Great Western Railway has given £5,000 to support a project in South West Wales encouraging people to turn their community-enhancing ideas into reality.
A new Community Changemakers Fund will directly support local people and organisations who want to drive positive local change in communities along the South West Wales rail network.
The initiative has been launched by South West Wales Connected (SWWCo), a Community Rail Partnership set up to support the communities along the railway line throughout Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea.
SWWCo is hosted by 4theRegion, a community interest company based in High Street Station, Swansea, which is also backing the Community Changemakers initiative. The grants will be administered by the Carmarthenshire Association for Voluntary Services (CAVS) and are designed to be easy for local people to apply for.
As part of GWR’s franchise agreement with the Department for Transport, the train operator is committed to supporting schools, colleges, community and other not-for-profit organisations by aiding a number of initiatives.
The aim of the Community Changemakers Fund is to support communities along its railway lines to make change happen. Initiatives could include COVID-safe community events, creative and cultural initiatives, projects to clean up or improve local spaces, projects to support local businesses or ‘buying local’, projects to promote sustainability or climate action, projects to promote walking and cycling, and much more.
Each person or organisation can apply for a grant of between £300 and £1,000. The main criteria is that groups demonstrate how the funding will improve community well-being and/or sense of place. They will need to state what the money will be used for and what difference their project will make. Their project will need to start and finish during 2021.
South West Wales Connected Community Rail Officer Jennifer Barfoot said: “We are passionate about supporting local people who aim to improve their communities in innovative ways, making small interventions that help create pride of place and promote well-being in the community. This new fund is designed to be easy to apply for, and will support changemakers within local communities around railway stations, helping them to bring about exciting change in their areas.”
GWR Advisory Board member and President of the Heart of Wales Line Travellers’ Association, Professor Stuart Cole CBE, said: “We are delighted that GWR is making these awards. In particular because the communities along the railway network in south, west and central Wales welcome the active traveller, arriving by train and walking and cycling while in Wales.
“Such travel is sustainable in both environmental and economic senses. It avoids car travel and experiences such as the Heart Of Wales Line Trail provide opportunities to link walking and cycling with rail travel. Tourism is a mainstay of the local Carmarthenshire economy and in particular the hospitality sector, whose meals and accommodation are local businesses which need particular support post Covid. Travel to the countryside also contributes to mental health and well-being.”
GWR Community Manager Emma Morris said: “We have a specific pot of money designed to help support schools, colleges and community or other not-for-profit organisations.
“The Community Changemakers Fund will help local people who are passionate about improving their community to turn their exciting ideas into reality and we were pleased to support this project.”
To find out more about the Community Changemakers Fund visit southwestwales.co/changemakers-fund/