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New fund to improve communities in South West Wales

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Groups and organisations with great ideas for how to improve the wellbeing of their local communities are being invited to apply for a grant from the new 2023 Community Changemakers Fund.

Created and administered by South West Wales Connected Community Rail Partnership (SWWCo), and now in its third year, the Community Changemakers Fund supports innovative ideas to improve the places in the South West Wales rail network.

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Applications are open to any group of local residents, community organisation, charity, community interest company or micro-SME that is based within 10km/6miles of a train station on the network, which covers the counties of Neath Port Talbot, Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

If the organisation is not based within the given radius but can show how the grant funding will support a community that is, then the application will be considered.

Ideas that could qualify for funding include community green spaces or growing projects, projects to support local businesses or buying local, projects to clean up or improve local spaces, projects to boost health and fitness, arts projects, projects to tackle loneliness – and much more.

Last year’s Changemakers Grant recipients included:

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Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway

The company recently received a £1000 Community Changemakers grant from SWWCo towards the cost of a new on site toilet block for use by volunteers and visitors.

David Mee, press officer for the Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway said: “We were very pleased and grateful to receive the money from Changemakers which, added to our own resources, enabled us to purchase a new toilet block with vastly improved facilities.”

A Pacer train at Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr railway

Cae Tân CSA , a community supported agriculture project based on Gower

The £612.92 Changemakers grant has supported the project in several ways. Towards the end of the summer growing season, the funding enabled Cae Tân CSA to pay for Popty Pizza to bring in a wood fired oven for a memorable day at Clase Primary School when 150 pupils and 20 staff made healthy pizzas using seasonal produce grown at the school, at home, and at the farm.

The funding will also pay for a portable induction hub enabling Cae Tân CSA to deliver a winter soup making session at school and at a “Grow from home” event. Thirty pupils and 10 families will experience harvesting, washing, peeling and preparing their own produce to make delicious soups.

Jessie Kidd, Cae Tân CSA’s Education Officer for its Sustainable Schools Programme said: “Our education programme can only be delivered with funding support – it’s a simple as that. This grant has helped us to reconnect pupils, families and the community back to the land, and their food, and give a safe space to discuss the climate and ecological crisis we are all facing.

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“By giving the community basic growing skills we hope to increase food resilience, build confidence and improve health and well-being. It’s amazing what an effect growing plants can have on people – it’s transformative.”

The Paul Sartori Hospice at Home Community Choir, Pembrokeshire

The funding awarded (£952) contributed towards the total costs for the choir to run for 17 weeks in term time from April – September 2022, ensuring it had an experienced choir director, Vaughn Richardson, and a suitable venue at Vision Arts based in Haverfordwest, near the train station. 

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home Grant Development Officer and organiser of the Paul Sartori Community Choir, Judith Williams said: The grant through the Changemakers Fund has enabled the charity to sustainably form the Paul Sartori Community Choir and recognise many benefits, to not only the charity but the wider community. This has been especially poignant during its special 40th anniversary year. 

“Without this funding, the choir would not have been possible. The grant has really made a big difference to so many in the community. The gift of this grant, has and will continue to be a legacy from the Changemakers Fund to the Choir.”

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Paul Sartori Community Choir

It’s hoped that the latest round of the Community Changemakers Fund will support many more great projects in the South West Wales region. Applications will be open from November 25 and close at midnight on January 31 2023.

Anyone interested in applying should go to: https://www.southwestwales.co/changemakers/

SWWCo is a Community Rail Partnership set up to support the communities along the railway line throughout South West Wales (Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea). SWWCo is hosted by 4theRegion, a community interest company based in Swansea working to bring positive change in the region.

SWWCo Community Rail Officer Ashley Morgan said: “Part of the purpose of SWWCo is to support the communities in the towns and villages our rail network serves, all the way from Port Talbot Parkway through to Pembroke Dock. We truly are passionate about supporting local people to improve their communities in innovative ways – small interventions that help create pride of place and promote well-being in the community.  

“Our Community Changemakers fund will directly support groups and organisations who want to drive positive local change, with a minimum of bureaucracy so they can get on with making change happen.”

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