10 ideas for change: Cardiff and south Wales

Published: 29th Sep 2015

barrybadossmallThere are no shortages of social initiatives across south Wales, with locals giving their time and energy to help improve the places they live in, drawing on the country’s strong community traditions. Here are ten of the best:

  1. Setting up co-working hubs for small businesses and freelancers: Indycube: A co-working company that has locations all over Wales, from luxury offices in Cardiff to desks in a converted church in the town of Ferndale in the valleys. Co-workers pay a flat rate of £10 a day for office space and wifi, makes it accessible for all, and those signing up are learning the benefits of collaborative working. http://indycube.cymru/
  1. Breathing new life into a small seaside town: Barrybados: A café owner coined the word ‘Barrybados’ to describe the Welsh seaside town of Barry Island. Two locals, tired of hearing that ‘Barry is not what it used to be’, took the brand and ran with it, producing a new website and branded products and helping the town re-gain a sense of pride. http://www.barrybados.com/indycube
  1. Getting a whole city timebanking: The Cardiff Time Credits Scheme: Cardiff is hoping to become the world’s time banking capital with the launch of the first city-wide timebanking currency. Following on the success of timebanking through organisations like ACE, the scheme will see public, private and community organisations contribute opportunities for citizens to earn and spend time credits.
  1. Building and supporting community level enterprise: The South East Wales Community Economic Development programme (SEWCED): Over the last five years the SEWCED consortium – set up by the six councils in the south Wales valleys – has helped create and develop community level enterprises, including Elite Paper Solutions, which provides job opportunities for disabled people, and mobile app company Big Click. http://sewced.co.uk/
  1. Developing solar power schemes on community buildings: Egni Solar Co-operative: One of the first solar co-operatives in Wales, Egni Solar raised £171,000 from a community share offer in 2014 and has used the funds to install solar panels on community centres and schools. The community building sites planned for 2015 are all in south Wales: http://egni.coop/


The Abacus arts venue in Cardiff
  1. Supporting people into work: Grow Enterprise Wales: Part of housing association RCT Homes, this social enterprise provides training and jobs opportunities through its creative services division, and through the provision of environmental and property services. http://www.grewcorporate.org.uk/
  1. Providing community level banking: Robert Owen Community Banking: Taking its name for social reformer and co-founder of the cooperative movement, this social lender offers business and home loans as well as a Community Energy Fund for organisations wanting to set up renewable energy projects. https://rocbf.co.uk/
  1. Creating a platform for grassroots art: Abacus: An unused building in the centre of Cardiff was taken over by a collaboration between arts collective the Modern Alchemists and co-operative media organisation ProMo-Cymru in 2014. Since then it has provided artists studios and workspaces, rehearsal space for musicians, and hosted numerous events and exhibitions. https://theabacusrooms.wordpress.com/
  1. Repurposing Wales’ oldest institute for today’s workplace: The Ebbw Vale Institute: The Ebbw Vale Literary and Scientific Institution dates back to 1849, and once trained locals in technical skills to equip them for jobs in the steelworks and other heavy industries. After being abandoned for many years, the building has been brought back to life and refitted to help today’s generation learn skills in creative arts, event management and entrepreneurship. It has a recording studio and rehearsal rooms, hosts local businesses, and runs training and workshops as well as a range of community activities. http://www.ebbwvaleinstitute.org/
  1. Uniting city centre traders: Cardiff Business Improvement District: The Cardiff Business Improvement District has recently got off the ground and will bring together the local trading community to make improvements from which they can all benefit. The BID area covers the city centre of Cardiff and is hoping to raise £5m over the next five years. http://cardiffbid.com/

Comments (1)


On the time-credits scheme, by my reckoning that makes it Cardiff, Coventry and Birmingham. Add that to what we’re doing here in Manchester and what’s beginning to emerge is something with critical mass and the potential beginning of cross-city working. Hull are also onto something similar with Hullcoin.

We really ought to get better organised to ensure that our activities are joined up and don’t duplicate.

Do get in touch if you agree!

Thanks, @mikeriddell62

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