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Village SOS calls answered with £325k for rural Welsh projects

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Village SOS
Tackling rural isolation
Evaluating Village SOS
Release date:
3 12 2012

A community electric transport scheme in South Wales and a mobile catering business in North Wales are among the rural enterprises being offered grants of up to £50,000 from the Big Lottery Fund today to breathe new life into their areas.

A total of eight communities across Wales are sharing in the £324,218 awarded from the Big Lottery Fund’s (BIG) Village SOS scheme. Village SOS aims to inspire a rural revival across the UK and support rural communities that may be struggling with issues such as isolation, ageing populations, and the closure of local amenities (full list of projects at end of release).

The grants of between £10,000 and £50,000 are available to help rural communities with less than 3,000 people develop plans for enterprising projects that answer local need or improve services for local people. From community-run shops and pubs to energy or transport schemes, craft or food projects, a range of groups have been funded under Village SOS.

One of two projects funded in Pembrokeshire, the Cilgwyn Community Group based in the village of Cilgwyn near Newport will run the EVini Shared Electric Vehicles powered by our renewables project with the £24,600 they have been offered. The group will use the funding to buy an electric van and car to establish a community electric transport club which will provide a car sharing facility for the community.

This will alleviate the need for second or unused cars and offer the community access to a transport ferry scheme which they currently have no access to. The van will be used to transport goods and fresh produce from around the region and renewable energy will be used to recharge the vehicles. The enterprise will generate income from membership fees and mileage charges which will be re-invested into the project to make it self-sustaining.

Highlighting the importance of the project and explaining how it will work, Vicky Moller, the Project Coordinator and Chair of the Cilgwyn Community Group, said: “We are really excited and it’s incredibly needed. Transport is a huge issue in the countryside and the numbers of buses coming through Cilgwyn are dwindling.”

“The nearest town, Newport, is three miles away and the bus route is two miles distance and only runs hourly and not at all in the evenings or on Sundays. People are therefore deterred from travelling if they do not have anyone who can provide a lift. This project is a green solution to a problem and provides a cheaper and convenient car sharing service.”

Available to all, local community members will use the electric vehicles either as drivers or passengers and the project will generate income through membership fees and mileage payments. The vehicles will be conveniently positioned close to where people live and members will be able to book the cars online as well. The cars will also use fuel from local green energy generated by wind turbines, solar panels and hydro electric power and from surplus renewable energy not used by the local village hall.

“There’s been some excitement in the community and many people aren’t purchasing cars at the moment because they’re waiting to see if this will answer their needs,” says Vicky.  

Two projects in Gwynedd, North Wales, have also been offered funding. One of the projects, Clwb Pêl-droed Llanllyfni, near Caernarfon, will use their £27,951 to establish Cwt Cwcio Llanllyfni - a mobile catering business which will provide affordable quality healthy meals for the community and increase contributions towards the local economy. The group will also provide opportunities for young people to learn the benefits of preparing from scratch locally sourced produce. The enterprise will generate an income through providing catering services for events and functions as well as the normal service, which will be re-invested into the project to make it self-sustaining. 

In the last few years the village has lost its shops, post office and the pub which has left a huge void in the community. This has led to a decline in community interaction with no venue for a regular meeting place. This will be addressed by the mobile catering service which will provide locally produced cooked food at reasonable prices initially twice a week, with the aim of instigating more social events.

Delighted with the funding, Darren Thomas, one of the community members behind the project, said: “We hope this project will provide us with a platform to develop the community of Llanllyfni and the surrounding area economically. It’s also a golden opportunity to develop more community spirit in the village by linking people to our project.”

“Llanllyfni needs a sustainable community venture and this is just the start of our plans. We will use existing local resources, such as the Memorial Hall, which will house the fridge and freezer to keep our produce. We will also utilise local food co-ops and farm produce.”

“This is part of our plan to raise money for a range of community projects and for community hubs such as the Football Club and the Memorial Hall which is in desperate need of attention.”

He added: “Community involvement will be integral to this project. It will be local community members who will be using the services and young people will be provided with opportunities to learn new accredited skills to enhance their employability. We’re looking forward to getting started and getting some momentum going now.”
Big Lottery Fund Wales Director, John Rose, said: “We are delighted to announce funding for some really innovative projects today, which are testament to the strength and creativity that exists in rural communities throughout Wales. This is a unique opportunity for these projects to start up community run enterprises, revive their local area and help buck the trend of rural decline.”

For further information and support about setting up a rural enterprise, please log on to the Village SOS website www.villagesos.org.uk For further information about the funding available from the Big Lottery Fund, log on to www.biglotteryfund.org.uk 

A full lists of projects in Wales.

Further Information
Fflur Lawton- Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 02920 678 237
Out of Hours Contact: 07717 513 418
Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030                          
Textphone: 0845 6021 659
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available at: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

Notes to Editors
• In Wales, the Big Lottery Fund is rolling out around £100,000 a day in Lottery good cause money, which together with other Lottery distributors means that across Wales most people are within a few miles of a Lottery-funded project.
• The Big Lottery Fund, the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004. It was established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
• Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to Good Causes. As a result, over £28 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants given out across the arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.