In 2021, Ceredigion County Council and its local partners secured funding totalling £2,830,546 for community projects through the Community Renewal Fund (CRF) provided by the UK Government.
Support was prioritised to help with projects that focused on investing in the county’s businesses, communities, infrastructure and developing skills of its residents.
The majority of the CRF-funded projects were able to start running their pilot programmes from 2022 onwards. The snapshot below and the following clip, https://youtu.be/Zt_x6dJhpCw reflect on some of the successes and benefits created as a result:
- AberInnovation Productivity Accelerator:
The Productivity 2 Prosperity programme ran by AberInnovation supported 11 businesses by providing manufacturing and productivity-related support to Ceredigion-based enterprises. Each business received a £5k cash grant, dedicated support through an Accelerator Manager and access to a series of key workshops and presentations. The enterprises’ progress was chartered and managed via a Productivity Roadmap, delivered by The Innovation Partnership Limited.
- AnTir Feasibility Project:
An action-based feasibility, capacity building, research and pilot project run by Tir Coed, the AnTir project is a learning, health and regeneration project engaging people in Land (Tir) and Woodlands (Coed). Providing practical skills for regenerative land practices, food growing and resilience, accredited training plus mentoring and support to trainees to progress into outdoor jobs or volunteering, a greater awareness of the natural world and improved wellbeing. Outcomes of the project so far include people gaining practical skills and newly developed qualifications in wildlife gardening, organic food production, garden services and outdoor first aid, while building personal and community resilience and improving habitats and outdoor spaces for local communities.
Run by AberInnovation, the 2022 programme was open to Wales-based entrepreneurs operating in the food, circular economy and bio-tech sectors. Five finalists were awarded funding to help bring their innovative ideas to fruition, with one of the start-up businesses going on to win further funding to produce PCR tests at a fraction of the previous cost of production.
- Mid Wales Challenge Led Launchpad:
The Mid Wales Challenge Led Launchpad Series ran by AberInnovation met a series of ambitious goals during its launch last year. These achievements included creating 14 placement and job opportunities for students in the region and helped start-up firms with £30,000 funding to help them develop novel solutions through research and innovation.
- New Skills New Start:
The scheme, run by Antur Cymru, has helped individuals explore self-employment, training, volunteering and employment by overcoming any barriers using a customised coaching approach. Features of the scheme included free workshops, one-to-one business advice and access to retail trading spaces in Ceredigion town centres for new businesses who were looking to test trade and gain retail skills and experience in a supported environment. A total of 112 businesses and individuals were supported by the scheme.
- Reverb - Area 43:
Area 43 is an inspirational charity, based in Cardigan that provides information, support, and training to young people aged 11-25 and counselling services to those aged 5-30. Area 43 runs a youth café, Depot, a safe, dedicated, quality meeting space for young people ranging in age from 14 to 25. The provision is determined by young people for young people, in partnership with adults, trusted professionals, and community partners.
Some of the aims of the Reverb project included offering a training and employability scheme to economically inactive, young people, predominantly those experiencing mental health issues, anxiety, disabilities, or disadvantage. The programme enabled young people to gain skills and practical experience within a safe, supported environment, making their prospects within the wider economy.
- Rural Community Engagement and Outreach Project:
Run by the Support and Prevention Service (formerly Ceredigion Youth Service), the project increased opportunities to run various activities that helped support the mental health and wellbeing of young people in the county. This included craft sessions run by Arts4Wellbeing, tonic surf sessions by Walkin on water surf school, outdoor courses by Tir Coed and day trips out. As a result, the Service saw an increase of referrals from Health, schools and other voluntary partners showing the pathways to support work well.
- Tir Glas:
Working with many regional partners, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s vision for Tir Glas is to make its Lampeter campus a living lab for excellence in the areas of sustainability and resilience, with a particular focus on local food and zero-carbon timber. Through the CRF funding (other funding sources have also been secured by the project) the University have already created three new academic courses and organised 10 business engagement courses with several more in development.
Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, Councillor Clive Davies reflected on the impact this funding has had: “It is positive to acknowledge that many businesses, communities, and individuals have benefitted from the Community Renewal funding received in Ceredigion. Some of whom that gained employment, support, or the funds to establish a business will reap the rewards for many years to come. It is funding like this that can transform lives for the better and help to deliver against key local priorities as set out in the Ceredigion Economic Strategy 2020-2035.”
The Community Renewal fund was part of a package to help local areas prepare for the launch of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) The Mid Wales Region has been allocated £42 million of funding for local investment from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) from 1st April 2022 to 31st March 2025. More details on Ceredigion’s allocation can be found here: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/business/funding-grants/mid-wales-regional-investment-plan