‘waste to wealth’ campaign, that identifies a number of key materials which are and have the potential for local ‘wealth creation’ and then supports communities to develop the potential of those materials, is what’s called for first. Real local regeneration outputs of creating training and employment are possible, however small, in the job of helping to alleviate the symptoms of poverty. We and other re-use groups in Wales are sustainable businesses, via the valid re-use of otherwise wasted materials for local benefit, be it food, furniture or even carpet tiles.
Secondly, in a world where charity shops, eBay and the like are abundant, do low income people have the will or the tools to find cheaper second hand goods? If you haven’t got transport and you don’t have the internet your options are limited to your local convenience store and whichever hawk comes knocking on your door. In our case, people can buy three grades of re-used carpet tile, A to C, with the prices as low as 30p per tile, £1.20 per m2, we are even happy to donate carpets (www.homeliferange.co.uk) . However I’m not convinced we are reaching more than a fraction of the people that really need us. So how do we reach those people before the door-stop hawk? Maybe another campaign is the answer along the lines of ‘second is not second best’, would help. Signposting people to their good quality local second hand store before going to the lengths of getting a door-step loan to buy new would surely have some impact.
Anyway, we at Greenstream try and provide some of the warmth, comfort and basic dignity that carpets provides. Regardless of people’s income, everyone deserves to keep warm and insulated where they live especially when the carpet in question would otherwise be thrown out!
Here, guest blogger Bridget Lafferty tells us about the incredible work of her social enterprise, Tyfu Café in Caerphilly:
Tyfu is a social enterprise café based in the centre of Caerphilly.It is a vibrant, busy café which serves delicious, nutritious homemade food to our local community. The main purpose of Tyfu is to provide marginalised people the opportunity to gain work experience, skills and confidence in a real working environment and to reintegrate into the wider community. Service users who have come to the end of their treatment with Drugaid are offered the chance to work at Tyfu for 6 months, during which time they will receive support and training to improve their skills and confidence in a number of areas, including food preparation and service, and customer interaction.
We have been open since April 2012 and have successfully employed 14 volunteers, 3 of whom have since been offered the opportunity of paid employment.
Our aim is to provide healthy, nutritious, homemade food that is, where possible, sourced locally and that literally does not cost the earth.
Our ethos is to cook seasonally whenever possible, which means our daily specials use fruit and vegetables that are readily available and at their best for the time of year. By buying produce locally we support small businesses within our own community. We keep our menu reasonably priced in order to offer the chance of eating delicious wholesome foods to those who may otherwise miss out.
We also do everything possible to recycle our waste and reduce our carbon footprint.
It is the ideal place to meet friends and relax, enjoy good food or wile away an hour with an excellent coffee in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Yma mae’r blogiwr gwadd, Bridget Lafferty, yn dweud wrthyn ni am waith anhygoel ei menter gymdeithasol hi, Caffi Tyfu yng Nghaerffili:
Caffi menter gymdeithasol ydy Tyfu sydd yng nghanol Caerffili. Mae’n gaffi bywiog, prysur sy’n gweini bwyd cartref blasus, maethlon i’n cymuned leol. Prif bwrpas Tyfu ydy rhoi cyfle i bobl sydd wedi eu hymylu gael profiad gwaith, sgiliau a hyder mewn amgylchedd gwaith go iawn ac ail-integreiddio yn y gymuned ehangach. Mae defnyddwyr gwasanaeth sydd wedi dod i derfyn eu triniaeth gyda Drugaid yn cael cynnig y cyfle i weithio ynTyfu am 6 mis, ac yn y cyfnod hwn byddan nhw’n cael cefnogaeth a hyfforddiant i wella eu sgiliau a’u hyder mewn nifer o feysydd, gan gynnwys paratoi bwyd a gwasanaeth, a rhyngweithio â’r cwsmeriaid.
Rydyn ni ar agor ers ebrill 2012 ac wedi cyflogi 14 o wirfoddolwyr yn llwyddiannus, y mae 3 ohonyn nhw wedi cael cynnig cyfle cyflogaeth am dâl ers hynny.
Ein nod ydy darparu bwyd cartref iach, blasus, maethlon sy’n dod, lle bo’n bosibl, o ffynonellau lleol ac nad yw’n costio’r ddaear yn llythrennol.
Ein hethos ydy coginio’n dymhorol lle bynnag y bo modd, sy’n golygu bod yr eitemau arbennig ar y fwydlen o ddydd i ddydd yn defnyddio ffrwythau a llysiau sydd ar gael yn rhwydd ac ar eu gorau adeg yna’r flwyddyn. Drwy brynu cynnyrch yn lleol rydyn ni’n cefnogi busnesau bach o fewn ein cymuned ein hunain. Rydyn ni’n mynnu prisio’n fwydlen yn rhesymol er mwyn cynnig y cyfle i fwyta bwydydd blasus maethlon i’r sawl a fyddai efallai heb y cyfle fel arall.
Rydyn ni hefyd yn gwneud popeth y gallwn ni i ailgylchu’n gwastraff a lleihau’n hôl-troed carbon.
Dyma’r lle delfrydol i gwrdd â ffrindiau ac ymlacio, mwynhau bwyd da neu dreulio awr gyda choffi gwych mewn amgylchedd cynnes a chyfeillgar.
Cris Tomos – Robert Owen Co-operator of the year 2012 & Social Enterprise Champion Wales 2013 – has shared his story for Tackling Poverty Fortnight, to explain how a co-operative approach has benefited two West Wales communities:
When a group of local people wish to achieve change for the better, the co-operative community benefit model can result in great things. My story in West Wales began in 2006 when our community of Hermon faced the sad situation of losing its full to capacity village primary school as a result of local authority primary education restructuring. The village of Hermon is a small Welsh community and having lost its shop, post office, garage and the pub being closed for a period, there was little or no public meeting places left in the community. The decision was taken to try and buy the old school site and in 2007 an Industrial & Provident Society (IPS) was formed as a community benefit co-operative. Much support was given by the Co-operatives UK team in Manchester and a constitution agreed and submitted to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) who registered new IPS Companies.
A board of directors was created and we consulted with the community about the level of share price we should aim for. The price was set at £250 per share; we also considered the important issue of including all the community and not having people financially excluded. Having been involved with the setting up of the local Credit Union, our local community financial co-operative, I discussed with the board of the Credit Union about a special shares loan, to allow people to borrow the £250 over 3 years. All agreed it was a great idea thus allowing individuals to repay the share loan at £8.31 a month for 36 months. The share issue documents were distributed and within 4 months we had raised £50,000. With additional fundraising the community put down the deposit for the site. Additional grant applications resulted in the community signing the legal documents and purchasing the site by February 2008.
The community groups have flocked to the new community owned site which is knows as Canolfan Hermon. Within 24 months the number of groups had grown and the number of people within the groups had increased dramatically, as the old Victorian school was too small. Further Big Lottery and Welsh Government bids were submitted and in January 2011 a sum of £450,000 was clinched to develop a new 250 capacity hall with first floor conference rooms and office units. The new timber frame, eco friendly building with solar PV and thermal and air source under floor heating was ready for its first booking in December 2012. To see details about Canolfan Hermon please view www.canolfanhermon.org.uk
From the experiences of the share offer in my home village I was asked to attend a meeting in the nearby town of Cardigan where local people wished to purchase a large redundant area in the centre of Cardigan. There were 2 car parks, 4 store sheds, 2 shops and a house. I explained the process of setting up a Community Benefit Co-operative and all were in agreement that they wished to proceed and try and buy the site. A media campaign and share offer was launched in July 2010. By December 2010 the community co-operative had raised £210,000 in shares, with over 500 shareholders ensuring that the site was now in the possession on the local community. Once again the local Credit Union played an important part, as they had their head office in Cardigan Town. The Credit Union office acted as recipients of the share application forms and banked all the share funds until the new IPS called 4CG Ltd was formed. Since 2010 the new 4CG company has achieved great results in providing low cost parking to help support town traders, has gone on to buy further property such as the old police station, the old court house and old flats that will be changed into tourism bunk house provision. Details of the Cardigan town developments can be viewed on www.4cg.org.uk
Currently on the plans are new co-operatives for community energy and for community affordable housing and business units. It is clear to see that the Credit Union has played a crucial part and with the planned new development there will again be an opportunity for people to borrow from West Wales Credit Union. The Credit Union has expanded considerably from its base in Cardigan and now covers the counties of Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. Further details can be viewed on www.wwcu.co.uk . These examples of co-operatives working together in such a manner can result in positive outcomes for individuals, communities and society in general. Long may the collaboration continue!
Mae Cris Tomos – enillydd gwobr Cydweithredwr y Flwyddyn Robert Owen 2012 a Hyrwyddwr Mentrau Cymdeithasol Cymru 2013 – wedi rhannu’i stori ar gyfer Pythefnos Trechu Tlodi i egluro sut y mae dwy gymuned yng Ngorllewin Cymru wedi elwa ar y dull cydweithredol:
Pan fo grŵp o bobl leol yn dymuno cyflawni newid er gwell, gall y model cydweithredol budd i’r gymuned arwain at bethau gwych. Dechreuodd fy stori yng Ngorllewin Cymru yn 2006 pan roedd ein cymuned yn Hermon yn wynebu’r sefyllfa drist o golli ei hysgol gynradd yn y pentref a oedd yn llawn i’r ymylon o ganlyniad i ailstrwythuro addysg gynradd gan yr awdurdod lleol. Mae pentref Hermon yn gymuned fach Gymreig ac ar ôl colli’r siop, swyddfa’r post, y garej a chau’r dafarn am gyfnod, nid oedd dim neu fawr ddim o leoedd cyfarfod yn weddill yn y gymuned. Gwnaethpwyd y penderfyniad i roi cynnig ar brynu hen safle’r ysgol ac yn 2007 ffurfiwyd Cymdeithas Ddiwydiannol a Darbodus (IPS) fel menter gydweithredol budd i’r gymuned. Cafwyd llawer o gymorth gan dîm Co-operatives UK ym Manceinion a chytunwyd ar gyfansoddiad a’i gyflwyno i’r Awdurdod Gwasanaethau Ariannol sy’n cofrestru Cwmnïau IPS newydd.
Crëwyd bwrdd o gyfarwyddwyr a gwnaethom ymgynghori â’r gymuned am lefel pris y cyfranddaliadau y dylem anelu amdani. Gosodwyd pris o £250 am bob cyfranddaliad; gwnaethom hefyd ystyried y mater pwysig o gynnwys yr holl gymuned a pheidio ag eithrio pobl yn ariannol. Gan y bûm yn rhan o sefydlu’r Undeb Credyd lleol, ein menter gydweithredol ariannol gymunedol leol, trafodais â bwrdd yr Undeb Credyd fenthyciad cyfranddaliadau arbennig i alluogi pobl i fenthyg y £250 dros 3 blynedd. Cytunodd pawb ei fod yn syniad ardderchog gan felly ganiatáu unigolion i ad-dalu’r benthyciad am y cyfranddaliad ar £8.31 y mis am 36 mis. Dosbarthwyd dogfennau’r cyfranddaliadau a chyn pen 4 mis roeddem wedi casglu £50,000. Yna gwnaeth y gymuned, ar ôl codi rhagor o arian, gyflwyno’r blaendal am y safle. Yn sgil derbyn rhagor o arian trwy geisiadau grant, gwnaeth y gymuned lofnodi’r dogfennau cyfreithiol a phrynu’r safle erbyn mis Chwefror 2008.
Mae’r grwpiau cymunedol wedi heidio i’r safle newydd sy’n eiddo i’r gymuned a elwir yn Ganolfan Hermon. Cyn pen 24 mis roedd nifer y grwpiau wedi tyfu ac roedd nifer y bobl yn y grwpiau hyn wedi tyfu’n sylweddol, gan fod yr hen ysgol Fictoraidd yn rhy fach. Cyflwynwyd ceisiadau pellach i’r Loteri Fawr ac i Lywodraeth Cymru ac ym mis Ionawr 2011 cafwyd £450,000 i ddatblygu neuadd newydd â’r capasiti i ddal 250 gydag ystafelloedd cynadledda ac unedau swyddfa ar y llawr cyntaf. Roedd yr adeilad ecogyfeillgar newydd a chanddo ffrâm goed a phaneli solar a ffynonellau thermal ac aer i wresogi tan y llawr yn barod i’w logi am y tro cyntaf ym mis Rhagfyr 2012. I gael manylion am Ganolfan Hermon, ewch i http://www.canolfanhermon.org.uk
O achos fy mhrofiadau gyda chynnig cyfranddaliadau yn fy mhentref, gofynnwyd i mi fynd i gyfarfod yn nhref gyfagos Aberteifi lle’r oedd y bobl leol yn dymuno prynu ardal fawr wag yng nghanol Aberteifi. Roedd 2 faes parcio, 4 sied storio, 2 siop a thŷ. Eglurais y broses o sefydlu Menter Gydweithredol Budd i’r Gymuned ac roedd pawb yn cytuno yr oeddent am barhau a cheisio prynu’r safle. Lansiwyd ymgyrch yn y cyfryngau a’r cynnig cyfranddaliadau ym mis Gorffennaf 2010. Erbyn mis Rhagfyr 2010 roedd menter gydweithredol y gymuned wedi codi £210,000 trwy’r cyfranddaliadau, gyda dros 500 o randdeiliaid yn sicrhau bod y safle bellach ym meddiant y gymuned leol. Unwaith eto, gwnaeth yr Undeb Credyd lleol chwarae rhan bwysig gan fod ei brif swyddfa yn nhref Aberteifi. Bu swyddfa’r Undeb Credyd yn ganolfan ar gyfer derbyn ffurflenni cais y cyfranddaliadau a gwnaeth fancio holl arian y cyfranddaliadau nes y ffurfiwyd yr IPS newydd o’r enw 4CG. Er 2010 mae’r cwmni newydd 4CG wedi cyflawni canlyniadau gwych o ran darparu parcio rhad i helpu i gefnogi masnachwyr y dref, ac mae wedi mynd ymlaen i brynu rhagor o eiddo megis yr hen orsaf heddlu, yr hen dŷ llys a hen fflatiau a fydd yn cael eu newid yn ddarpariaeth byncws i dwristiaid. I gael manylion am y datblygiadau yn nhref Aberteifi, ewch i http://www.4cg.org.uk.
Ar hyn o bryd mae cynlluniau ar gyfer mentrau cydweithredol newydd ar gyfer ynni cymunedol a thai fforddiadwy ac unedau busnes cymunedol. Mae’n amlwg bod yr Undeb Credyd wedi chwarae rhan hanfodol a bydd cyfle eto gyda’r datblygiad newydd arfaethedig i bobl fenthyg gan Undeb Credyd Gorllewin Cymru. Mae’r Undeb Credyd wedi ehangu’n sylweddol o’i ganolfan yn Aberteifi ac mae bellach yn ymestyn dros Geredigion, Sir Benfro a Sir Gaerfyrddin. Gallwch gael rhagor o wybodaeth ar http://www.wwcu.co.uk. Gall yr enghreifftiau hyn o fentrau cydweithredol yn cydweithio mewn modd o’r fath arwain at ganlyniadau cadarnhaol i unigolion, cymunedau a’r gymdeithas yn gyffredinol. Hir oes i’r cydweithio hwn!
Dros y pedwar diwrnod ar ddeg nesaf, mae Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru’n eich gwahodd i ymuno mewn sgwrs am dlodi yng Nghymru, a’r hyn sy’n gweithio i’w drechu, neu o leiaf leihau ei effaith.
Nid yw’r penawdau’n dda. Mae’r economi’n ddifywyd. Rydym yng nghanol yr ad-drefnu mwyaf i’r system fudd-daliadau mewn 60 mlynedd. Mae gwariant cyhoeddus yn cael ei leihau tra mae’r angen am wasanaethau cyhoeddus yn cynyddu. Mae rhai pobl yn colli eu swyddi ac mae eraill yn wynebu lleihad yn eu horiau neu mae eu cyflog yn rhewi. Mae prisiau, yn enwedig prisiau ynni, yn parhau i godi. Mae’r digwyddiadau hyn yn cael effaith gronnus ar deuluoedd a chymunedau yng Nghymru, ac yn aml tlodi yw’r canlyniad.
Eto, ymysg hyn i gyd ceir llwyddiannau go iawn: straeon am fentrau’n cael eu cefnogi i greu swyddi yn ein cymunedau mwyaf difreintiedig, straeon am bobl yn cael help i gael gwaith er gwaethaf pob disgwyl. Straeon am bobl yn cael y grym i arbed arian ac osgoi dyledion. Byddwn yn adrodd rhai o’r straeon hyn dros y pythefnos nesaf.
Er enghraifft, mae Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru’n darparu cymorth i bobl sydd wedi’u heithrio’n ddigidol, trwy arwain rhaglen Cymunedau 2.0 Llywodraeth Cymru. Gall mynd ar-lein a datblygu sgiliau digidol agor drysau i fydoedd na’u dychmygwyd. Ymysg pethau eraill, rydym wedi helpu cannoedd o bobl i symud ymlaen yn y farchnad swyddi, a byddwn yn clywed gan rai ohonynt dros y pythefnos hwn. Mae’r Ganolfan hefyd yn gweithio i hyrwyddo Cynhwysiant Ariannol, er enghraifft trwy gefnogi pobl mewn perygl o golli eu cartref. Rydym yn eu helpu i reoli eu harian yn fwy effeithiol ac osgoi mynd i ddyledion.
Mae ein gwaith gyda mentrau cymdeithasol yn bennaf yn targedu’r rhai a chanddynt y potensial i dyfu a chreu rhagor o swyddi. Rydym wedi gweithio gyda chleientiaid ar draws Cymru gan ennill cydnabyddiaeth genedlaethol am ein gwaith diweddar gydag AFS yn Abertawe, a ddarparodd gyflogaeth gynaliadwy i gyn weithwyr Remploy. Mae’r swyddi a grëwyd o ganlyniad i’n gwaith yn gyfleoedd cyflogaeth o safon, ac mae’r arian a wneir gan y mentrau sy’n cyflogi’n aros yn y gymuned leol.
Mae effaith tlodi ar bobl yng Nghymru’n ei gwneud yn anaddas i alw’r gyfres hon o straeon llwyddiant yn ddathliad. Mae, fodd bynnag, yn gydnabyddiaeth bod rhai pethau’n gweithio a bod pobl yn elwa o ganlyniad.
Edrychwn ymlaen at gael eich ymateb ac i glywed eich straeon. Gallwch wneud sylwadau ar y blogiau, neu ddefnyddio #povertyinwales ar Twitter.
Over the next fourteen days, the Wales Co-operative Centre is inviting you to join a conversation about poverty in Wales, and what works to overcome it, or at least reduce its impact.
The headlines aren’t good. The economy is flat-lining. We have the biggest shake-up to the benefits system in 60 years. Public spending is being cut whilst the need for public services is rising. Some people are losing their jobs whilst others are facing pay freezes or reductions to their hours. Prices, especially energy prices, continue to rise. These events have a cumulative impact on families and communities in Wales, and poverty is often the consequence.
Yet amongst all of this there are real successes: stories of enterprises supported to create jobs in our most deprived communities, stories of people helped into work against the odds. Stories of people empowered to save money and avoid debt. We will be telling some of thesestories over the next couple of weeks.
For example, the Wales Co-operative Centre provides support to people who are digitally excluded, through leading the Welsh Government’s Communities 2.0 programme. Getting online and developing digital skills can open doors to unimagined worlds. Amongst other things, we have helped hundreds of people progress in the jobs market, and we will hear from some of them this fortnight. The Centre also works to promote Financial Inclusion, for example by supporting people at risk of homelessness. We help them manage their money more effectively and avoid debt.
Our work with social enterprises specifically targets those with the potential to grow and create more jobs. We have worked with clients across Wales, getting national recognition for our recent work with AFS in Swansea, which provided sustainable employment for former Remploy workers. The jobs created as a result of our work are quality employment opportunities, and the money made by the employing enterprises stays in the local community.
The impact of poverty on people in Wales makes it inappropriate to call this series of success stories a celebration. It is, however, an acknowledgement that some things are working and that people are benefiting as a result.
We look forward to your response, to hearing your stories. You can comment on the blog posts, or use #povertyinwales on Twitter.
Written by MarkWalesCooperative
October 28, 2013 at 8:17 am
This week the Welsh Government’s Minister for Economy, Science and Transport announced two new business rates schemes. The announcement follows the Business Rates Review led by Professor Brian Morgan. The Welsh Government also recently ran a consultation on the business rates relief available to charities and social enterprises. This explored whether rate reliefs should be made available to social enterprises which are not currently eligible. You can read our response to this consultation on our website. The Minister said that she is still analysing the evidence with regards to social enterprises and is discussing the recommendations concerning relief levels for charities and social enterprises with the UK Government and other devolved administrations.
Based on our experience of working with social enterprises, we believe that providing rate relief to social enterprises would be a positive step. It would mean that social enterprises and credit unions throughout Wales would be given the same economic advantage as registered charities. Social enterprises are businesses that are driven primarily by social objectives, where generated surpluses are reinvested for the social purpose, either in the business or the wider community. They seek to create employment and contribute to the local economy. Rate relief will support social enterprises to grow and develop and so maximise their impact on the local community.
Currently, social enterprises using the Company Limited by Guarantee legal model can also register as a Charitable Company. This allows them to access the trust funds available to charitable organisations and to gain rate relief from the local authority. But this approach has disadvantages for social enterprises. One of the drawbacks of charitable registration is that the legal form restricts the freedom to trade. It could also mean that social enterprises are less able to be entrepreneurial and react to changing market opportunities.
If rate relief is granted to social enterprises, we believe that there should be a strengthened definition of social enterprise. Social enterprises should fit the definition and characteristics of social enterprise laid down in the Welsh Government’s Social Enterprise Strategy for Wales in 2005. But the social ownership element of social enterprises should also be seen as a key characteristic in their definition. We would suggest five key characteristics for a revised definition of social enterprises:
1. They have a social, environmental, community or ethical purpose;
2. They operate using a commercial business model;
3. They have a legal form appropriate to ‘not-for-personal-profit’ status;
4. They will ensure that the people who benefit from the business will have a stake in its ownership and involvement in its governance;
5. They have a secure ‘asset lock’.
A robust definition of social enterprise that covers their key characteristics would help prevent misuse by other businesses claiming to be social enterprises.
Written by ceriannefidler
October 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm
Posted in social enterprise
Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, looks at how digital inclusion, financial inclusion and social enterprise support work together to protect people from poverty and to mitigate against its impact.
Today is the launch of Get Swansea Online, a local initiative that aims to help Swansea’s estimated 45,000 digitally excluded residents to use the internet. This is the latest in a series of initiatives brokered by Communities 2.0, the Welsh Government digital inclusion project.
At yesterday’s launch of another initiative, Get Merthyr Tydfil Online, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty Jeff Cuthbert congratulated Communities 2.0 on its collaborative and partnership led approach. He emphasised the importance of helping people to get online and use the internet to save money and to find jobs. He stated that “digital exclusion compounds isolation” and said that Get Merthyr Tydfil Online has the potential to “reach the most digitally and financially excluded citizens” in the county. Last week the Minister visited a similar initiative in the Caia Park area of Wrexham. The political will is certainly there to ensure that everyone in Wales has access to the internet and the skills to use it effectively in the fight against poverty – but there is still more to be done.
We are very lucky here in the Wales Co-operative Centre. Through our work as lead partner of Communities 2.0, and through our own projects on financial inclusion and social enterprise development, we see the positive improvements our interventions can bring to the lives of people in real danger of falling below the bread line. Across Wales we see people, helped by Communities 2.0 and our financial inclusion initiatives, gain IT skills and use those skills to get jobs and get out of debt. Communities 2.0 recently supported Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent MIND’s social enterprise arm ‘Training in MIND’ with an investment of nearly £5,000. The support will help pay for new laptop and desktop computers in their IT suite. The IT suite is manned by volunteers running drop-in sessions for people to update their IT skills and search for jobs. The organisation is currently setting up a work club for people who attend the centre. This is an excellent example of a social enterprise integrating digital inclusion and anti-poverty measures into its social aims and on the ground delivery.
At the Wales Co-operative Centre we also see the difference in our communities when they are engaged and enabled and can build social enterprises that reinvest their surpluses back into training and job creation. Galeri Caernarfon Cyf is a social enterprise that is focussed on regenerating the town of Caernarfon. Over the years it has regenerated properties and spaces in the town and opened up a highly successful arts centre. It now employs 36 full time equivalent jobs directly and supports over 40 in its tenant businesses. It is estimated that this one social enterprise has an economic impact of almost £1.3m to the economies of Gwynedd and Ynys Môn. In fact, Galeri is among just 6% of firms in Gwynedd that employ more than 25 people.
The Wales Co-operative Centre receives funding from a number of different sources to allow us to deliver our support work to communities across Wales. Our funders include the European Regional Development Fund, Welsh Government and the Oak Foundation.
This year, we have also led on a project which encourages individuals to use the services of local credit unions to help them ensure that their rent payment gets to their landlords – meaning that they can keep a roof over their own and their family’s heads. In Caerphilly, development staff are working directly with individuals to suggest ways in which they can use existing support and advice to make the money they have last longer.
We are also managing and promoting www.moneymadeclearwales.org which offers signposting to advice on saving and loans, debt and benefits. Access to digital resources is now intrinsically linked to good money management and to allowing individuals to take control of their own lives.
Financial and digital inclusion doesn’t just reduce isolation, but it allows freedom, liberty and empowerment. It allows individuals and groups to take their next steps forward – individually in the jobs market or as entrepreneurs, and collectively as empowered communities and social enterprises.
We believe that by integrating financial and digital inclusion with community engagement and real support for social enterprises and charities, it is possible to alleviate some of the poverty that currently exists in Wales. But, just as importantly, we believe that this sort of support is empowering. It allows people to make decisions about their own futures. It allows them to build their skills and their confidence and it empowers individuals to lift themselves out of poverty and stay out of it.
Written by davemadgecoop
September 24, 2013 at 3:52 pm
Tagged with co-operative, credit unions, debt, digital inclusion, ERDF, financial inclusion, get online, getting online, growth, internet, jobs, merthyr tydfil, oak foundation, skills, social enterprise, swansea, Tackling Poverty, Wales, web, welsh government, wrexham