Ideas and innovation: Making Ceredigion an even better place to live and work

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‘Merched Medrus’ Women’s Business Network in Lampeter.

Over the past two years, the Cynnal y Cardi Local Action Group (LAG), has supported 24 rural community led ideas totalling £841,300.

The Cynnal y Cardi LAG, administered by Ceredigion County Council, has helped to make ideas become a reality through project development, evaluation, feasibility studies, facilitation, training, mentoring, consultation and pilot projects. Each of the projects supported fall under five areas of activity, for example, enhancing the natural and cultural resources of Ceredigion; trialling product/processes and creating new business partnerships and networks; exploring new ways of delivering services, facilities and activities; exploring renewable energy opportunities and making the most of digital technology in local communities.

70% of the total costs was received through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

Some of the projects supported include feasibility studies. Gweithgor Dyffryn Aeron’s ongoing project, ‘Pweru’r Dyffryn’ (Powering the Valley) explores possible opportunities for renewable energy in the Aeron Valley, whilst Pentir Pumlumon’s ‘Upland Regeneration Study’ aims to better understand the opportunities the area has to offer to local residents, businesses, visitors and tourists. Cynnal y Cardi is also working with MIND Aberystwyth to establish the practicality of developing a local environmental site into a community hub based on a core of ecotherapy services and activities.

During 2017, Jig-So Children’s Centre saw impressive results, providing a local service to families in Cardigan and the surrounding area with its pilot project, ‘Cegin Prydau Plant – Holiday Kitchen’. 61 local families, who didn’t readily have access to healthy and nutritious meals during the school holidays, have benefited as part of the ‘Cegin Prydau Plant – Holiday Kitchen’ project. Here they learned how to prepare healthy meals on a budget. 5,698 meals were prepared, 15 volunteers/staff were trained and 69 training sessions were held.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic and Community Development, Ceredigion County Council said, “I am delighted to learn of the progress made by the projects approved by the LAG over the past two years. Each project began as an idea – an individual or a group’s desire to enhance and develop the economy of their local rural community. The results prove that a lot can be achieved through a shared vision and commitment.”

At the beginning of 2017, the Cynnal y Cardi LAG also commissioned the piloting of a ‘Women’s Business Network’ in Lampeter.  The Merched Medrus project offered an opportunity to develop an informal network for women in business to share expertise and knowledge. Benefits also included mentoring between members, building new skills, increasing confidence and support for women to build better businesses. Six months on and the group has established itself as a strong network which continues to provide opportunities to collaborate and innovate.

Chair of the Cynnal y Cardi LAG, Mared Rand Jones said: “It’s refreshing and encouraging to see this level – and breadth – of community led activity in Ceredigion. I look forward to seeing how future innovative ideas and projects develop in our rural communities.”

Cynnal y Cardi would like to hear from individuals, groups, organisations or businesses with innovative community led ideas. The next closing date for expressions of interest is Monday, 11 December 2017.