Wales Co-operative Centre

Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru

Posts Tagged ‘community

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

Rural Development Plan – Social enterprise in rural communities

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The Wales Co-operative Centre welcomes the Welsh Governments proposals for the Rural Development Plan (RDP) 2014 to 2020. We particularly welcome the focus on the role locally-led social enterprises can play in securing local basic services. Locally-led social enterprises delivering local basic services bring added-value benefits. They help to increase community spirit and build community identity as they bring people together to work towards shared aims. They also produce local solutions to local problems and needs by providing services designed and delivered locally. Furthermore, they have a measurable economic benefit. They provide jobs, training and stimulate the local economy. For example, Deudraeth Cyf works with unemployed people, disabled people and housing associations amongst others. They offer a variety of IT courses in Penrhyndeudraeth and in other locations in Gwynedd. Community-based social enterprises have also been established to take ownership of under-threat key services, such as Llanmadoc Siop y Bobl in Gower. You can read more about community-led co-operatives in our report ‘Community Co-operatives in Wales – Ordinary people doing extraordinary things’.

While the RDP proposals recognise the role of local social enterprises delivering and securing local services, it falls short of recognising their full potential for jobs and growth. The Wales Co-operative Centre would welcome greater emphasis on the ability of social enterprises to make a significant impact to the Welsh rural economy through jobs and growth. Social enterprise is a way of doing business that delivers sustainable economic growth while fostering positive social change and innovation. Social enterprises are anchored in their communities and any investment in social enterprises stays in the community and is recycled for wider economic and social benefits. While they often operate in hard to reach, economically challenged communities they employ more people relative to turnover than other businesses.


Written by Ieuan Nash

May 28, 2014 at 8:59 am

Congratulations to Siop Y Bobl on the launch of their new shop premises

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Today, one of the co-operatives the Wales Co-operative Centre helped set up in Gower is launching its new village shop premises.

Siop Y Bobl in Llanmadoc was formed by a group of volunteers from the village after the shop and post office that serviced the village closed down. The Wales Co-operative Centre helped the group to set up as a co-operative (registered as an Industrial and Provident Society) and helped develop their business plan.

The shop now provides a wide range of products from fresh goods, home baking, frozen and chilled foods, an off-license, post office and coffee shop. It buys its produce and goods from local producers or suppliers, helping to keep them in business and retaining income in the area.

Siop y Bobl has won numerous awards including the Welsh Volunteers Award, the Best New Business Award, Best Village in South Wales and Best Community in Wales. The members attribute part of their success to the advice they have received from the co-operative movement. Membership is open to anyone in the area who wants to join – without them Siop y Bobl would not exist.

One of the most significant benefits of the co-operative comes from its 50 plus volunteers, many of whom are local people who have retired. The shop is a “social hub” where people can meet and get together on a daily basis, especially people who live on their own and would not see other people.

Siop y Bobl firmly believes that having co-operative principles has meant that a “dying rural community” has been able to thrive. They purchase from 37 local or very local businesses which also helps the wider Welsh economy. Siop y Bobl has faced a number of challenges along the way, especially relating to its premises. After a long period of planning and construction the business has now moved into new premises on the main road through the village.

At the Wales Co-operative Centre we have been proud to support this community enterprise and wish them well in their new premises and for a long future as the hub of the community of Llanmadoc.

Branwen Ellis is a Business Consultant at the Wales Co-operative Centre. She is an expert on co-operatives, social enterprises and governance.

Written by David Madge

May 23, 2014 at 10:33 am

Christmas at Galeri #gofullcircle

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Christmas at Galeri #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.

Christmas is a time of reflection for Wales’s Social Enterprise of the Year, Galeri in Caernarfon. Marketing Manager, Steffan has told us it’s an opportunity to look back on the achievements of 2013, while looking forward to the year ahead:

Galeri Caernarfon Cyf., formerly known as Cwmni Tref Caernarfon Cyf., is a not for profit community enterprise operating as a Development Trust.

Galeri Caernarfon Cyf’s vision is that:
“anything is possible…through creative thought and sustainable action”

To realise the vision the company will:
“implement sustainable projects in a creative way to realise the cultural, economic and environmental potential of the local community and its environs”

The company was established in 1992 and worked hard to improve the image of Caernarfon town centre by purchasing derelict buildings (shops, offices and housing) within the walled town. To date, the Trust has refurbished and re-developed 20 previously vacant and run down properties in Caernarfon.

The development of the £7.5m Galeri Creative Enterprise Centre is the largest and most ambitious of the trust’s project so far. The opening of Galeri in April 2005 marked a significant development for the arts and creative industries in North Wales. Galeri includes:

  • Theatre and cinema [394 seats] 
  • 24 business / work units [let to 15 companies working within the creative / arts sector] 
  • Art Space 
  • 2 large rehearsal studios 
  • 2 smaller rehearsal rooms 
  • Meeting rooms 
  • DOC Café Bar (serving locally sourced, fresh produce)

Looking back at 2013 – despite the economic climate and trends generally in business start-ups and ventures, occupancy levels for business units has consistently been over 95% with the residential lettings at full capacity. We were able to add an additional 2 residential flats in the town centre, which meant developing what was once a doctors surgery in a project which took four months from starting the process to letting the flats. To top it off, we won the Social Enterprise of the Year award at the ceremony in Cardiff, in October.

In terms of the success of Galeri – since opening in 2005, there has been a consistent increase in number of tickets sold, households reached and repeat attendance. What we are trying to do is offer a varied programme of events which ensures that there is always something on that will be of interest to all, from cinema to comedy, popular music to youth theatre. Galeri on average organise over 400 events annually.

With the vast majority of customers [89%] living within a 45 minute drive time to Galeri – so we truly are a local company for the local community.

December at Galeri means Christmas staff parties in our cafe-bar DOC, panto season, a busy Box Office with customers purchasing tickets or gift-vouchers as Christmas gifts -and the last Tonic concert of the year. Tonic concerts are held monthly as afternoon concerts where we specifically target the older generation to attend. The Christmas concert is followed by our annual carol singing in the bar where resident companies, the audience and young musicians from local schools come together to celebrate.

On behalf of all of the staff and board members at Galeri Caernarfon Cyf – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and thank you for your support and for buying local.

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 David Madge

December 20, 2013 at 8:45 am

Wrexham’s community pub to thrive this Christmas #gofullcircle

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Wrexham’s community pub to thrive this 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.

Many thanks to Marc Jones of the Saith Seren community pub in Wrexham, for providing us with a contribution to the Winter 2013 Go Full Circle campaign:

Christmas is Saith Seren’s busiest time of the year as we approach our second birthday as a community cooperative pub and Welsh Centre for the Wrecsam area.

As a well-known venue for live music in the town centre, our weekends are always busy but the Christmas season also means our festive menu will be in demand – we already have more than 180 Christmas dinners booked.

The Centre’s offices and rooms for hire are now becoming very popular with community groups and voluntary organisations wishing to meet in a convenient, refurbished town-centre location and we host a series of Welsh-language classes for all levels of learners. We’re also home to the Cylch Ti a Fi toddlers’ groups and the local Menter Iaith Maelor.

The building we took over has now been transformed from a disused pub that had lain idle for a year into a thriving hub of community activity and entertainment.

For more details, please visit the Saith Seren website

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 David Madge

December 13, 2013 at 8:50 am

Tafarn y Fic – the heart of the community! #GoFullCircle

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Tafarn y Fic – the heart of the community! #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.

Thanks to Osian Gwyn Elis of Tafarn y Fic, which is situated on the Llyn Peninsula in Gwynedd. It sounds as though there’s a jam-packed programme of activities in store for the patrons of this community-run pub:

Tafarn y Fic, Llithfaen this year celebrates a quarter of a century of existence as a cooperative community pub, becoming the oldest in Europe – some feat for a country pub in Pen Llyn.

The Fic of course works hard to offer more than just a pub service. The aim this year is to use the back room for the first time to hold a Christmas party for the children in the village. However, the idea to hold a village children’s party in Llithfaen is not a new one. Indeed, a village children’s party has been an annual tradition since the 50s. There has been no party in recent years therefore the Fic intends to re-establish the custom. This is an example of how the Fic is willing to diversify and give the community a boost.

One of the main advantages of the Fic is that it provides free entertainment and social activities for the whole community.

The Fic Christmas Quiz will take place on 12 December this Christmas – come along and rack your brains while looking back at 2013. There will be a carol evening for the whole family on 23 December led by Seimon Menai and Anne Hafod. Boxing Day afternoon the Moniars will be ready to entertain with lively music! We will be joined by Geraint Lovegreen a’r Enw Da on Saturday 28 – an old favourite! Of course, in order to draw the year to a close in style the Fic’s house band – Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog – will present songs from the 80s on New Year’s Eve – come along in your 80s fancy dress!

Tafarn y Fic – the heart of the community!

(For more information go to or contact

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 David Madge

December 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

Newport residents invited to participate in Co-operative Housing survey

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The Seren Group, which includes Charter Housing, is considering developing co-operative housing on part of the old Pirelli Factory site, just off Corporation Road in Maindee. Before the group moves forward with this idea, it housing photoneeds to find out whether Newport residents would be interested in living in co-operative housing. Seren is working with the Wales Co-operative Centre and the Chartered Institute of Housing to identify whether there is any demand for this form of housing in the City.

What is co-operative housing?

Co-operative housing is a form of housing where members (either tenants or owners) democratically control and manage their homes and play an active role in the life of the communities they live in. Co-operative housing is very common in other parts of Europe. There are a number of different types of co-operative housing, either for rent or for sale but they have one fundamental thing in common: they put democracy and community ownership at the heart of housing.

Some of the advantages of co-operative housing are:-

• An affordable form of home ownership

• A democratic and safe community

• Long term financing and security

• Flexible to meet occupiers needs

• Potential of shared benefits of communal energy

What is the plan for co-operative housing in Newport?

Seren’s plan for the old Pirelli site is to create a community of around 200 homes which will be a mix of homes for rent and to buy. The vision is of an ‘urban village’; bringing the community benefits of village life to the heart of the City. Seren would like to include an area of co-operative housing in this development, if there are enough people interested.

Why are we reaching out to you and what should you do next?

We are trying to find out whether you are interested in knowing more about the development of the Pirelli site and whether you are interested in being a part of the co-operative Seren wants to support on the site.

If you are interested in finding out more, please go online using this web address

You’ll be asked to answer a few questions about yourself, your family, your current housing situation and to provide your contact details.

We will then write to you with more information about co-operative housing and an invitation to attend an event to tell you more about Seren’s plan and the types of co-operative housing that may be possible.

If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Dave Palmer from the Wales Co-operative Centre on 029 2055 6169.

Thank you.

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