Toogoodtowaste, Cylch Meithrin Penderyn, The Fern Partnership and Duke of Edinbugh’s Award Cymru

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Toogoodtowaste is a social enterprise within the Rhondda Valleys, offering a free collection service for re-usable furniture, electrical and household items from local residents. These are then cleaned, repaired and serviced before being offered back out to local communities through their large charity showrooms – the most recently opened showroom being the former much-loved Victorian school in Horeb Street in the centre of Treorchy. 

Although a large National Lottery Community Fund grant had been secured, funds were still needed to provide an essential new roof for the facility. This is where a Vision Fund grant of £137,677 came in, making it possible to renew, and insulate the entire structure.

The new showroom has created employment for 3 new members of staff and offers at least 50 volunteering opportunities a year possible, enabling people to develop new skills and contribute to this important community resource. “The new roof will safeguard the building and reduce energy costs for years to come” said the CEO for toogoodtowaste Shaun England “and not only that – the grant has provided a new home for our barn owl tenants, who stayed with us throughout the building work and are nesting again now! We have also installed bat and swift nesting boxes to welcome even more visitors to our new showroom.”

Cylch Meithrin Penderyn

Established two years ago and based in Penderyn Community Centre, this social enterprise provides childcare and opportunities to play through the medium of Welsh before children reach school age. A Vision Fund grant of £11,945 supported staff time to enable registration of the Meithrin with Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW). Opening hours have now doubled from 2 to four hours each day, and 30-hour free childcare places are now available.  This not only provides local families with an improved service, but Meithrin staff have been able to increase their hours too.  “Before we registered with CIW, the limited 2-hour session period made it difficult for parents to take up paid employment” says Leader Emma Daily. “Now not only is our service much improved and extended, our own staff have a more secure future.”

The Fern Partnership (TFP) received a grant of £206,356

Working mainly in the Rhondda Valleys, TFP is a social enterprise specialising in a joined-up approach linking childcare (providing quality, flexible and low-cost childcare services) and community development.  TFP has now taken on the management of the former Infant School in the centre of Ferndale – now transformed and launched in July 2019 as a multifunctional ‘Hwb’, housing a nursery, the library, job search support services, co-ordinated provision of information and advice, and community spaces available for all to use. More than 10 new and sustainable posts have been created. Alongside capital and revenue funding from a range of sources, a Vision Fund grant of £206,356 contributed to capital costs and is supporting staff costs in the Hwb’s first year of operation.

Duke of Edinbugh’s Award Cymru (DofE) received a grant of £25,592

The DofE is the UK’s leading youth achievement award, helping young people from all backgrounds develop vital skills for life and work. A Vision Fund grant of £25,592 to DofE Cymru has made it possible for young people in four secondary schools in RCT to take part in this life-changing programme – pupils in Aberdare Community School, Ferndale Community School, Treorchy Comprehensive School, Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhondda are now taking part in the scheme.

Due to austerity cuts within RCT and changes within the youth service   there has been significant change in the way in which DofE is being supported. Without the support of the Vision grant School leaders would have found it very difficult to further develop the DofE Programme as they now have to   resource the programme independently for the first time.

Now, supported by a dedicated Operations Officer, over 200 pupils have enrolled on Bronze and Silver Award programmes, and over 15 teachers have been trained in scheme leadership skills. This means that when the grant comes to an end, the teachers will be able to run the programmes themselves – ensuring that hundreds more young people will benefit.  “We are passionate about the programme being delivered in RCT” says Ian Gwilym, Senior Relationships Manager with D of E Cymru. “Taking part is not only fun, it helps participants to grow in confidence, become more independent, develop new skills and experience challenges that all open doors to education and employment opportunities for any young person.”