The Welsh Government will invest £11 million over the next three years in Arfor 2, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething and Designated Member Cefin Campbell have announced today.
- New Arfor 2 programme designed to strengthen the economic resilience of Welsh language strongholds.
- £11 million to be made available for communities in four counties with the highest levels of Welsh speakers.
- Funding will support a number of strategic interventions, including a focus on opportunities for young people and families, to enable them to stay in or return to their home communities.
- Programme will play a key role in the Welsh Government’s Welsh language strategy (Cymraeg 2050), which aims to ensure there are 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050.
Arfor 2 is a new programme to be delivered by local authority partners which will help strengthen the economic resilience of Welsh language strongholds.
As part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru and building on the experience and evaluation of the earlier Arfor programme launched in 2019, the Welsh Government funding will be available to the four local authorities of Gwynedd, Ynys Môn, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.
The main objective of Arfor 2 is to support the communities that are strongholds of the Welsh language to flourish through economic interventions which will also contribute to increasing opportunities to see and use the Welsh language on a daily basis.
It will also help:
- to create opportunities for young people and families (under 35 years old) to stay in or return to their indigenous communities, supporting them to succeed locally by engaging in enterprise or developing a career
- to create enterprising communities within Welsh-speaking areas, by supporting commercial and community enterprises that aim to preserve and increase local wealth by taking advantage of the identity and unique qualities of their areas
- to maximise the benefit of activity through collaboration, to ensure that good practice and lessons learnt are shared and that there is on-going monitoring to ensure continuous improvement
- strengthen the identity of communities with a high density of Welsh speakers, by supporting the use and visibility of the Welsh language, encouraging a sense of place and local loyalty
Today’s announcement outlines that agreement has been reached with partners in the local authorities on a programme of activity that will help support our Welsh speaking communities, work will now continue on the detail of the proposed interventions.
The Arfor 2 programme will also look to promote the learning and sharing of good practice and broaden our understanding of the links between economy and language and identify those interventions which can make a difference.
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said: "I am pleased that through collaborative working with local authorities and with Plaid Cymru, we have reached agreement on a strategic programme of interventions for Arfor 2 which has potential to make a significant difference in our Welsh speaking heartlands taking forward our ambitions of spreading economic prosperity. By working with our local authority partners, we want to support communities that are strongholds of the Welsh language to flourish through economic interventions and contribute to increasing opportunities to see and use the Welsh language on a daily basis."
Designated Member, Cefin Campbell, said: "By working together we are building on the successes of the Arfor pilot which aims to support and grow the local economy and the Welsh language together. The investment of £11m in this scheme is a direct boost to the economies of the west that will further promote entrepreneurship, business growth and help protect the Welsh language. We want to make sure communities in these areas can thrive and people are able to stay in their local communities for work or to grow a business."
The Economy Minister and Designated Member announced the new funding package for Arfor 2 during a visit to Canolfan S4C Yr Egin in Carmarthen and met with local entrepreneurs.
One of the aims of establishing Yr Egin was to act as a catalyst for promoting and strengthening the Welsh language and economy in Carmarthenshire. Since opening, Yr Egin has become a busy community of creativity where there is focus on sharing, collaboration and business development.
The Minister and Designated Member also had a taste of Carmarthenshire honey by Mel Gwenyn Gruffydd, a Carmarthenshire based business which benefited from the first phase of Arfor. Gruffydd, Co-founder of Gwenyn Gruffydd Ltd, said: "Having had support through the Arfor Scheme has meant that a small honey business like ours has been given a chance to flourish in a rural Welsh speaking community. It has allowed me and my wife to be full time in the business and enabled us to create a further Welsh speaking job within the business too. It has meant that we have been able to stay in rural West Wales, build a business, create jobs and promote the use of the Welsh language through our work. Being part of Arfor has enabled us as a business to contribute to the Welsh language by giving talks and presentations to local groups and community too."
Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, Cllr Darren Price, said: "We are pleased that Carmarthenshire based businesses and communities will be able to access support from the Arfor programme which will provide both economic opportunities across the county as well as support the development and sustainability of the Welsh language.
We look forward to hearing from local organisations and businesses on their exciting concepts to nurture and sustain the ethos of the new Arfor programme.
By working together with Arfor partners across the West, we have an opportunity to deliver a programme of innovative interventions that will encapsulate the relationship between the Welsh language and the economy."
The Leader of Anglesey County Council, Councillor Llinos Medi, said: "Our businesses and communities face a number of difficulties at the moment and it’s great to be able to announce such a significant scheme and financial package.
Arfor has already show its worth during the first stage of the programme. On Anglesey, 55 local businesses were assisted through an investment of around £400,000. This money either safeguarded or created 80 jobs and promoted the use of the Welsh language in 48 businesses."
Cllr Medi added: "I welcome this announcement and look forward to seeing our local economy continuing to benefit from implementing this important programme."
Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn, Gwynedd Council Leader, said: "I welcome today’s announcement and very much look forward to strengthening the links we have forged through the Arfor project. Our communities may seem vulnerable in some ways, but simultaneously they are vibrant and exciting places with much to offer. I am confident that this investment will help increase opportunity and so encourage our young people to stay and build their lives here, further safeguarding our language, culture and way of life."
Councillor Bryan Davies, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, said: "We welcome the Welsh Government's commitment to once again invest in the Arfor Scheme, to continue the work of supporting economic growth, and to support the Welsh language in Welsh heartlands.
The young people and economy of Ceredigion have already benefited from support under the original Arfor scheme, and this further investment will boost our efforts to realise economic growth and opportunities for young people to take advantage of the opportunities that exist to build a successful career here in Ceredigion."