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Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog: a network of community enterprises

Date: 06.01.20 |Categories: Featured

We are delighted that Ceri Cunninton and Sel Williams from Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog will be joining us at the Growing the New Economy convention in Oldham on 12th February, to contribute to the breakout session, Building from the bottom up, which will look at how local partnerships are making a real difference.

Thanks are due to Ceri for this blog, which provides an insight into how Cwmni Bro is having a positive impact in its community.

Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog is a pioneering development in Wales; a network of successful community enterprises which have come together to co-operate under the banner of one overarching community company.

The company operates in the communities of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Trawsfynydd and Penrhyndeudraeth, as well as nearby villages, which between them have a population of about 8,000 people. Blaenau Ffestiniog was the second largest town in north Wales in 1900 with a population of about 13,000 people but, as the slate industry declined, the population had more than halved by the year 2000. Blaenau Ffestiniog is now one of the economically poorest areas in the United Kingdom. Despite the de-industrialisation, a cultural legacy survives, upon which an integrated and holistic model of community development is being pioneered by Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog.

There are more social enterprises per head of the population in Bro Ffestiniog than anywhere else in Wales. Thirteen of the area’s social enterprises have come together under the banner of Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog.

The diverse activities of these ventures include running two hotels, shops, restaurants, cafes, tourist information centre, leisure centre, arts and crafts workshop, mountain biking centre, retail, horticulture, energy production projects, developing allotments, educational and cultural activities, opera, environmental projects, energy saving promotion, reducing food waste, recycling, river cleaning, work with adults with supplementary needs, youth work, including homelessness and teaching environmental and media skills.

The company’s aims are to promote co-operation between the constituent social enterprises, nurture new social enterprises and work with small business enterprises which are anchored in the community. All of this is in order to promote the environmental, economic, social and cultural development of the area.

Between them, Cwmni Bro’s members employ some 150 people. A recent analysis of their economic impact showed that a high percentage of their income comes from trading. Further, this income largely stayed and circulated in the area. For every pound received as a grant or loan, a significant proportion, 98 pence, was spent locally, mainly on wages. Much of the £1.5 million wages is retained locally. Nearly half the expenditure on goods and services was local and thus circulated money in the area.

In August 2018, a new venture was launched, BROcast Ffestiniog; a community digital broadcasting service, aimed at facilitating communication between the social enterprises and the community and within the community (See BROcast Ffestiniog-YOUTube and facebook.com/BROcastFfestiniog).

The integrated and holistic model of community development which Cwmni Bro is pioneering offers a pattern other communities can emulate. Cwmni Bro responds positively to invitations to visit other communities to explain what has been achieved in Bro Ffestiniog and to discuss the general potential of this model of community development.

The model presents a challenge to government in Wales; to develop policies and appropriate support in order to facilitate the adoption of this model of community development across Wales.

CONTACT
Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog, 5 Stryd Fawr, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, LL41 3ES
CwmniBro@CwmniBro.Cymru
www.cwmnibro.cymru
Twitter: @cwmnibro

To find out more about the convention and to book, please click here.