Business Supports Community Regeneration

Article excerpt

Community Regeneration is a key strategy area for Business in the Community Cymru/Wales, which focuses on the most deprived communities as identified in the National Assembly for Wales (NAfW) Index of Multiple Deprivation.

Aligned to the NAfWs Communities First and Better Wales documents, BITC aims to engage member companies in tackling key social issues and to support them in developing their business practice to improve their positive impact in the workplace, marketplace, environment and community.

Businesses in Wales forged new partnerships to support the process of a pilot Business in the Community Cymru/Wales community regeneration and renewal project in the valleys.

The process of business support for this venture began in January, when members of Business in the Community's Cymru/Wales Economic Development Leadership Group, chaired by Janet Reed of British Gas Trading, met to discuss how their companies could support community regeneration projects.

The Group agreed to provide management time and expertise to support the development and sustainability of two projects as part of a pilot exercise including Blaenllechau Community Regeneration and the Penywaun Enterprise Partnership.

Under the guidance of the group, comprising business leaders from AA Insurance Services, Bank of Wales, S4C International, Celtic Energy, ntl: and Lloyds TSB they decided to support Blaenllechau as their first scheme.

Blaenllechau Community Regeneration (BCR) a community based, regeneration project serves the people of Blaenllechau and the surrounding areas of Ferndale, Maerdy and Tylorstown in the South Wales Valleys. A charitable organisation, it aims to provide relief from poverty and disadvantage, improve educational opportunities and to facilitate participation in community life.

In 1996, BCR opened the BELL (Blaenllechau Enterprise for Life-Long Learning), a three storey building hosting facilities and services including a community cafe, a full time nursery and creche as well as fully equipped computer suite where IT courses are held.

A range of other educational courses, social functions, holiday playschemes, conferences and seminars also help to address community needs as well as provide facilities for other organisations such as Swansea University, the University of Glamorgan and Rhondda College.

The existence of the BELL Centre has helped to create new business opportunities and jobs for residents in the area. The Centre is also used for seminars, conferences and meetings.

BCR are keen to ensure that everyone in the community has access to the facilities and that they are aware of what exists for them and not just for the young people of the area as is currently perceived. …