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Firms reimagine workspaces post COVID thanks to Neath office furniture company

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Neath-based Ministry of Furniture is enjoying a surge in demand for some of its most innovative services on the back of companies reinventing the way in which their offices operate, in a post COVID-restrictions environment.

A shift to hybrid and flexible working arrangements on a long-term basis has prompted many firms to reconsider the very nature of their office environment – and how much space they need. Hotdesking and mixed working environments are being introduced as companies reimagine the office, scrapping outdated principles of set desks and offices.

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This approach is also combined with a growing desire to leverage the principles of the circular economy in all aspects of the design and fit out. Companies are now assessing and monitoring their carbon footprint and want a full understanding of where materials are sourced and the nature of supply chains.

Ministry of Furniture, able to deliver all aspects of an office refit from design stage to manufacture to fitout, has experienced a surge in demand as companies reconsider how and where people want to work.

Its designs incorporate flexible and informal breakout and workspaces incorporating pods and booths, which can also be powered by cutting-edge portable power banks, eclipsing the need for building costly fixed partitions and rewiring buildings based on new sets of plans.

In addition, the company has developed the expertise to upcycle and remanufacture desks and other types of furniture for new uses. For example, old desks can be repurposed as shelving or lockers – another important consideration in an office where employees no longer have a single dedicated desk or workspace.

Its approach always uses a local supply chain for all aspects of the job while leveraging the principles of the circular economy. Much of the furniture will be re-manufactured and upcycled, while it also works closely with Paint 360, a pioneer in the reengineering and reuse of waste paint, to decorate the interior.

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Just some of the companies Ministry has worked with on such projects include Marine Power Systems, Crunch Digital and Mrs Bucket. In the case of the latter, the company said it wanted to provide its growing team with a fresh environment focused on wellbeing and collaboration, and so added more informal space for collaboration and meetings.

The new office space located at Mrs Buckét, focused on team building and inspiration.

Graham Hirst, Managing Director, Ministry of Furniture, said: “The working environment fundamentally changed during the COVID pandemic, but many companies are now embracing the positives of that and want to adjust their working environments long term. With people working from home, companies want their offices to become alternative but inspiring workspaces.

“This ties in perfectly with our offering, whereby we can help clients through each part of the process from concept to completion. This approach also complements our commitment to the circular economy and skillset in remanufacturing and upcycling products. The clients we have worked with recently wanted a more collaborative working environment and I think that the final designs really help facilitate that creative energy.”

Rachael Flanagan, CEO of Mrs Buckét, said: “After a tough two years for everyone, we were keen to refresh our space as more of the team returned to office working. Employee wellbeing is really important to us and so our main goal was to create a modern, fresh environment, a place where people are excited to come to work.

“We consulted with our team from the outset and designed the new offices purely with their feedback in mind. Team building is at the top of our agenda, and we really believe that having an inspiring space for our team to work from will help us in our drive to become one of the foremost employers in the cleaning and facilities management industry.”

Lead image: The reimagined office at Crunch Digital supplied by Ministry of Furniture.

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Education

Plans for Neath Port Talbot’s first Welsh medium primary ‘starter school’ to be discussed by new council cabinet

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Plans for Neath Port Talbot’s first ever Welsh medium primary “starter school” at Neath Abbey are to be discussed by the Council’s new Rainbow Coalition Cabinet, who will meet for the first time this week.

The new school is part of the council’s strategy to increase Welsh medium education across the county borough.

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At the meeting on Wednesday (29 June) the Cabinet will be asked to approve moving to the next stage in the council’s plans to establish the new Welsh Medium Starter School in premises previously occupied by Abbey Primary School at St John’s Terrace, Neath Abbey.

If fully approved, the first pupils could move in next year.

The starter school model is used when establishing a new school, gradually allowing the facilities and staff to be used efficiently while the school grows to its full potential.

A consultation exercise regarding the school has already taken place with most people broadly in favour but with some concerns aired over traffic and the age of the school building.

Under the plans, £200,000 would be set aside for refurbishments and improvements including the provision of learning walls and digital equipment ensuring the school can deliver the new curriculum.

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Traffic would be monitored around the site and the school will not be fully occupied on opening but will grow year on year. Full occupancy is not expected until 2029.

Neath Port Talbot’s new rainbow coalition cabinet (Image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

This will be the first cabinet meeting of Neath Port Talbot’s new Plaid-Independent led Council, after the Independent, Plaid Cymru and Dyffryn Independent groups made an agreement to share power.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats and Green Party members will support the coalition via a confidence and supply agreement.

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Neath

New Neath community comes together to celebrate Summer at Coed Darcy

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Communities across St Modwen’s developments in Wales came together last weekend to mark the start of the Summer and to celebrate the Jubilee.

Over 300 residents gathered across Glan Llyn in Newport and Coed Darcy in Neath Port Talbot for the events, which were organised by developer, St. Modwen.

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The Mayor of Newport, Councillor Martyn Kellaway, opened the event at Glan Llyn, where residents enjoyed a community picnic in the Western Park, bringing snacks such as finger sandwiches and summer cakes.

The community took part in fun activities throughout the day, trying their hands at classic British games such as Jenga, Connect 4 and giant snakes and ladders and enjoyed a performance by a live DJ, while children were entertained by a balloon artist and a Butterfly stilt-walker.

Many residents wore fancy dress and enjoyed having their faces painted as part of the festivities.

Residents across both events also took part in pudding competitions, where bakers from across the communities presented their best sweet creations and competed to win a top prize of a £75 Lakeland voucher – donated by St. Modwen.

At Coed Darcy, the community came together for a picnic-style party in the park, and took part in activities including giant games and colouring in the Queen’s crown on the activity table.

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Local rock’n’roll band, the Rockerleles, provided entertainment throughout, including sing-alongs to many rock’n’roll favourites to the delight of the guests, along with balloon shows from local balloon-artist Gizmo.

St. Modwen is the master developer behind Glan Llyn, which is transforming the former Llanwern Steelworks into a high quality and sustainable community development set within a landscape brimming with nature. The development will deliver three new lakes, as well as extensive parkland across more than 80 acres, providing vital habitats for species native to the nearby Wentlooge Levels, including waterfowl, reed-bed nesters and woodland animals.

Over 850 homes have been delivered to date at Glan Llyn, alongside community facilities including a primary school, pub, and a park. There are also footpaths and cycle routes throughout the development, enabling schoolchildren and residents to enjoy the nature on their doorstep.

Previously the Llandarcy Oil Refinery, Coed Darcy is another former industrial site being transformed by St. Modwen into a thriving new community, with 300 homes delivered to date. This year, St. Modwen has brought forward a new masterplan for Coed Darcy, which would deliver up to 2,000 new sustainable and low-carbon homes, extensive green spaces, a school, community facilities and active travel networks across the development.

Lucinda Clason-Thomas, resident portfolio manager at St. Modwen, said: “It has been wonderful to see residents across our developments come together to celebrate this momentous national event and see in the start of summer together. Following the success of our spring events earlier this year, where 26 trees were planted across both sites, it was great to see the communities at Glan Llyn and Coed Darcy enjoy the spaces they’ve helped us to enhance.”

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Neath

Neath sprinting siblings to compete for Wales in Commonwealth Games

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Neath brother and sister sprinting duo Hannah and Joe Brier have received a call up by Team Wales and Welsh Athletics to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer.

It will be Hannah’s second Commonwealth Games after competing in Glasgow 2014. She will be racing the 200m and she can’t wait.

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“It feels amazing. I was so young last time. I was 16 and that was eight years ago so this time I’m around, I’m 24 and everything I’ve been through the last couple of years, this is really, really special.”

She will of course be joined by younger brother Joe who will represent Wales in the 400m.

Hannah adds: “The family are so, so happy at the moment, My Mum cried when she found out and then went straight on to buy an absolute fortune of tickets when she realised we might be on different days. It’ll be amazing to share that experience with Joe.”

They will also be joined by Ospreys rugby player turned Paralympic discus thrower Harrison Walsh who said: “I absolutely can’t wait to get out there and represent my country, my family and myself., Paralympic athletes don’t often get to represent Wales so this is a real privilege. Diolch!”

Meanwhile, marathon man Dewi Griffiths – who helps out on the family farm in Llanfynydd – will be aiming to put injury woes behind him. Having been selected for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a stress fracture forced him to pull out just days before boarding the plane to Australia

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Swansea Harrier Jonny Hopkins is in the line up for the 3000m steeplechase while Heather Lewis will be aiming for a podium position in the 10k racewalk. And, for once, her family – who run a farm and adventure park – will be able to cheer her on:

“I’m really excited for my family. Normally, they’re so busy on the farm they can’t come and watch but it will be much easier for them to get to Birmingham!”

Welsh Athletics National Coach, Chris Jones said: “Welsh athletes faced the toughest ever selection criteria for Birmingham 2022, so I am delighted to confirm 22 athletes will be joining Team Wales from athletics.

“I am proud that the work and dedication of the whole team has been recognised by this selection and I am excited to see how the athletes perform.

“Within the team we have a great mix of experienced athletes who will be returning for their second and third Commonwealth Games combined with 11 athletes who will be making their debuts at Birmingham. “

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