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Welsh social businesses make ‘Top 300’ list

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Would you be surprised to know that the latest edition of a list, charting Wales’ top 300 firms, contains a number of companies that are, in some way, social businesses?

Well, that’s the case in this year’s Top 300 list, published by The Western Mail in association with the University of South Wales.

At least eight businesses on the list work to social objectives, in different ways, with one in the top five. On turnover alone (£736.5m), Dŵr Cymru Cyfyngedig is the leading operating social enterprise in Wales.

There are two mutuals on the list – Principality (18th) and Monmouthshire Building Society (106th). Other social enterprises in the top 300 include the Wales Millennium Centre (267) and Cartrefi Cymru, which supports adults with learning disabilities and autism (290).

Shaw Healthcare

Shaw Healthcare

Shaw Healthcare is the leading co-operative on the list, at 64th. Dulas, which is a worker co-op in the renewable energy sector, comes in at 299.

You’d be forgiven for overlooking Swansea City AFC, which occupies 92nd place in this particular table. The Premier League football club is part-owned by Swansea City Supporters’ Trust, which is a form of co-operative.

It’s also encouraging to see the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) in the top 300, at 281, as the umbrella organisation for the voluntary sector in Wales.

To make the list is no mean feat. To quote David Pickernell, professor of economic development policy and director of the Centre for Enterprise, University of Wales School of Business, “To be included in the Top 300, companies have to have a significant and identifiable management and trading presence in Wales. The order of the list is determined by the last recorded turnover”. While highlighting that five of the top ten in the list are ‘home-grown’ companies – including Glas Cymru Cyfyngedig (the parent company of Dŵr Cymru Cyfyngedig) – Professor Pickernell goes on to make another important point that is relevant to the social business sector: “Many of the companies in this year’s Top 300 would have started out as small businesses. We therefore also need to focus on developing entrepreneurial mindsets, behaviours and skills in our young people so that they can meet and overcome the challenges that lie before us all, and more importantly help Wales retain the talent which will put us at the forefront of the coveted knowledge-based, creative, growing economy that we all wish to see”.



This point was perfectly complemented by a special feature in the Top 300 supplement, published by the Western Mail last week, which highlights the winners of this year’s Social Enterprise Awards Wales. That particular list of winners includes Monwel Signs Ltd, which took the ‘One to Watch’ prize at the recent UK Social Enterprise Awards.

It is essential that social businesses are seen as part of a mixed economy in Wales, offering opportunities for growth and sustainability just like any other form of business. Let’s hope those that have made this year’s Top 300 help to inspire more social businesses to make the list in 2015.

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Written by Mark Smith

December 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Happy birthday to Gwynfi Community Co-operative

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Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to visit Gwynfi Community Co-operative, an independent co-op that has

been serving the valleys village of Blaengwynfi for 30 years and was celebrating an important anniversary.

View of outside of Gwynfi Community Co-operative

Gwynfi Community Co-operative

The shop was set up during the Miners Strike in 1984 and its ethic of providing an essential service to the community is still very much in place now. When it was set up, the intention was to ensure that it was sustainable and offered paying jobs in the community it served. Today they employ eight people.

Two things struck me about the celebratory event. First was that the shop is run by an extremely enthusiastic group of people, both staff and board members. Their commitment to the co-operative went well beyond the shop and deep into the community of Blaengwynfi.  They are constantly looking at the services the community needs and how the co-operative infrastructure can serve them. The shop offers a meeting place for teenagers and the co-operative are looking to take on other services in the community and base them from the shop.

Gwynfi Community Co-operative celebrations

Gwynfi Community Co-operative celebrations

This year the co-operative is offering a community fund to help groups and individuals in the community. It’s a relatively small amount but it will help people in the community who need it directly. In 2015, they are embarking on a drive to update and recruit new members – I wish them luck with that but I have a feeling they won’t need it!

The other thing that struck me was the interest from other communities in investing in setting up community shops and pubs in their own villages. I met a group of people looking to set up a community shop near the Welsh border and, if that worked, to take over a pub in their village at some time in the future too. Another group were looking at starting up a small community shop, while a third group also wanted to take over their village pub. They have realised that the pub is just an element of what is needed for their community hub, and they have started to look at what else could be offered to their community from that base. Things like a small shop, pop up libraries and rooms for health care and beauty services were discussed.

Many communities have the ability to run their own community hubs, be they pubs, shops, community centres or even leisure centres. Many of these can provide sustainable employment. All of them can provide services to a community as well as acting as a strong glue that can keep the community together and ensure that it is able to look after the individual needs of its members.

Congratulations to Gwynfi Community Co-operative, which is an outstanding example of this.

Written by David Madge

December 12, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Celebrate #SocialSaturday in North Wales

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Social Saturday logo

Social Saturday logo

Saturday 13 September 2014 is Social Saturday, a UK-wide campaign run by Social Enterprise UK to encourage people to buy from social enterprises.

Here are my top tips on how you can spend Social Saturday in North Wales. From watching local football teams, to taking in some of the amazing landscapes and scenery North Wales has to offer! There’s something for everyone.


Galeri Caernarfon

Visit Wales’ current Social Enterprise of the Year to catch the latest film or theatre performance. Or you can grab a bite to eat and drink at the ‘DOC Café Bar’, whilst enjoying the stunning views of Victoria Dock and the Menai Straits.


Porthmadog Football Club (FC)

If you’re a football fan, go and watch Porthmadog FC, who are taking on Fflint, at home, on Saturday 13th September. The match kicks off at 3pm at Y Traeth, Porthmadog.


Pengwern Arms Hotel

Located in Llan Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, the Pengwern Arms Hotel is a community owned venture, which acts as the ‘focal point’ for people in the area. Pengwern say that the ‘pub is the hub’, so if you’re planning on meeting friends or family for a drink or bite to eat, why not pop into Pengwern in the beautiful surroundings of Snowdonia.



If you’re looking for a new piece of home furniture, then why not visit ‘Resource-renew’ in Bangor. They have a range of pre-owned furniture and refurbished white goods available at bargain prices.
You can also donate your old items to them. So if you’ve recently moved house or had a de-clutter, don’t throw anything away, get in touch with Resource-renew, so it can be reused.


antur stiniogAntur Stiniog

If you’re an outdoor activity enthusiast, then a visit to Antur Stiniog is a must. Located in Bro Ffestiniog, in the amazing surroundings of Snowdonia, the landscape lends itself perfectly for walking, kayaking and camping. Any keen mountain bikers should try out one of their four graded downhill trails, on which the British Championships were recently held. Before you hit the hills, visit ‘Y Siop’ to kit yourself out with climbing and bike equipment, bike hire and outdoor clothing.

Antur Stiniog has something for everyone though. If the above activities don’t take your fancy, then you can pop into ‘Antur Café’ for some traditional Welsh food.


Colwyn Bay FC

Cheer on Colwyn Bay FC on Saturday 13th September, in their home clash against North Ferriby United in the Conference North division. Kick off is at 3pm at Llanelian Road, Old Colwyn.


Menter Fachwen – Greenworks Horticulture

Located in the Old Station, Cwm-Y-Glo, Greenworks Horticulture specialises in made to order hanging baskets for the summer and winter. If you’re a keen gardener, then it’s definitely worth paying them a visit.


Tafarn Y Fic

Tafarn y Fic is a Welsh community pub located in Llithfaen, near Pwllheli. If you’re in the area, call into the bar for a warm welcome and local ale. First, you should take in the area’s fantastic scenery by embarking on some of the local walking trails.


Cyfeillion Swtan

Swtan is a fully restored example of a 17th century Welsh cottage with a thatched roof. It is situated on the beautiful north west Wales coast of Anglesey, in the picturesque village of Church Bay (Porth Swtan).

The cottage is owned by the National Trust, and is leased and run by a group of local enthusiasts, Cyfellion Swtan (‘Friends of Swtan’), as a living heritage museum preserving history and culture.

Visitors can experience a fascinating step back in time to rural life in Wales circa 1900.


Holyhead Maritime Museum

The museum is a fascinating experience for the whole family. Step back in time at the oldest lifeboat station in Wales (circa. 1858), which houses a collection of exhibits telling the enthralling maritime history of Holyhead.
Situated alongside the Maritime Museum, in a Second World War Air Raid Shelter, is the very informative permanent exhibition “Holyhead at War”. There is wheelchair access, a well stocked gift and bookshop, very knowledgeable museum guides and a highly recommended cafe/licensed restaurant, the “Harbour Front Bistro”.


Wrexham FC

Go and support Wrexham FC on 13th September, who are playing Welling at home (the Racecourse Ground), kick off is at 3pm. It’s been a good start to the season for Wrexham, and with Welling not fairing so well at the moment, there’s a good chance of this continuing!


Saith SerenSaith Seren

Before you go to cheer on Wrexham FC, visit Saith Seren, a community owned pub in Wrexham, for a pre match meal and drink. While there, you can take in some live entertainment from local performers.
The Social Saturday campaign was started by the Wales Co-operative Centre in Wales in 2013 so it’s really exciting to see it rolled out across the UK. Last year, social enterprises all over Wales took part to showcase the best of what they do.

If you’ve got any other ideas about how to support social enterprises for Social Saturday, let us know via Twitter (@WalesCoopCentre). Whatever you do to celebrate Social Saturday, don’t forget to share your experiences on twitter using the hashtag #socialsaturday.

*Please check individual websites for details of opening times and locations.

Written by Ieuan Nash

September 10, 2014 at 8:00 am

Dathlwch #SadwrnCymdeithasol yn y Gogledd

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Social Saturday logo CYDdydd Sadwrn 13 Medi 2014 yw dydd Sadwrn Cymdeithasol, ymgyrch ledled y DU gan Menter Gymdeithasol y DU i annog pobl i brynu cynnyrch mentrau cymdeithasol.

Dyma fy awgrymiadau i ar sut y gallwch chi dreulio Sadwrn Cymdeithasol yn y Gogledd. O wylio timau pêl-droed lleol, i fwynhau rhai o’r tirweddau a’r golygfeydd anhygoel sydd gan y Gogledd i’w cynnig! Mae rhywbeth at ddant pawb.


Galeri Caernarfon 

Dyma Fenter Gymdeithasol y Flwyddyn Cymru ar hyn o bryd, felly beth am alw heibio i weld y ffilm neu’r perfformiad theatr diweddaraf. Neu gallwch gael tamaid blasus a llymaid ym Mar Cafe DOC, a mwynhau’r golygfeydd trawiadol o Ddoc Fictoria a’r Fenai’r un pryd.


Clwb Pêl-droed Porthmadog

Os ydych yn gefnogwr pêl-droed, beth am fynd i wylio Clwb Pêl-droed Porthmadog, sy’n chwarae gartref yn erbyn y Fflint ddydd Sadwrn 13 Medi? Mae’r gêm yn dechrau am 3pm ar y Traeth, Porthmadog.


Gwesty’r Pengwern

Mae’r Pengwern yn Llan Ffestiniog ac yn fenter sy’n eiddo i’r gymuned, sy’n gweithredu fel ‘canolbwynt’ i drigolion y fro. Y dafarn yw’r man ymgynnull perffaith, felly os ydych yn bwriadu cwrdd â theulu neu ffrindiau am lymaid neu damaid blasus, beth am bicio draw i’r Pengwern yng nghanol harddwch Eryri.



Os ydych yn chwilio am ddodrefnyn newydd i’ch cartref, yna beth am ymweld ag Adfywio-adnodd ym Mangor. Mae ganddynt ddetholiad o ddodrefn a nwyddau gwyn wedi’u hadnewyddu sy’n dipyn o fargen.

Gallwch roi eich hen eitemau iddynt hefyd. Felly os ydych wedi symud tŷ’n ddiweddar neu’n awyddus i roi trefn ar eich cartref a chlirio’r llanast, peidiwch â thaflu dim, cysylltwch ag Adfywio-adnodd, fel y gellir eu hailddefnyddio.


antur stiniogAntur Stiniog 

Os yw gweithgareddau awyr agored at eich dant, yna cofiwch alw yn Antur Stiniog. Bro Ffestiniog yw cartref yr antur, yng nghanol gwychder Eryri – tirwedd berffaith ar gyfer cerdded, caiacio a gwersylla. Dylai unrhyw feicwyr mynydd brwd roi cynnig ar un o’u pedwar llwybr lawr allt graddedig, lle cynhaliwyd Pencampwriaeth Prydain yn ddiweddar. Cyn i chi fentro tua’r mynyddoedd, ewch draw i’r Siop i gael yr holl offer sydd ei angen arnoch ar gyfer dringo a beicio, llogi beiciau a dillad awyr agored.

Mae gan Antur Stiniog rywbeth i bawb. Os na fydd y gweithgareddau uchod yn apelio atoch, yna gallwch alw yng nghaffi’r Antur a mwynhau gwledd o fwydydd Cymreig traddodiadol.


Clwb Pêl-droed Bae Colwyn 

Beth am roi hwb i Glwb Pêl-droed Bae Colwyn ddydd Sadwrn 13 Medi, yn eu gêm gartref yn erbyn North Ferriby United yn adran Conference North? Bydd y gic gyntaf am 3pm yn Ffordd Llanelian, Hen Golwyn.


Menter Fachwen – Gwaithgwyrdd Garddwriaeth

Hen Orsaf, Cwm-y-glo yw cartref Gwaithgwyrdd Garddwriaeth sy’n arbenigo mewn gwneud basgedi crog ar gyfer yr haf a’r gaeaf yn arbennig i chi. Os ydych chi’n arddwr brwd, cofiwch alw.


Tafarn y Fic

Tafarn gymunedol Gymreig yn Llithfaen ym Mhen Llŷn yw’r Fic. Os ydych chi yn yr ardal, galwch yn y bar a chewch groeso cynnes a chwrw lleol. Ond yn gyntaf, dylech fwynhau’r wledd o olygfeydd godidog yn y cyffiniau drwy roi cynnig ar rai o’r llwybrau cerdded lleol.


Cyfeillion Swtan

Bwthyn Cymreig â tho gwellt o’r ail ganrif ar bymtheg wedi’i adfer yn llwyr yw Swtan. Mae ar arfordir gogledd-orllewinol hardd Ynys Môn, ym mhentref prydferth Porth Swtan.

Eiddo’r Ymddiriedolaeth Genedlaethol yw’r bwthyn, ar brydles i grŵp o selogion lleol, sef Cyfeillion Swtan, sy’n ei redeg fel amgueddfa treftadaeth fyw i ddiogelu hanes a diwylliant.

Gall ymwelwyr gamu’n ôl i fywyd yng nghefn gwlad Cymru oddeutu 1900.


Amgueddfa Arforol Caergybi 

Dyma brofiad diddorol a gwerth chweil i’r teulu cyfan. Camwch yn ôl i’r oes a fu yng ngorsaf bad achub hynaf Cymru (oddeutu 1858), sy’n cynnwys casgliad o arddangosion sy’n adrodd hanes morwrol cyfareddol Caergybi.

Drws nesaf i’r Amgueddfa Arforol, mewn lloches rhag bomio o gyfnod yr Ail Ryfel Byd, mae yna arddangosfa barhaol llawn gwybodaeth, “Holyhead at War”. Ceir mynediad i gadeiriau olwyn, siop â detholiad da o lyfrau a rhoddion, llyfrynnau llawn gwybodaeth am yr amgueddfa a chaffi/bwyty trwyddedig mawr ei barch, y Front Harbour Bistro.


Clwb Pêl-droed Wrecsam 

Ewch i gefnogi Clwb Pêl-droed Wrecsam ar 13 Medi, sy’n chwarae Welling gartref (ar y Cae Ras), gan gychwyn am 3pm. Mae Wrecsam wedi cael dechrau da i’r tymor, a gan nad yw Welling yn llwyddo cystal ar hyn o bryd, mae tîm Wrecsam yn obeithiol iawn!


Saith SerenSaith Seren 

Cyn i chi fynd i gefnogi Clwb Pêl-droed Wrecsam, ewch draw i Saith Seren, tafarn sy’n eiddo i’r gymuned yn Wrecsam, am bryd o fwyd a diod cyn y gêm. Tra byddwch yno, gallwch fwynhau tipyn o adloniant byw gan berfformwyr lleol.

Dechreuwyd ymgyrch Sadwrn Cymdeithasol yng Nghymru gan Ganolfan Cydweithredol Cymru yn 2013, felly gwych o beth yw ei gweld yn cael ei chyflwyno ledled y DU. Y llynedd, bu mentrau cymdeithasol ledled Cymru’n cymryd rhan ynddi i arddangos y gorau o’u cynnyrch a’u gwasanaethau.

Os oes gennych chi unrhyw syniadau eraill ynglŷn â sut i gefnogi mentrau cymdeithasol fel rhan o Sadwrn Cymdeithasol, rhowch wybod i ni drwy Twitter (@WalesCoopCentre). Sut bynnag fyddwch chi’n dathlu Sadwrn Cymdeithasol, cofiwch rannu eich profiadau ar Twitter drwy ddefnyddio’r hashnod #socialsaturday / #sadwrncymdeithasol.

* Edrychwch ar wefannau unigol i gael manylion amseroedd agor a lleoliadau.

Written by Ieuan Nash

September 10, 2014 at 8:00 am

Mae Sadwrn Cymdeithasol newydd dyfu!

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Derek Walker

Derek Walker

Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru Prif Weithredwr, Derek Walker, blogiau am y digwyddiad Dydd Sadwrn Cymdeithasol sydd ar y gweill ar 13 Medi. Mae Dydd Sadwrn Cymdeithasol yn anelu at roi hwb i nifer y bobl sy’n prynu gan fentrau cymdeithasol.

Yn dilyn llwyddiant ein hymgyrchoedd menter gymdeithasol Sadwrn Cymdeithasol a Cefnogi’r Cyfan y llynedd, mae’n bleser gennym gyhoeddi bod Menter Gymdeithasol y DU yn ymestyn yr ymgyrch Sadwrn Cymdeithasol ar draws y DU yn 2014!

Rydym wrth ein boddau bod y corff cynrychioli cenedlaethol dros Fentrau Cymdeithasol y Deyrnas Unedig wedi mabwysiadu ein hymgyrch ac y bydd ein dull arloesol yn cael ei hyrwyddo ledled Lloegr a’r Alban yn ogystal â Chymru!

Bydd y Sadwrn Cymdeithasol cenedlaethol cyntaf yn y DU yn digwydd ddydd Sadwrn 13 Medi 2014.

Mae Arolwg Menter Gymdeithasol y DU 2013 o Gyflwr Mentrau Cymdeithasol y DU yn dangos bod mentrau cymdeithasol yn masnachu’n bennaf â’r cyhoedd ond er bod tri chwarter o’r cyhoedd yn cefnogi’r syniad o fentrau cymdeithasol, mae ymwybyddiaeth ohonynt yn parhau’n isel.

Social Saturday logo

Social Saturday logo

Bydd Sadwrn Cymdeithasol yn ceisio codi ymwybyddiaeth o fentrau cymdeithasol ac yn annog prynwyr i ‘brynu’n gymdeithasol’. Mae’n gyfle i’r sector ‘greu sŵn’ ac yn llwyfan i fentrau cymdeithasol brynu a hyrwyddo’u cynnyrch a’u gwasanaethau. Bydd Sadwrn Cymdeithasol yn cael ei gefnogi gan ymgyrch Cysylltiadau Cyhoeddus genedlaethol.

Y bwriad yw gwneud Sadwrn Cymdeithasol yn ddigwyddiad blynyddol y gall y sector adeiladu arno, a bydd yn ceisio cynnwys cynghorau lleol, Aelodau’r Cynulliad, Aelodau Seneddol, gweinidogion a busnesau. Nod y diwrnod yw rhoi hwb i grwpiau a chymunedau er mwyn codi ymwybyddiaeth o fenter gymdeithasol mewn trefi, dinasoedd a phentrefi.

Rydym yn falch o gefnogi’r Sadwrn Cymdeithasol cyntaf ar draws y DU (ond cofiwch, fan hyn y gwelsoch chi ef gyntaf)!

I gymryd rhan, ewch i:

Derek Walker, Prif Weithredwr, Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru

Written by Ieuan Nash

August 14, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Social Saturday just got bigger!

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Derek WalkerWales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive, Derek Walker, blogs about the upcoming Social Saturday event on 13th September. Social Saturday aims to boost the number of people buying from Britain’s social enterprises.

Following our successful Social Saturday and Go Full Circle social enterprise campaigns last year, we are happy to announce that Social Enterprise UK are taking the Social Saturday campaign UK wide for 2014!

We are delighted that our campaign has been taken on by the national representative body for Social Enterprises in the United Kingdom and that our innovative approach will be promoted across England and Scotland as well as across Wales!

The first UK national Social Saturday will take place on Saturday 13th September 2014.

The 2013 Social Enterprise UK State of Social Enterprise Survey shows that social enterprises primarily trade with the general public, but whilst three quarters of the public support the idea of social enterprise, awareness of social enterprises remains low.

Social Saturday logo

Social Saturday logo

Social Saturday will seek to raise awareness of social enterprises and encourage consumers to ‘buy social’. It is an opportunity for the sector to ‘make some noise’ and a platform for social enterprises to sell and promote their products and services. Social Saturday will be supported by a national PR campaign.

It is intended that Social Saturday will become an annual ‘event’ on which the sector can build, and it will seek to engage local councils, AMs, MPs, ministers and business. The day aims to mobilise groups and communities to raise awareness of social enterprise within towns, cities and villages.

We are proud to support the first UK wide Social Saturday (but remember, you saw it here first)!

To get involved, please visit:
Derek Walker, Chief Executive, Wales Co-operative Centre


Written by Ieuan Nash

August 14, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Closing the Jaws of Doom: co-operative approaches to public service delivery

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The “Jaws of Doom” describes the shape you see if you plot a graph showing increasing demand for public services (driven by an ageing population) and reducing public sector resources to meet that need.  It’s this tension that is driving severe cuts in some areas and market commercialisation in other parts of the UK.

That was the background to today’s “Reshaping Services with the Public” conference held by the Wales Audit Office in collaboration with partners including the Wales Co-operative Centre.  The conference was about changing the relationship between those who deliver and people who use services.

The premise is that too many public services are still delivered from the perspective of single service deliverers. The leads to citizens experiencing multiple, fragmented approaches that can result in contradictory and conflicting interventions, poor outcomes for the service user, waste of valuable resources and poor value for money.

An example of a 'jaws of doom' graph

An example of a ‘jaws of doom’ graph

Keynote speaker Professor Tony Bovaird from Birmingham University argued for a radical change in the way we co-commission, co-design, co-deliver and co-assess public services.  We need to centre services on the user, gain their consent and harness their time and the time of others in the community to complement resources paid for from public money.

This sounds a lot like a co-operative model to us.  The Wales Co-operative Centre supports co-operatives and social businesses, and that includes assisting local councils who are considering externalising services to new social businesses.  We help ensure that the perspectives of service users and staff are hard-wired into the governance structures of new enterprises.  We support business plans that stack up financially but are driven by the needs of service users and by broader social good.  This is in sharp contrast to privatisation approaches, where service users can be objectified, and ineffective delivery models can be contractually perpetuated.

And at the Wales Co-operative Centre we try to practice what we preach.  We deliver the Wales Government’s Communities 2.0 digital inclusion programme, and the volunteering model used is a lovely model of co-delivery.  The people the programme helps can themselves become volunteers and influence what the programme delivers.  Not only does this mean value for money but it ensures that the programme stays fresh and relevant to the needs of people who are digitally excluded.

Today’s conference marks the beginning of a long journey for public services in Wales.  If we keep with us co-operative values and explore co-operative models of service delivery, we would be well on our way.

Written by Dave Brown

July 17, 2014 at 1:14 pm

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