A new community hub has opened at a train station to help job seekers and tenants get on the right track.
Transport for Wales (TfW) and the Welsh Government are behind the pioneering scheme at Llandudno station, where a vacant room has been renovated for use by the local community.
The one-stop-shop is being managed by housing association Cartrefi Conwy and its not-for-profit subsidiary, Creating Enterprise, which is supported by more than £100,000 funding from the Welsh Government through Transport for Wales and Avanti West Coast.
They use it to run a job café and job search support, a Ready for Employment training programme, advice on work placements and volunteering, and skills building sessions.
It also hosts the Conwy Valley Community Rail Partnership, extending their reach to Anglesey and accessing more communities in Wales.
The new hub was officially opened by Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Government Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd.
Coincidentally, Ms Griffiths was also the guest of honour at the official launch of Creating Enterprise in 2016 when she was the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty.
The Minister said: “This innovative project at Llandudno station is part of our ambitious programme of work to improve our transport network in North Wales and is also a boost for the town centre.
“The aim is to bring back to life unused spaces at railway stations for the benefit of local people so they can continue to play an important role at the heart of the community. The station is right in the middle of Llandudno and this will also help with encouraging people to use our town centres”
The scheme was among the first of its kind in TfW’s Station Improvement Project and is also benefitting from Avanti West Coast’s Station Community Fund. TfW’s head of community rail, Hugh Evans, said: “The new community hub at Llandudno station is the forerunner of a raft of other initiatives which will make a real difference in the Welsh communities we serve.
“The initiative also promotes the important agenda enshrined in the Well-being of Future Generations (2015) Act and the railway is the perfect vehicle to support community projects like this.
“Another major benefit is that by working with organisations like Cartrefi Conwy and Creating Enterprise we are also making our stations safer and more welcoming places.”
Joanna Buckley, Community Manager at Avanti West Coast added: “We want to connect people and places to opportunity, and we hope that the new hub in Llandudno will make a real positive impact for all those who use it. The initiative is more relevant than ever, given the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and how it is effecting communities and passengers along our route.”
Among the first people to benefit from the new community hub was Traci Demir.
As a single parent, Traci had been out of work for five years as a stay-at-home mother. Wanting to get back to work once her daughter started school, she approached Creating Enterprise for job search support and as a Cartrefi Conwy Tenant she was eligible for the Employment Academy.
Traci was successful in her interview and is now a Community Caretaker for Cartrefi Conwy, on a 12-month placement with full support from a mentor.
Sharon Jones, director of partnerships at Cartrefi Conwy, said: “We are grateful for the fantastic support we have had from Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government to establish the community hub which is accessible to all.
“The facilities we have here are helping us have a positive and transformative impact on the lives of the people for whom we provide support and guidance.
“Our mission as a social enterprise is to help people fulfil their potential so that they can progress and thrive.
“Hopefully, the community hub here in Llandudno can serve as the torchbearer for similar initiatives across Wales.”
Andrew Bowden, the chief executive of Cartrefi Conwy, added: “Our new business plan outlines our ambitions to collaborate and create new partnership opportunities that directly benefit the communities we serve and the creation of this new hub is a great example of how working together can make a real difference to people’s lives.
“We own and manage around 900 homes in Llandudno and this hub will provide an invaluable one-stop-shop for our tenants and the wider community.
“And that’s what Cartrefi Conwy and Creating Enterprise are all about – creating communities to be proud of.”