Emma Shepherd, Communications Officer at Building Communities Trust, introduces Invest Local – a programme that hopes to bring lasting, positive change to 13 communities across Wales.
Over the next ten years, we’re going to be working with thirteen communities across Wales on a programme called Invest Local. Each community gets £1million for their local area – but the difference with Invest Local is that the community decides exactly what they will spend the money on.
Some communities might decide that community transport is a priority, others might want to concentrate on employment, health, taking over a community building, developing local businesses, supporting families with young children, activities for young people… whatever the community decides is important to them. And because all communities are unique, the programme will look very different in each area.
There are only two criteria. Firstly, we want as many people as possible from the community to have their say in how the money is spent. And secondly, we’d like to see projects that are long-term and sustainable, so that when Invest Local ends, there’s a lasting legacy for the communities.
We started our work in the autumn of 2015 following a £16 million endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund, so we’re still at the very early stages of the programme, going out into communities, getting a feel for the work that already goes on there, meeting the people that live there and finding out how they feel about the local area. At the time of writing we have four communities that are officially on board: Penywaun (Rhondda Cynon Taf), Cefn Golau (Blaenau Gwent), Llwynhendy (Carmarthenshire), and Hubberston and Hakin (Pembrokeshire).
Next we’ll be starting the ‘Getting Going’ phase, releasing a small amount of funding to each community to consult as many people as possible from the local area about what’s important to them, then starting to produce a plan for the area about how the money will be spent. We’ll work alongside existing community groups and organisations that work in the area. Not all decisions have to be made now – as Invest Local is a ten-year programme, we fully expect plans to evolve and change over the course of the programme.
We’re really excited to see which direction the project will take in each area, and how communities use the money. Over the coming months we’ll be announcing the remaining nine communities once they’ve agreed that they want to get involved in Invest Local. To keep up-to-date, you can visit our website, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.