CONWY county has become a UK hotspot for companies run for the benefit of the community.
Conwy has become only the second county in Wales and one of just 16 across the UK to be officially recognised as a hotspot of social enterprise.
Social Enterprise UK Chief Executive Peter Holbrook, joined Andrew Bowden, chief executive of housing association Cartrefi Conwy, who chairs Social Enterprise Business Solutions, the influential think tank which co-ordinates the work of 10 successful social enterprises in the county, for a two-day tour of Conwy’s social enterprises.
Social Enterprise UK Chief Executive Peter Holbrook said he had been very impressed by all the examples he had been shown in Conwy during his two-day tour.
Launched by Secretary of State for Wales David Jones in 2014 and set up by Cais Social Enterprises as part of a £1.4 million regeneration project, Porter’s occupies the former Judge and Jury pub on the ground floor of an elegantly refurbished Grade II listed building on Station Road.
It is also one of the key providers of the training and work experience placements offered by Cais, which in the past five years have helped more than 25 people into jobs, had more than 50 participants and successfully delivered around 100 qualifications.
Sarah Griffiths recently completed the 12-week Crew-IT course hosted by them and supported by Conwy Borough Council after finding out about the opportunity at Jobcentre Plus.
Made redundant in 2008 when Woolworths in Colwyn Bay was axed following the firm going into administration, she is now due to start work as a general assistant at the new B&M store in Llandudno.
Sarah said: "It was great to get the qualifications from the course and it's those which have really helped me to get a job.
"Coming here has really helped to build my up confidence and got me used to working with the general public again.”
Liz Wilson, project manager for Cais, said: “Our training programme Crew-IT is very successful, and has already helped our volunteers gain numerous qualifications, and helped 15 people to secure jobs.”
The team also visited TAPE, a social enterprise music and film company set up in 2009 in a former church building in Old Colwyn as well as Crest Co-operative, a community store based in Colwyn Bay which supplies quality second-hand furniture and white goods to the community, which provides permanent jobs for 27 people and operates a successful programme of work placements.
The tour was rounded off with a flagship Social Enterprise Place launch event for around 100 representatives of Conwy’s social enterprises and local authorities at the Y Morfa Stadium home of Conwy FC.
The club is a successful social enterprise after benefitting from the Vi-ability programme run by Kelly Davies, a former Arsenal and Liverpool ladies footballer from Abergele, and was recently named Social Entrepreneur of the Year.
Conwy FC has fought its way back to viability by using its new purpose-built HQ as not only a base for football but also a community hub rented out to local users such as slimming and camera clubs.