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Swansea Council first local authority to officially endorse ‘Black Pound Day’

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One of Wales’ most high-profile black entrepreneurs has praised Swansea Council for being the first local authority to publicly support Black Pound Day – and has called on other public bodies and private companies across Wales to also lend their weight to the initiative.

Serial entrepreneur Bernie Davies is looking to mobilise the business community and politicians in Wales to celebrate Black Pound Day, a monthly celebration of the contribution made to the local economy by black-owned businesses. It will happen on the first Saturday of every month starting on December 5.

Bernie Davies (Image: Seren Global Media)

Black Pound Day is an initiative founded by Swiss, music artist and member of So Solid Crew collective. The initiative encourages all communities to support black businesses to address the economic disparity and inequalities faced by black business owners and entrepreneurs in the UK. The initiative has achieved UK-wide success and has supported over 1,000 businesses since launching in June earlier this year.

Black Pound Day was formed in the South of England to raise awareness of the contribution black-owned businesses make to the economy while encouraging people to use black-owned businesses once a month.

The concept has since been embraced in many parts of the country. Most recently working in collaboration with BPD, the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce supported the initiative backed by fintech entrepreneur Joel Blake OBE.

In Wales, Swansea Council has endorsed the initiative. Swansea Council Leader Rob Stewart said: “Swansea is a diverse and dynamic city with a proud tradition of celebrating the contributions made by our different communities. I’m only too pleased to add my support to the launch of Black Pound Day in Wales and would encourage businesses and residents to get behind the movement. This is an opportunity to not only promote and support the economy in Swansea and online, but also to further bring our communities together.”

According to a report from Aston University’s Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME), firms run by entrepreneurs from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds contribute as much as £25 billion to the UK economy.

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But evidence suggests there are persistent disparities in the prospects and business outcomes owners from ethnic minority backgrounds. A study by British Business Bank published in October called ‘Alone together entrepreneurship and diversity in the UK’ showed that, after starting a business, Black business owners have median turnover of just £25,000, compared to £35,000 for White business owners. Median productivity is less than two thirds.

Meanwhile, only half of Black entrepreneurs meet their non-financial aims, compared to nearly 70% of White entrepreneurs.

The launch of the initiative follows Black History Month, which took place in October this year. Though this initiative has also evolved into Black History 365 in Wales in recognition of the fact that Black History will be celebrated and taught all year.

Bernie Davies said: “I think this is a fantastic initiative that has gained great traction in other parts of the country and which Wales should embrace. We are aiming to pull this off for December 5th, which is just the boost businesses need coming up to Christmas.

“I am delighted that Swansea Council has become the first local authority to back the initiative. I am now encouraging other businesses and individuals to get behind the campaign, which I believe is so important to the BAME community.”

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Bernie is a serial entrepreneur and bestselling author. An attorney-at-law by training, she became head of property at NewLaw Solicitors, a role in which she became a successful networker, Dynamo Role Model for the Welsh Government and now Business Wales Mentor.

She sits on the Black History Wales Management committee, the Swansea BAME society and has a close association with the Centre for African Excellence Swansea, African Caribbean Community Centre, BYP Cardiff (Black Young professionals network). She has received numerous accolades including Swansea Black Icon 2019 and Excellence in Business 2017, an award associated with Black History Month.

Bernie recently formed a new venture, Bernie Davies Global, which has the stated aim of helping businesses and other entrepreneurs navigate the pitfalls of getting back to a new normal post COVID-19 lockdown – and ready to embrace the opportunities that emerge.

She also recently published a book designed to help individuals fulfil their potential in business by better understanding what is truly unique about them – and the businesses they have created. ‘Your Business, Your Way’ is an Amazon’s Number 1Hot New Release and overall Amazon Bestseller.


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Education

Council to review Swansea Valley ‘Super School’ decision made by previous administration

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A reprieve could be on the cards for Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools as Neath Port Talbot’s new coalition administration say they want to review the decision made to create a new ‘super school’ in Pontardawe.

The new administration says it wants to establish if an alternative way to bring 21st Century School standards to the Swansea Valley can be achieved, which would be more acceptable to the community.

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The decision to establish a new £22.7m English-medium 3-11 school and specialist Learning Support Centre for pupils with a statement of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Pontardawe to replace Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools was taken by Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet on October 20th, 2021.

The controversial decision triggered a process of communicating with local schools around the next steps and general planning for the construction of the new school and swimming pool.

A successful tender exercise took place to secure a contractor to begin stage one of a two stage process.

Neath Port Talbot Council say that under its own procurement rules, it says it has been necessary to approve the appointment of the contractor to undertake Stage 1 contract works only, with no obligation on the council to proceed to the second stage. Stage 1 includes developing the design information; carrying out assessments of traffic and site conditions; ground investigations; and obtaining planning approval.

The council say that this first stage contract does not commit them to the construction of the school and pool, with a further contract being entered into at Stage 2, which is the actual construction phase. 

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It adds that allowing stage 1 works to progress will ensure that the opportunities to meet the timescales of the October 2021 decision could still be realised if a review does not highlight any changes are needed to the project.

This will avoid further anxiety for the school staff and families due to unnecessary delays, particularly important for those pupils in Godre’rgraig Primary School who are currently educated in temporary accommodation awaiting the new school.

Neath Port Talbot Council say they will now start discussions with Welsh Government Ministers to establish what information they might require from the council. This will inform the consultation process which the council will undertake with stakeholders.

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Books & Literature

Carmarthenshire author’s Carmarthen Crime series hits the bookshelves

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Ferryside author John Nicholl is celebrating the re-release of his Carmarthenshire-based detective books as the Carmarthen Crime Series.

His new publisher, Boldwood Books – winner of Publisher of the Year in the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards – has repackaged the four books with a strong emphasis on the Carmarthenshire setting and covers depicting local locations including Carmarthen, Dryslwyn Castle and the Tywi Estuary.

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The first two books, The Carmarthen Murders and The Tywi Estuary Killings, are on sale now, with the other two – The Castle Beach Murders and The Dryslwyn Castle Killings to follow soon.

The books focus on DI Gareth Gravel, an accomplished, old-school policeman affectionately known as Grav, who feels out of step with the modern world as he approaches retirement.

“Grav is something of a legend within the West Wales Police Force, liked and respected by the rank and file but not so much by the top brass due to his sharp tongue and a willingness to bend the rules to get results,” says Nicholl, who lives in Ferryside.

“Grav is overweight, loves rugby, drinks too much, particularly since the loss of his wife, and is struggling with chronic health issues. The job matters to him, victims matter to him, and he often goes the extra mile to protect the vulnerable victims of crime, particularly women and children, who he has a strong inclination to protect.”

The books draw on Nicholl’s own experience as a police officer and then as a child protection officer in Carmarthenshire. He started writing fiction after his psychologist recommended it as a way to process traumas he had witnessed during his career, which left him with PTSD.

He self-published his first book and it became an online bestseller; he went on to get signed by a publisher and now has 11 bestsellers behind him. His focus is on crime and the darker side of human nature, with a strong empathy for victims of abuse.

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“The four-book Carmarthen Crime Series, while fictional, draws on my real-life experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker,” he says. “I hope this gives the stories a gritty realism readers will enjoy.”

He adds that he is delighted to see the books republished as the Carmarthen Crime series.

“I grew up, live and write in west Wales, and so I’m delighted my publisher has given the books a strong Welsh identity, with stunning covers featuring some of the beautiful locations I know so very well,” he says.

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Port Talbot

Port Talbot RNLI shop open again for business

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Following refurbishment, visitors to Port Talbot will once again be able to visit the shop located at the lifeboat station at Aberavon seafront.

The shop refit marks the start of a new era. The shop was opened in loving memory of the previous shop manager, Phil Jones, who sadly passed away in early 2021.

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Phil had kept the shop open single-handedly for over twelve years with much success. Phil’s wife and daughter kindly agreed to officially open the new shop on Sunday 12 June when many memories were shared and there were plenty of best wishes for the future.

RNLI shops started out as simple cake stalls run by volunteers to raise money for their local station. Around 1920 commemorative RNLI products were added and shops were selling souvenirs and Christmas cards, all profits helping to save lives at sea.

The RNLI now has over 170 shops around the coast and inland all of which are run by dedicated volunteers: Port Talbot is no exception.

The shop volunteer team has grown since April 2021 from a team of one to thirteen and is also involved with fundraising.

New Shop Manager Kirstee David says: “It has been amazing watching the shop team develop over the last twelve months and to see how passionate the team is about developing what we offer – and about the RNLI!”

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(Lead image: Port Talbot RNLI)

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