Through the Connecting Communities in Wales Project, we’ve been able to improve connectivity and accessibility for communities all across Wales. By creating new and innovative partnerships, as well as supporting community transport providers to find funding for new projects, we’ve made sure that people all over Wales can stay connected to the people and places they love.
Project’s we’ve supported
We’ve worked with existing community transport providers, as well as those in communities across Wales who want to set up new community transport schemes, to get the funding, support and expertise they need to connect their communities. The following are some of the new projects that have been set up or have been awarded funding as part of Connecting Communities in Wales:
The Bank Bus
One of the projects supported by Connecting Communities in Wales is Hay Dial-a-Ride’s Bank Bus Project. It’s a sad reality in rural communities across Wales that high street and over-the-counter banks are closing down. The popularity of online banking services means that there are less and less local services available to people. This has been the reality for one rural market town in Powys. In 2018, Hay on Wye experienced the closure of its last over-the-counter bank, something which caused a great deal of worry for local residents, particularly older ones, who relied on the service to do their banking, benefitting from the familiarity, re-assurance and face to face nature of the local bank.
Following an initial pilot scheme and passenger survey, which highlighted a distinct need for people in the community to access banking and other services, Hay Dial-a-Ride and the Connecting Communities in Wales team submitted a successful funding application to the Big Lottery Awards for All fund, which meant they could provide a free of charge, monthly Bank Bus service which has hugely benefited their passengers, delivering access to banks, other essential services and reducing loneliness and isolation
Last year, CTA member Neath Port Talbot Community Transport were approached by Birchgrove Community Centre and Birchgrove Older Persons Association who are based in the neighboring county of Swansea. The local community groups were concerned that they were losing their local public bus service, a loss that would have a devastating impact on the people who relied on it. Older, disabled and vulnerable people in-particular would be disproportionately affected by the loss of the service as they’re less likely to own or run a car and would undoubtedly suffer greater levels of loneliness, isolation and a loss of independence.
With the support of CTA’s Connecting Communities in Wales project, they set about looking for funding to cover the cost of running and extending the service. In January 2020, together we’d identified an appropriate funder and supported the project to write a funding application to the Big Lottery Fund and as a result, NPTCT were delighted to hear they’d been successful, with an investment of £10,000, enabling their Town Rider to start delivering journeys.
The Our Opportunity to Travel Project is another example of how Connecting Communities has helped fund new community transport schemes in areas where a community was struggling. In the summer of 2018, after delivering a MiDAS training course for a group of volunteer drivers, the trainer and development manager of Dolen Teifi Community Transport, Rod Bowen, was approached regarding the lack of affordable and accessible community group transport in Ammanford, South Wales.
Rod was told that the main barrier that people in the Ammanford area face when trying to access social and other opportunities was not just the lack of a community transport service, but that there was a lack of affordable and accessible public transport in the first place, which only increased the need for community transport.
From there, Dolen Teifi began to consult with key individuals, community groups and other stakeholders in Ammanford, as well as the CTA’s Connecting Communities in Wales team. We were able to support Dolen Teifi to scope out a project which would fill a gap in community transport provision in Ammanford as well as help develop and write an application for funding to the Big Lottery People and Places grant scheme.
The Ways to Wellbeing Project run by O Ddrws I Ddrws is a flexible, door to door community transport service which enables people to attend vital medical appointments, go to the hairdressers, visit their bank or building society, do the supermarket shop or attend activities and social groups. The project came to life after almost £100,000 of funding was secured with support from the Connecting Communities in Wales team.
Ideas were developed through community consultation and feedback from a range of stakeholders (such as volunteer drivers, existing beneficiaries, local Well-being Partnership members, and representatives from community groups). Funding was secured to help with day-to-day running costs (£10,000 Garfield Weston Foundation) and with a Ways to Wellbeing Project (£100,000 National Lottery People and Places Programme). The aims of the project include providing a regular transport to hospital service; offering more group outings; setting up local ‘Panad a Sgwrs’ (‘Drink and Chat’) groups, and linking up with external services to encourage and enable people to get to outdoor activities.
Being a member of a community group, society or local club can often give people a sense of belonging. By coming together to take part in activities or attend days out, being a member of a community group gives people with similar interests the opportunity to come together, spend time with one another and enjoy each-others company.
The Collaborative Communities project, between Connecting Communities in Wales, Pembrokeshire Association of Community Transport Organisations (PACTO), Ceredigion Association of Voluntary Organisations (CAVO) and Dolen Teifi Community Transport, provides a dedicated community transport service for community groups in Carmarthenshire & Ceredigion. The project delivers support to community transport operators across Dyfed to develop their own community group transport services and in doing so, make a significant difference to improving quality of life and reducing loneliness and isolation for people living in West Wales.
The Forge Fach Community Centre in Clydach, Swansea is a community hub which provides services and activities for local residents. To make further inroads into tackling loneliness and isolation in their community the team at the community centre ran a pilot lunch club for older residents in 2018. A huge success, the pilot had an amazing impact on the wellbeing of the people that attended, helping them get out and about, socialise and make friends.
A key barrier in continuing the project however, was a lack of accessible transport, making it difficult for people to attend. Following an initial meeting, it was decided that the Connecting Communities in Wales team would define costs, develop a proposal and write a bid for funding to ensure that the group had the funds to make sure that as many local people as possible could attend, especially those who have a disability and who live a few miles away from the venue.
Find out more about Connecting Communities in Wales:
Connecting Communities in Wales has received funding 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.
Community Transport Association UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Cardiff no. 1985361 Registered office: 12 Hilton Street M1 1JF. Registered as a charity in England and Wales no. 1002222. Charity Registered in Scotland No. SC038518.