South West Wales Connected

Here’s what our Community Changemakers grants will help local groups achieve this year

We recently announced the recipients of our 2022 Changemakers Fund grants – and what an inspiring selection of groups they are. They include a wellbeing allotment project, a heritage railway, a theatre company, a local park group and many more.

In total, £15,004.23 was awarded and we can’t wait to see the results these groups and organisations achieve with their grants.

The Community Changemakers Fund is an initiative created by South West Wales Connected Community Rail Partnership (SWWCo) to support the communities along the railway line throughout Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea. 

The fund, now in its second year, directly supports local groups and organisations who want to drive positive local changes in these communities.

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

We were hugely impressed by the applications and delighted to be able to give them the financial support needed to make their visions a reality. In total, 20 organisations have received grants. Here’s a run-down on just a few of them.

Hubberston and Hakin Community Centre were awarded £1000 to install battery storage to store solar electricity generated by their 33 PV solar panels. The batteries will enable the centre to fully benefit from the solar panels and will reduce energy costs and their carbon footprint, making the community centre a more sustainable venue.

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

Carmarthenshire Wellbeing Project were awarded £970 to continue development with their allotment project, which requires smaller items needed for propagation, materials for crop protection, consumables, items of PPE and shelving spaces to manage storage. The project involves a group of people who have been homeless or vulnerably housed, and of low economic means, who will benefit greatly from this project and access to the allotment throughout the year. 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, by encouraging the interest of growing crops and creating a sense of achievement among the group, which will provide the opportunity to engage and take part in something successful.

“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,” says Stephanie Latham, Senior Support Worker at The Wallich. “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.”

The Friends of Neath Abbey Iron Company were awarded £950 to obtain ladders to continue maintenance on the ironworks. The group have transformed the ironworks into an inspiring community space and heritage spot with Green Flag status. To continue with upkeep of the ironworks, they required long ladders to continue clearing vegetation, preventing further degradation of the monuments, including the 70ft high furnaces and on top of the walls of the engine manufactory. 

“This grant will make a tremendous difference,” says Peter Richards from the Friends of Neath Abbey Iron Company. “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. 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.”

There are many more excellent initiatives now hard at work putting their Community Changemakers grants to good use – head here for full details and stay tuned for Community Changemakers 2023!