PyC funded them with Vision Fund grant of £26,000 back in November 2021. They had secured various pots of match funding, but it was an RCT asset transfer and proceed took a lot longer than anticipated and encountered many changes to budget and plan. They kept in touch with us throughout and when they had opportunity to draw down additional funds but that funder had restrictions on which elements they could fund, we all got together and tweaked our offer to ensure they could draw down the money.
Read more here: £26k Investment in Former Library sees it Transformed into New Sustainability Hub (businessnewswales.com)
They finally opened their doors in March 2023 – what has happened since?
• The project evolved from when we were granted PYC funding to when we opened – there was nearly 18 months delay! So, the idea evolved to include more of a café area, as well as the sustainability hub, in order to generate more revenue to maintain the building.
• We have sold over 100 units of Play It Again Sport items to the local community – a resource they would not have been able to access without this project, we have also sold over 150 zero waste or refill items – again, a resource that was not previously available. We have served over 500 drinks and used that as an opportunity to talk to people about how to live more sustainably: refills, reducing plastic waste and telling people about our workshops.
• The costings changed drastically from what was originally submitted to PYC, due to the delay in opening and the subsequent cost of living increases. There were also additional building works that hadn’t been costed for due to building regulations criteria changing throughout the project.
• We have hosted the following:
Two RCT CAN meetings for 30 people
Hanging basket workshop with Blodau’r Cwm for 12 people
Art from Litter workshop for 6 people
Jewellery Making with Soaring Supersoarus for 15 people.
Litter Picking event with RLPE with 25 people.
‘Make a Living Meadow’ workshop for Rhondda Arts Festival – 15 people.
Lino stamp workshop for 8 people.
Fortnightly repair cafes which have engaged with over 12 people.
Family eco-crafts every week which has engaged
AGM for People and Work for 13 people.
Weekly digital sessions and fortnightly games nights with over 40 people.
School workshops about sustainability and fairtrade for over 60 children
Litter picking with school for over 30 children.
We have achieved exactly as we hoped to do so, albeit over a year later than originally intended. We have a fully functioning café, a zero-waste shop, space for local artists and makers to sell their products, a fortnightly repair café and regular workshops to engage the local community and support them with loneliness, isolation and increasing skills, as well as providing a learning space about sustainability.
1. The workshops that they are hosting (hanging baskets, art from litter etc) have been funded by Community Foundation Wales, they are using these as a way to draw new and existing customers back into the Siop and to increase reach of the type of people they are engaging with. It also works as a way to generate income, as people invariably buy at least a drink whilst they’re visiting for a workshop! The Flower workshop they hosted was first workshop that had a cost attached to it, and it sold out! So, as a result, they are exploring hosting more events that will generate an income for them in this way. When they have hosted private events, this has been at a charge to the organisations, and as they have made the buffet this has also generated income for them and as people have been in the siop for the events they have been shopping the zero-waste, art and clothing items So, as a result of this they are looking to host ‘pop-ups’ by local caterers to draw different customers into Y Siop and increase portfolio.
2. They are in process of having a new kitchen fitted which will increase their scope with regards to catering.
3. Arts and crafts are selling although they don’t turn around very quickly as they are at a higher price point, but they definitely interest people and it’s great to support local artists, and they ask the artists to refresh every 3 months so that they can maintain interest.
4. Surprisingly the Play It Again Sport stock is what is generating the most revenue, but they are really hoping to grow the café area and they will focus on being vegan/veggie to create a really strong USP and point of difference.
5. Customers: they are every day getting locals coming in who haven’t realised they are open! The tables and chairs, A-board and hanging baskets outside have helped people to realise that the building is back in use, and they are persistent with social media and piggy-backing on other local businesses, which has helped them to start to create set of regulars, some for the café, some for zero waste items, and some to swap their books over, this group of people has been really important to them and they are using them for feedback and engagement
There is a need to diversify offering to generate more revenue and explore other ways of advertising what they do, so that they can tap into local people who are engaged with the type of work that they are doing. Due to Re:Make Valleys opening, they have decided to support their Benthyg rather than launch their own, so they will become a drop-off/collection point for their items – this also plays perfectly into the ethos of sustainability as it would be silly to have the same items available in such a short distance.
◦ To secure more funding to cover staffing through 2024.
◦ To complete the additional works (front garden paved and outdoor seating area completed, and downstairs kitchen renovated in order to make food on-site)
◦ Develop a vegan/veggie menu and begin serving meals.
◦ Host ‘pop-ups’ of other like-minded caterers to draw new clientele in
◦ Host regular, diverse workshops to introduce Y Siop to a wider and more varied customer base.
◦ Continue to work with the local community to identify what additional services we can provide them with
We’ve found advertising and promotion to be an interesting learning curve and have had to explore different ways to show that the siop is open, when people have been so used to it being closed for so long. We have found talking and working with local businesses has been as equally beneficial as working with customers and local community members; it has benefitted us (and them!) to work together, and this is an approach we will definitely maintain going forward.