Wales Co-operative Centre

Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru

Posts Tagged ‘social enterprise

Reflecting on the last 12 months – part 2

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Earlier in the week, Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, started to look back on the last financial year and the work we had been involved with. We continue Derek’s review, by looking at how the Centre supports some of the most disadvantaged people and communities…

Jeff Cuthbert, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, with Tracy Olin of PATCH

Jeff Cuthbert, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, with Tracy Olin of PATCH

The work of the Centre is closely aligned with the wider tackling poverty agenda. In October we instigated an online campaign ‘Tackling Poverty Fortnight’ that not only received recognition in the Senedd, but demonstrated ways in which social enterprises and co-operative ways of working are supporting people in Wales’ most disadvantaged areas.

Our financial inclusion work continues to have an influence and impact in this area, particularly through our Tackling Homelessness through Financial Inclusion project. That team has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and increase the uptake of Credit Union Rent Accounts, which can help housing tenants, across private, social and council housing, to maintain their tenancies in the face of sweeping Welfare Reforms. This work benefits from close work relationships with housing providers and other partners. More recently, I did my own bit to raise awareness of the issues facing homeless people, in the inaugural Cardiff CEO Sleepout. That event reminded me of the value of our work, with those that need the greatest support.

The latest evaluation of our Social Enterprise Support Project was positive, including lines such as “satisfaction levels with Development Officers support is very high – ‘extremely’ or ‘very satisfied’ at 87%”. In this area of work, we also delivered another successful Social Enterprise Wales Conference and Awards and the new ‘Go Full Circle’ campaign that increased awareness raising of Welsh social enterprises among the general public. Last summer, Cardiff played host to the annual Co-operatives UK Congress that saw more than 300 co-operators come together, to debate issues that matter most to those in the sector.

Our Corporate Services have continued to strengthen the Centre’s corporate governance, financial processes, HR and ICT infrastructure – all vital work, while the Marketing team re-structure is providing a more effective approach to the way we promote our services and raising awareness of our work, that of our clients and the wider sector.

The last financial year also saw us intensify international links, with staff making trips to Africa, to support community enterprises, and participating in an exchange with representatives of the social enterprise sector in the Czech Republic. It is important to be involved with such activities, so we can promote the best of what Wales has to offer in terms of co-operative and social enterprise development, on the world stage, and so we can learn from best practice approaches in other countries.

Greeted by schoolchildren in Lesotho, where we supported community enterprises last year.

Greeted by schoolchildren in Lesotho, where we supported community enterprises last year.

While there is a rich diversity to our work, with many seemingly independent activities, one thing binds it together – a co-operative ethos that sees projects, initiatives, organisations, businesses and individuals getting more from working together. It’s at the heart of everything we do.

When you think about it, that’s some year…..and we haven’t covered everything in this blog post!

As we look ahead to the next twelve months, we know there are challenges ahead but we can meet them head on, with confidence. That confidence comes from the knowledge that we are a strong organisation, with experienced and innovative staff, that make a difference in communities around Wales every day of the week.

Reflecting on the last 12 months – part 1

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With the new financial year barely a week old, Derek Walker, our Chief Executive, has taken the opportunity to look back on the last twelve months at the Wales Co-operative Centre….

Derek Walker

Derek Walker

I was recently looking through the posts on our blog site from the last twelve months. I was struck by the realisation that we have covered an awful lot of ground as an organisation. In addition, the scale of our output is matched by the quality and impact of our work.

It’s a healthy thing to look back at what has gone before, as you can learn from experience and take confidence from what has gone well. Another thing that occurred to me was the rich diversity of our work.

Since the start of the last financial year, some new clients have emerged. To highlight just a few – AFS in Swansea, where former Remploy staff came together to form a worker co-operative that has already proven successful. The Cambrian Village Trust social enterprise, in Clydach Vale, was supported to open a new, world class, all-weather football pitch. PS Services, a social business run by mental health charity Gofal, won the ‘One to Watch’ category at the UK Social Enterprise Awards. Many other businesses that we’ve supported have gone from strength to strength, showing that co-operatives and social enterprises are models for growth, as well as sustainability.

Elsewhere in the Centre, we’ve received additional funding from Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund to expand the area covered by Communities 2.0, to now help people in the most deprived parts of Cardiff, Newport, Vale of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire make the most of computers and the Internet. Communities 2.0 has also seen a number of county-wide initiatives launch in the last year, heavily based on strong partnership work – bringing the people and organisations together than can make a real difference.

Accommodation Furniture Solutions Ltd

Accommodation Furniture Solutions Ltd

Our co-operative housing project has been extended for another two years. More groups around Wales are talking to us, and our partners, about the potential to develop co-operative housing schemes in their community, giving people more direct control over their living arrangements.

The year’s watershed moment came with the publication of the Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission report. Led by Professor Andrew Davies, the Commission has concluded that “conventional approaches to economic growth and development are not sufficient alone to achieve the improvement in the social and economic wellbeing of people in Wales”, adding “co-operatives and mutuals offer significant economic, social and environmental benefits compared with ordinary businesses. Their development must be central to transforming Wales’ economic fortunes”. These words come as a clarion call to those involved in the co-operatives and mutuals sector, as well as those on the fringes who have yet to realise the full potential of co-operative approaches to economic development. The report’s recommendations are currently being discussed at a series of consultation events and it will be interesting to hear how others think they should be taken forward. The report’s recommendations have the Centre’s full support.

Join us for the second part of this blog post, later in the week…

Positive results for the Social Enterprise Support Project

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December saw the production of the latest Social Enterprise Support Project evaluation reports, the fourth for the Convergence project and first for the Competitiveness project. The reports detail how the projects were planned and set up; they detail the major stakeholders; the funders; they critique the management and delivery processes, the administration protocols and targets; and, of course, they describe the actual delivery.

A large portion of the reports cover the findings of a longitudinal survey conducted with clients – some are new clients, some are clients who have been interviewed, by the evaluators, a number of times throughout the projects. Much of this survey’s results show the progress clients are making as a result of the on going work of the Social Enterprise Support Projects. The report highlights evidence of progression against eleven organisational areas including: an ability to respond to new opportunities, an ability to market ourselves, an ability to competitively tender, an ability to generate profit, an ability to generate income, quality of service/ product, confidence, willingness to embrace risk, leadership and management skills, networking skills and finally overall business acumen.

Here are some quotes from the reports:

Firstly from clients:

Talking about the support the project has given -

  • “This has been absolutely fantastic. Manna from heaven for us”
  • “This support continues to give us the confidence to seek to grow the enterprise in appropriate ways.”
  • “We’re incredibly grateful for the help we’ve had. Sitting and thinking about it now, it’s been a huge help to us as a social enterprise and as a team”
  • “Could not have gone through the process without the help from the DO – she made it all happen”
  • “It was great having an individual to contact who had the expertise and who we could go to if we had questions to ask, knowing they would be answered well.”

In relation to the Bespoke training -

  • “I don’t know if everyone uses it but they should- it’s excellent.”
  • “They’ve been awesome”
  • “The help has been excellent, really useful.”

And from the Evaluators themselves:

  • “….interventions made to date have been of real quality and have made a difference to the clients engaged.”
  • “Satisfaction levels with Development Officers support is very high – extremely or very satisfied at 87%,
  • “92% satisfaction rates for training”
  • “All respondents who had received subsequent support from their DO were either extremely or very satisfied with the support received”
  • “Over two thirds (68%) of respondents were extremely or very satisfied with the type of support they had received”

Written by Social Enterprise Support Project Managers – Nicola Mehegan and Paul Ashman.

Wales Co-operative Centre

The Wales Co-operative Centre was set up thirty years ago and ever since has been helping businesses grow, people to find work and communities to tackle the issues that matter to them. Its advisors work co-operatively across Wales, providing expert, flexible and reliable support to develop sustainable businesses and strong, inclusive communities.

www.walescooperative.org

Written by ieuannash

February 25, 2014 at 3:37 pm

#walescoopreport Co-operation can help us all grow – let’s create a collaborative advantage in Wales.

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#walescoopreport Co-operation can help us all grow – let’s create a collaborative advantage in Wales.

Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker looks at the report of the Wales Co-operative and Mutuals Commission which is published today.

The Wales Co-operative and Mutuals Commissions report provides Wales with an opportunity to incorporate co-operation into nearly everything we do in our country. It’s an opportunity we should grasp with both hands.

The report is a detailed and insightful dissection of the co-operative sector in Wales. It offers many interesting and innovative recommendations which, if fully implemented, could see Wales become the focus of co-operation in Britain.

At the Wales Co-operative Centre, we think this report is a big deal.

The Wales Co-operative Centre has supported the development of worker co-operatives and employee owned businesses for many years. From working with the miners in their efforts to purchase Tower Colliery, to advising firms like Primepac and more recently Accommodation Furniture Solutions, we have helped employees sustain their own futures through the co-operative and democratic ownership of their businesses.

The report asks all stakeholders to revise the way in which we think about business development and business growth. It questions current approaches to procurement and tendering. It raises questions on education approaches and it asks us to consider ownership of those assets in our communities which help to forge our identity.
Co-operation has often been stimulated by need in Wales, and to a certain degree that is still the case.

In this report, the requirement for co-operative development and growth is borne out of a strong business case. The report suggests there is a real need for a concerted effort to build a co-operative, cohesive, sustainable business community that develops jobs locally and stimulates local economic development and home-grown business growth. Socially owned enterprises such as co-operatives are more resilient than other business forms with more than 90% of co-operatives surviving their first three years compared to 65% of conventional businesses. According to CASS business schools research, average sales growth of employee owned businesses during the recession was far higher than comparable non-employee owned businesses at the time.

The Commission recognises that co-operatives can be springboards for growth. It calls for specialist business support and advice for people looking to form co-operatives and employee owned businesses. It calls on existing co-operatives to support and mentor new co-operative enterprises and to work with them to build supply relationships. The report also recognises the need for specialised investment finance for developing co-operatives and employee owned businesses. It offers a detailed analysis of the many business sectors where co-operative and mutual models can work including housing, energy, shops and pubs, finance, transport and delivering public services.

We warmly welcome the Commission’s findings on investment finance. The Centre agrees with the recommendation that specialist business support for developing co-operatives and employee owned businesses is essential. The Commission argues that there is a need to establish specific funding for these types of businesses. We welcome the acknowledgement of the need for specialised and targeted availability of grants and loans for co-operative and employee owned businesses and we would echo the call for that funding to be made available.
The Commission also recommends more flexibility in public procurement and for co-operative procurement to be ‘mainstreamed’ through Welsh procurement practice.

These recommendations address major barriers to the development of worker co-ops, employee owned businesses and co-operative consortia in Wales and they will have an important impact on jobs and growth. But, it is also essential to ensure that these developments are protected by an ongoing educational focus that ensures that future generations understand the benefits of working together.
And to me this is all tied together by the first set of recommendations in the report. The Commissioners recommend that the values, principles and skills of co-operation are embedded within our education system. This inventive recommendation will ensure that future generations that progress through the Welsh education system see co-operation and co-operatives as a solid means of building enterprise and as an attractive, sustainable career choice.
The Wales Co-operative Centre welcomes the publication of the report. It makes some bold and ambitious recommendations which, if implemented, could accelerate growth in an already dynamic and innovative sector.

Written by davemadgecoop

February 21, 2014 at 8:15 am

#LeadingWalesAwards launch discussion ‘relevant to social enterprise aims’

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This year, the Wales Co-operative Centre is co-sponsoring the Leadership in Social Enterprise category of the Leading Wales Awards, with Social Firms Wales. Jayne Mills, one of our Social Enterprise Development Officers, attended the first launch event for the 2014 awards, last Thursday, at Moneypenny, in Wrexham. Here’s her account of the event:

I arrived in time to hear Rachel Clacher, Co-Founder and Director at Moneypenny, talk about how leadership contributes to business success and sustainability, followed by remarks by Barbara Chidgey, Chair of the Leading Wales Consortium, summing up some of the conclusions from the discussion.

As they were speaking, I was struck by how much of what they were saying applied to social enterprise and to the way we work at the Wales Co-operative Centre. In particular, they said one of the keys to successful business was to be driven by values and a passion for what we do. Other points which struck a chord with me were that successful leaders and businesses:-

  • Are in control, but are not controlling – they are in control of their own role, and trust others to do theirs. They unleash others’ potential
  • Focus on what staff are doing well and make more of it 
  • Take time to think, listen to others, have conversations and enable communication through fun 
  • Demonstrate they are part of a team and have a commitment to the team 
  • Enable others to grow and focus on what they are jointly trying to achieve – not on themselves – it is not about them 
  • Recognise and thank others for their contribution 
  • Are clear about what they want and foster a team approach to achieve it

They said that a leader can be defined as someone with the ability and willingness to make decisions and the sense of purpose and confidence to see them through, and leadership is about attitude – ‘I have this idea and I’m going to do everything in my power to make it happen’. But they also said that in Wales people don’t often recognise themselves as having leadership skills. So, if you know someone who is leading a successful social enterprise well, now is the time to nominate them for an award for the recognition they deserve and as a way of inspiring others.

More details can be found on the Leading Wales Awards website www.leadingwalesawards.com

Written by davemadgecoop

January 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm

The search for Wales’s top social enterprise leader begins here!

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The search for Wales’s top social enterprise leader begins here!

Today, nominations open for the 2014 Leading Wales Awards. The Wales Co-operative Centre is co-sponsor of the Social Enterprise category, alongside Social Firms Wales.

This year, the awards scheme is celebrating 10 years as the only established, prestigious, pan-Wales awards that recognise, identify and celebrate individual people in Wales whose leadership is having a real impact in business, Public Services, not for profit organisations and communities across Wales.

The focus for the 2014 Leading Wales Awards is to identify and celebrate ‘Individual Leaders in Wales whose leadership is making a real difference and has had positive impact’.

The awards categories are designed to attract entries from all sectors and from all levels of leadership in Wales. There are 8 proposed categories in the 2014 Awards to celebrate individual leadership.

4 generic categories for individual leadership in:

Public Sector 

Voluntary / Not for Profit sector 

Leadership in the Private Sector 

Leadership in Social Enterprise

Categories for individual leadership (for which nominations can come from any sector):

Young Leader (14 – 25 years) 

Team Leader 

Women in Leadership 

Leadership for the Future

The Leadership in Social Enterprise category is open to individuals working within a social enterprise that have a leadership role at whatever level of responsibility. Social enterprises are businesses trading for social and environmental purposes. Social enterprises are distinctive because their social and / or environmental purpose is absolutely central to what they do – their profits are re-invested to sustain and further their mission for positive change.

Last year, the Leadership in Social Enterprise award was won by Menna Jones, who is the CEO of Antur Waunfawr, a social enterprise in North Wales which has developed a range of sustainable projects that create training and employment for people with learning disabilities and other disadvantaged people.

Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre thinks the awards play an important role: “The Wales Co-operative Centre is once again delighted to be co-sponsoring the Leadership in Social Enterprise category. Strong, visionary leadership is a key driver in the growth and sustainability of social enterprises and has a major impact on their contribution to the Welsh economy. These awards provide valuable recognition for inspirational social enterprise leaders who can be role models for the sector.”

This week, there are launch events for the awards in North Wales (Wrexham, 16th January) and South Wales (Cardiff, 17th January). These will be followed by ‘Leadership Café’ events in Ebbw Vale (23rd January) and Llandudno (19th February), at Monwel Ltd and Crest Co-operative respectively.

You have two months to submit your nominations for this year’s Leading Wales Awards, with the closing date being Friday 14th March. More information is available on the Leading Wales Awards website.

Written by davemadgecoop

January 13, 2014 at 8:30 am

Leading Wales Awards go ‘live’

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We’re publishing the following information on behalf of the Leading Wales Awards. The Wales Co-operative Centre is delighted to be sponsoring the social enterprise category in this year’s awards, in partnership with Social Firms Wales:

The 10th Leading Wales Awards go “live” in association with Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Next week we have our 10th year launch events in North Wales on 16th January and in South Wales on 17th January and we are focusing on the clear message that “leadership is a key driver of economic growth” and therefore essential to our success in Wales.

Each event is show-casing a highly successful Welsh Business (Admiral is our case study on 17th at Cardiff Met and Moneypenny our case study at Wrexham on 16th January). Both events begin at 08:30 and conclude by 10:15. All details are here.

If you would like to attend either event please book here and state which event you would like to attend.

This is our celebratory 10th year of the Leading Wales awards and once again the Leading Wales Awards Consortium urges you to tell us about that special person you know whose leadership is making a real difference in Wales by nominating them for an Award. You can nominate by downloading an application form from www.leadingwalesawards.co.uk. Nominations open on Monday 13th January and close Friday 14th March 2014.

Lansio Gwobrau Arwain Cymru yn 10 oed, mewn cydweithrediad â Phrifysgol Fetropolitan Caerdydd.

Yr wythnos nesaf, rydym yn cynnal ein digwyddiadau lansio deng mlynedd o Wobrau Arwain Cymru, yng Ngogledd Cymru ar 16 Ionawr ac yn Ne Cymru ar 17 Ionawr. Rydym yn canolbwyntio ar y neges glir bod “arweinyddiaeth yn ffactor allweddol o dwf economaidd” ac felly’n hanfodol i’n llwyddiant yng Nghymru.

Mae pob digwyddiad yn arddangos busnes Cymreig hynod lwyddiannus (Admiral yw ein hastudiaeth achos ar 17 Ionawr ym Met Caerdydd a Moneypenny yw ein hastudiaeth achos yn Wrecsam ar 16 Ionawr). Bydd y ddau ddigwyddiad yn dechrau am 8:30 ac yn gorffen erbyn 10:15. Mae’r holl fanylion ar gael yn www.leadingwalesawards.co.uk

Os hoffech chi fynychu un neu ddau o’r digwyddiadau, archebwch yma a nodwch pa ddigwyddiad yr hoffech ei fynychu.

Eleni rydym yn dathlu pen-blwydd Gwobrau Arwain Cymru yn 10 oed, ac unwaith eto mae’r Consortiwm Gwobrau Arwain Cymru yn eich annog chi i ddweud wrthym am y person arbennig sy’n gwneud gwahaniaeth go iawn yng Nghymru drwy ei arweinyddiaeth, ac i’w henwebu am wobr. Gallwch enwebu trwy lawrlwytho ffurflen gais o www.leadingwalesawards.co.uk. Bydd enwebiadau ar agor o ddydd Llun 13 Ionawr tan ddydd Gwener 14 Mawrth, 2014.

Written by davemadgecoop

January 9, 2014 at 10:14 am

A ‘Commons Sense’ approach to housing

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A ‘Commons Sense’ approach to housing

The Wales Co-operative Centre champions co-operative working as a way of helping people to do things for themselves. For just over a year the Centre has been working successfully to support the development of a number of new co-operative housing schemes across Wales.

Two years ago, a conference was held in Letchworth – the first Garden City – about the potential to develop urban community land trusts and new ‘Garden Cities’ across the UK.

A ‘Garden City’ is, “…a town designed for healthy living and industry of a size that makes possible a full measure of social life but not larger, surrounded by a rural belt; the whole of the land being in public ownership, or held in trust for the community.”

Rhiwbina in Cardiff was developed as a garden village a century ago.

New garden cities are needed to tackle the UK’s housing crisis, create sustainable communities and help young people get on the housing ladder. With 1.7m people in the UK waiting for social housing and half a million overcrowded households, radical housing solutions are required. Support for a new generation of garden cities is growing with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition all making supportive statements in the last two years.

Co-operatives UK has just published, ‘Commons Sense – Co-operative place making and the capturing of land value for 21st century Garden Cities’, a report from the Letchworth conference that compellingly captures the speeches and workshops. There are fascinating contributions on The Garden City Movement. From Wales, there is a section on Co-operatives and Mutual Home Ownership from David A Rodgers, recent Housing President of the International Co-operatives Alliance, and on Co-operative Housing from Rhidian Jones, Head of Affordable Housing, Department for Housing and Regeneration, The Welsh Government. There is also a section on the challenges to developing Community Land Trusts for urban land stewardship by Catherine Harrington, National Co-ordinator, of the National Community Land Trust Network.

The report highlights the inequalities in land ownership in the UK –


‘Few people are aware of the intensive concentration of landownership in Britain with 36,000 people (0.06% of the population) owning about half the land’….and 0.6% of the UK housing stock being in Co-operative ownership!

It goes on to make 10 recommendations which will help in shaping the innovative co-operative economic policy frameworks for Wales, and to continue to advance the work that the Wales Co-operative Centre is delivering across the country.

There are 2 recommendations with particular relevance to Wales:-


Multi-stakeholder co-operatives for the Common Good:

Forging a coalition to unleash the untapped potential to join up Community-led housing solutions including Community Land Trusts, co-operative housing of all tenures (rental and shared equity), Community Self-build and Co-housing. The Welsh Government has acted upon this and the Wales Co-operative Centre is a key partner. This network of multi-stakeholder co-operatives has been developed to link the community land solutions for housing that require access to sites.

Social-Public Partnerships:

Dynamic social-public partnerships are vital. The enabling strategy currently being developed for mutual housing in Wales and supported by government and the Wales Co-operative Centre should become commonplace across the UK.

Since the inception of the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Co-operative Housing project in 2012, the Centre has worked hard with Welsh Government and other stakeholders, to promote the co-operative model as one way of addressing the need for affordable homes.

Some key achievements of the project include: –

  • Co-operative housing specialists from across the UK have been procured under a framework agreement with the Centre. This specialist knowledge has brought new skills in to Wales with specialist providers helping eight potential co-operative housing schemes.
  • Commissioned research in to the demand for co-operative housing within Wales with a particular emphasis on Cardiff, Newport and Carmarthen. The report also looked at the perception of co-operative housing, barriers to setting them up and the factors that would attract people to want to join a co-operative housing scheme. A set of practical recommendations for those involved in developing and marketing co-operative housing schemes in Wales were also developed as part of this research.
  • Over a hundred individual beneficiaries been given information and advice around co-operative housing.
  • Support provided to sixteen pioneer projects.
  • Support provided to 2 advanced pioneer projects to allow them to become ‘shovel’ ready before the end of March 2014.- Support will be required beyond this date.
  • Welsh Government offered £1.9M in Social Housing Grant’s to 3 advanced pioneer schemes and three Registered Social Landlord’s ready to take up this allocation and build 89 co-operative homes.
  • In addition to the above, over several hundred potential co-operative homes identified in ‘the pipeline’, together with numerous emerging pioneer projects.

It has been an exciting time for co-operative housing within Wales over the last two years. We have three advanced pioneer projects which will soon start work with Registered Social Landlord partners to build co-operatively owned homes in Wales. As a result of the support of the Centre’s project there are groups of people across Wales looking at innovative ways of using co-operative models to provide access to affordable housing.

If all of these schemes progress as envisaged then Wales will be seen as an emerging leader in innovative co-operative housing solutions.

This excellent report builds on the conference and re-enforces the support given to the 8-12 pioneering co-operative housing projects by the Wales Co-operative Centre, and will assist them all moving forward on the ground this year.

Dave Palmer is Co-operative Housing Project Manager at the Wales Co-operative Centre

Vintage Mary Dei #gofullcircle

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Vintage Mary Dei #gofullcircle

This blog post is the latest part of our Winter ‘Go Full Circle’ campaign, which is promoting the role of – and encouraging consumers to support – Welsh social enterprises, co-operatives and other community organisations in the run-up to Christmas.

Vintage MaryDei, which has just celebrated its 2nd birthday, is a social enterprise in North Wales that shines a light on the role of carers through the world of vintage clothing.

The business was set up by two sisters, Nerys Ann Roberts and Mair Jones, to support carers in the Denbigh area, in memory of their parents, Mary and Dei Jones. The sisters cared for their parents for many years – their mother suffered with vascular dementia and their father became disabled following a fall. During this time they met so many carers who were looking after their loved ones with such determination and often with little support.

From this experience the motivation for Vintage MaryDei came about. Their main hub is the vintage clothes shop based in Hall Square in Denbigh.

They’re also operating an online shop via their website – http://www.marydei.com. The business collects clothes of all types and arranges a variety of community events, including fashion shows, gigs and various workshops, to raise awareness of their aims and to raise funds.

Mair’s told us that they’ve experienced some interesting developments since setting up: “We are increasingly meeting more carers and are listening to them. As we develop our business we will begin to provide the kind of services that they tell us are lacking. For the present, we are providing a listening and sensitive ear and signposting them to sources of support available.

“When we were carers, we had such little opportunity to offload the stresses and strains. Vintage MaryDei is determined to create a space where carers can be listened to, be informed but also be enabled to escape and have some creative and fun times, even for a few hours.”

Mair continues “To set up a business in one of the worst recessions since the 1930′s and during a time when high street businesses are being squeezed from every direction, was a daring act of faith! Then again, we had a mission and a burning purpose. To try in whatever little way to reach out to carers within our town. For many, this situation is even more evident at Christmas. The festive period can be challenging enough at the best of times, but can be even more so when you find yourself caring for loved ones”.

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’.

Written by davemadgecoop

December 22, 2013 at 10:00 am

Antur Waunfawr at Christmas #gofullcircle

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Antur Waunfawr at Christmas #gofullcircle

This blog post is the latest part of our Winter ‘Go Full Circle’ campaign, which is promoting the role of – and encouraging consumers to support – Welsh social enterprises, co-operatives and other community organisations in the run-up to Christmas.

We recently took to Twitter to tell you about Antur Waunfawr’s community Christmas Fair, which has been running for around the last 25 years. The event was established to bring the residents of Waunfawr and the local area together.

Here, we find out how workers at Antur Waunfawr have busily created unique Christmas decorations, in the run-up to the festive period, with the help of a local artist.

Tess Urbanska of Rhydyclafdy, studied Art & Design at Coleg Menai, Bangor, and started off her career working from her parents’ cellar. She is now an extremely sought-after artist, who also works as a part-time tutor for Coleg Harlech.

Previously, Tess had helped Antur workers and staff to create some striking pieces of art using pieces of recycled kitchens, old newspapers and paint. However, with Christmas fast approaching, it was felt that something more festive was required.

The team has used old crockery, upon which they have built layers of papier mache, then painted and transformed them into decorative plates showing Christmas puddings, angels and more!

Tess said: “I’ve worked with people with learning disabilities before, and always find it extremely rewarding. I’m really enjoying working here at Antur, and love to see the progress the workers are making. The art they’re producing is truly amazing, and each and every piece is unique.”

Day Services Manager Sara Gant agreed: “Each piece of art we produce here has been created, in the main, by the workers, with a little guidance from Tess and other members of staff. It’s been amazing having Tess here with us, and it’s been particularly rewarding for the workers as they’re now able to see their own finished product on display in our shop.”

Antur Waunfawr is a leading social enterprise, which was established in 1984, and provides employment and training opportunities for people with learning disabilities.

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’.

Written by davemadgecoop

December 21, 2013 at 10:00 am

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