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Over £15,000 awarded to local organisations for community initiatives

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Twenty organisations and community groups in South-West Wales have been awarded grants to help them improve their local communities.

The funding, totalling £15,004.23, comes from the 2022 Community Changemakers Fund, an initiative 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.

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SWWCo is hosted by 4theRegion, a community interest company based in High Street Station, Swansea, which also backs the Community Changemakers initiative.

The Community Changemakers fund, now in its second year, directly supports local groups and organisations who want to drive positive local changes in communities along the South West Wales rail network.

Each group or organisation was able to apply for a grant of between £300 and £1,000. The main criteria was to demonstrate how the funding will improve community well-being and/or sense of place.

Peter Richards, from the Friends of Neath Abbey Iron Company, who were awarded £950 from the fund said: “This grant will make a tremendous difference. The long ladders we bought with the grant will allow us to get rid of vegetation, such as ivy and buddleia which is damaging the monuments.

“We have many visitors on the site such as school children studying the monuments, tourists and members of the local community. The grant will enable us to make benches so that people can sit down and view the impressive monuments.

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“By fostering a connection with history and the environment from a young age, perceived barriers about heritage being only for older middle-class people can be broken down, increasing interaction with history and actively engaging future generations.”

Carmarthenshire Wellbeing Project is another group who received funding from the scheme.

Stephanie Latham, Senior Support Worker at The Wallich said: “Our Wellbeing Group’s allotment is a really valuable activity, offering people a place to chat, tackle loneliness, learn new skills and benefit our environment.

“With the help of The Changemakers Fund, we’ve been able to buy vital equipment to grow food, keep everyone safe and dry and make the project the success it is today. The funding award has really taken our project to another level, growing a community.

“Thank you, Changemakers, you have really made a difference to helping people who have faced challenges with homelessness, mental health, trauma or more.”

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In Pembrokeshire, Peter Llewellyn, Trustee of Hubberston and Hakin Community Centre said: “The Trustees at the Community Centre are delighted to have been awarded a grant from Changemakers to help support its future sustainability.

“The grant will enable the Centre to fully utilise the solar energy generated by our 33 PV Solar Panels by installing a solar battery storage unit. This will ensure that as opposed to exporting our surplus solar energy to the national grid we will be able to store it for use at the Centre for our many evening activities.

“The delivery of the battery itself is expected in the coming weeks and we are extremely grateful to Changemakers for their support.”

Full List of Funding Recipients

Neath Port Talbot

The Friends of Neath Abbey Iron Company were awarded £950 to obtain ladders to continue maintenance on the ironworks.

Port Talbot Sea Cadets were awarded £500 to carry out more community projects.

Neath Port Talbot Children’s Rights Unit was awarded £600 to support activities within the Girls’ Rights Group.

Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire Wellbeing Project was awarded £970 to continue development with their allotment project. Supported by The Wallich Carmarthenshire Floating Support service, they recognise the need for ‘spaces for opportunities’ and will use the allotment as a vital part of recovery.

Llanelli & Mynydd Mawr Railway Company Limited were awarded £1000 towards the cost of a replacement portable toilet block for placement on their site at Cynheidre.

New Leaf were awarded £500 to contribute to their Creative Empowerment Coaching service, which empowers individuals to pursue a career in the creative industry.

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Pembrokeshire

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home were awarded £952 towards costs involved with the formation of a community choir.

Rosemarket Local History Society were awarded £665 to design and build a website which will become the focal point of communication and a resource for the community.

Grwp Resilience were awarded £400 to support and extend community gardens in Pembrokeshire to meet the demand for allotments and community growing spaces.

Friends of Jubilee Park & Nature Trail were awarded £609 to replace old and dysfunctional tools for maintenance within the park.

Pembrokeshire People First (Project Name “Môr”) were awarded £500 to buy art tablets to loan out to people who don’t have access to this type of equipment.

The Queens Hall Narberth were awarded £790 to deliver a series of ‘Community Clean-up & Big Soup’ events in Narberth in collaboration with other non-profit organisations in the area.

Hubberston and Hakin Community Centre were awarded £1000 to install battery storage in order to store solar electricity generated by their 33 PV solar panels.

Clarbeston Road AFC were awarded £1,000 to refurbish a Portakabin that was gifted to the club in 2020.

Long View Residents were awarded £300 to clean up and enhance the concourse and the green space adjoining the platform of the Pembroke Dock station.

Swansea

Cae Tan CSA were awarded £612.92 to extend the impact of their Grow from Home project.

Volcano Theatre Company were awarded £962.30 to purchase art supplies and refreshments so that the men’s group can meet weekly at Volcano.

6th Llangyfelach Scout Group were awarded £705.79 to update play and sports equipment, such as indoor and outdoor footballs, cricket and baseball sets, an obstacle course set, a parachute and bean bags.

Loughor RFC Junior Section were awarded £1,000 to support the purchase of trees and hedgerows to enhance and develop a green site within their sporting complex site.

Friends of Dunvant Park were awarded £487.22 to improve the park by adding play equipment, benches, and resources for activities within the park.

South West Wales Connected Community Rail Officer Ashley Morgan said: “We are delighted to deliver this new round of funding after the highly successful first round in 2021, which saw a broad range of exciting projects being funded across the region.

“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. The recipients of this year’s grants embody that vision and spirit, and we can’t wait to see how their work progresses.”

Dawn Lyle, Chair of 4theRegion, said: “We know that local people living in communities are best placed to know what’s needed – not top-down interventions. The Community Changemakers Fund is designed to empower local people who want to make the changes from the ground up.

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“We were overwhelmed by the creativity and community spirit of this year’s applications, and we are thrilled to be able to help them progress their initiatives. 4theRegion is committed to creating positive change throughout the region and this project will certainly help to achieve that.

“We look forward to announcing the 2023 Changemakers Fund later this year.”

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Ambitious plans for city’s future unveiled

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Ambitious plans for Swansea have been unveiled by the leader of the council – including further transformation of the city centre.

Building on success stories like the Swansea arena, new schools and play areas and a £750m new deal for the city centre, the city is set to be transformed in the coming years.

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And as Swansea heads into a summer packed with major international sports, music and cultural events, they’re helping set the stage for an optimistic and vibrant future for the city.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said that plans being set out for the next five years include the transformation of Castle Square Gardens, the rejuvenation of Mumbles and the sweep of Swansea Bay and the delivery of new, exciting visitor attractions.

And he pledged that none of the city’s communities would be left behind thanks to tens of millions of pounds of investment in road improvements, street cleaning and community facilities alongside support for struggling families and the homeless.

Castle Square is due to be transformed in the coming months (Image: Swansea Council)

He said: “Swansea has always been a city of ambition. Now it is a city delivering on our people’s priorities.”

Among the highlights of the city’s ambition for the future include the delivery of a £750m city centre transformation that started with the arena, delivering a city centre community hub and a new role for the former Debenhams store.

Other pledges include making progress on the £1.7bn Blue Eden renewable energy scheme set to include a tidal lagoon, developing a new aquarium and building new hotels in the city centre and near the Swansea.com Stadium.

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The opening an outdoor adventure park on Kilvey Hill in 2025 that would include cable cars, ziplines and luge runs.

Plans for the Skyline adventure park on Kilvey Hill form part of the council’s future vision for the city (Image: Swansea Council)

The council will also build hundreds more energy-efficient council properties, while also upgrading existing homes to help reduce fuel bills.

Highways are set for investment with a £10m boost for road repairs, new PATCH road repair teams being rolled out, more electric vehicle charging points and more walking and cycling routes.

Other commitments for Swansea communities include Cleansing, littering and weeding teams dedicated to every neighbourhood,

Continued support to encourage eligible households to claim the Welsh Government £150 cost of living payment, investment in thousands more trees, our parks and biodiversity with investment also seeing play area upgrades and improved skate facilities.

Swansea Council say they will spend £10m on road repairs in the next year (Image: Swansea Council)

Cllr Stewart said the free bus travel initiative and upgrades for outdoor play areas was helping families make ends meet at a time when every penny counts. At the same time city centre regeneration spearheaded by the council was attracting millions of pounds of private sector investment.

He said: “The cost of living crisis and climate change will be among the biggest challenges any of us will face over the coming years.

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“From food banks to free bus travel, from better homes to better schools, we’ll carry on supporting families and communities who are struggling to get by.

“We’ll continue investing in major projects and community priorities like schools, children’s welfare and adult wellbeing. This combined investment enables resilience and promotes wellbeing. It creates and protects jobs and it makes Swansea a better place to live, work and do business.

“And by investing in green energy, growing our green spaces and welcoming new people, new investment and fresh ideas, we can look forward to building a better future.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Swansea shows rise in business growth despite fears high streets are empty

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Swansea BID (Business Improvement District) are celebrating the opening of the 60th new business in Swansea City Centre since January 2020.

According to a recent Federation of Small Business report on Welsh towns, only 3% of people feel their town centres are thriving; but given the impact of Covid-19, Swansea BID have continued to see businesses opening since the pandemic began. 

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High Street Giants Replaced by Independents

Since January 2020, 66 new businesses have opened in the city centre. In the same period, only 27 have closed, with over half of these businesses citing the pandemic as the reason. As many large high street names such as Debenhams, Disney, Topshop and Pizza Express have closed, the rate of smaller, independent businesses opening has increased.

“We have seen strong growth in start-up businesses over the last few years. I think excellent customer service and experience is a key factor in their success,” said Russell Greenslade, Swansea BID Chief Executive. “We have also seen sharp growth in the hospitality sector, independents and more sustainable businesses.”

Responses to the FSB survey showed that 67% of people in Wales feel that their town centres are ‘bad’ or ‘bleak’. The Vision for Welsh Towns report makes a series of recommendations to support and grow businesses in town centres, many of which Swansea BID actively do; including helping to reduce business costs and directly supporting businesses. 

A new independent restaurant has opened at the former Pizza Express chain next to Swansea’s castle

The High Street is Resilient 

Simon Kendrick, Director of the Games Emporium on Swansea’s High Street said the business is likely to renew their lease for another 10 years thanks to their confidence in the developments happening in Swansea.

“We’ve enjoyed growing with the High Street, it has been fabulous to see the once run down and talked down part of town continue its transformation towards a vibrant part of the city’s cultural life,” he said.

“Swansea BID have been helpful in driving some of that change with initiatives like the Big Heart and city-wide treasure trails to drive shoppers our way, as well as more behind the scenes support like advocating reductions in street-table rates for local cafes. 

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“Currently, the BID is assisting us (and many other businesses) with applying for grant funding to renovate our shopfront, which will further enhance the appearance and character of the High Street,” said Kendrick.

Swansea’s High Street has seen massive transformation over the last few years

Investing in Regeneration

With £1bn set to be invested in regeneration projects over the next few years, the landscape of Swansea is set to transform. 

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Investment and Tourism said, “The growth is encouraging. It shows the combination of our business talent and the work the council and its partners are carrying out to regenerate Swansea to create a modern, confident city that’s attracting more and more businesses to invest.

“We’re doing all we can to create an environment where businesses can thrive, such as the £135m Copr Bay district and our work to transform the look and feel of The Kingsway and Wind Street.

“Much more is planned too, including a revamp of Castle Square Gardens, a state-of-the-art office at the former Oceana nightclub site, and the work our development partners Urban Splash are leading on to transform parts of the city centre, including the old St David’s Shopping Centre.

“Our business community, residents and visitors have lots to look forward to.”

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Aldi responds to call to #GetOnARoll by including cancer symptoms on toilet roll packs

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white toilet paper roll on toilet paper holder

Aldi is to add signs and symptoms of bowel cancer to all its packs of own brand toilet roll in response to Bowel Cancer UK’s #GetOnARoll campaign.

Bowel cancer is the UK’s fourth most common cancer and the second biggest cancer killer. Yet almost half of adults around the UK could not name a single symptom of bowel cancer in a recent survey.

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Red flag symptoms include changes in bowel habit and bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo, which can all be noticed while people are on the toilet.

Knowing the symptoms to look out for, and acting on them, can lead to bowel cancer being diagnosed at an earlier stage when it is easier to treat and even cure.

Now, Aldi has teamed up with Bowel Cancer UK to include the potentially life-saving information, together with a QR code for customers to find out more, on over 70m packs of toilet rolls every year.

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying, at Aldi, said: “It’s shocking to learn that almost half of all adults in the UK cannot name a single symptom of bowel cancer. When we heard how powerful it could be to simply print the signs and symptoms on loo roll packaging – so they are there when people most need to see them – we were really keen to get involved.

“Spotting signs early is so important, so anything we can do to raise awareness of what people should look out for, and signpost them to Bowel Cancer UK to find out more, is crucial.

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“We’re delighted to be the first retailer to announce we’re getting on board since the launch of the #GetOnARoll campaign and we’re calling on all other retailers and loo roll brands to follow suit.”

Genevieve Edwards, CEO at Bowel Cancer UK, added: “We are delighted to partner with Aldi to raise vital awareness of bowel cancer symptoms with people all over the country. It’s the UK’s fourth most common cancer, with someone diagnosed with the disease every 15 minutes in the UK. 

“Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early, but 60% of people are diagnosed at later stages when it is much more difficult to treat. Part of the problem is low awareness of the red flag symptoms of bowel cancer that should prompt people to contact their GP.

“It’s such a simple idea to share this vital information on loo roll packaging. It could help us reach millions more people every year, and will undoubtedly help save lives. We want to thank Aldi for taking this step and encourage all other retailers to follow suit.”

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