Swansea Council helps young people kick-start their careers

Swansea Council helps young people kick-start their careers

Hundreds of people are gaining valuable experience in the workplace thanks to two Swansea Council initiatives that help them find work.

Yousef Alzyoud is with Swansea Council on the Workways+ scheme

The Workways+ scheme offers training, paid work experience and volunteering opportunities to unemployed people over 25 to help them improve their lives and find employment.

It has already supported more than 1,000 people living in Swansea. Some have benefited from paid work experience opportunities in the council’s waste department.

As part of the council’s economic recovery plan and in response to the impact of the pandemic, the council is now offering more than 300 paid work placement opportunities to unemployed people through Workways+ and fellow employment scheme Kickstart.

These opportunities are available across a range of roles in local businesses and organisations, with more than 100 positions based at the council itself.

The UK Government’s Kickstart has seen more than 20 new recruits join teams such as parks, building services, waste management and security.

All recruits are supported by department managers, with wrap around support being provided by a team of experienced mentors and employer liaison officers in the council’s economic development and external funding team.

The support provided has been key to help young people realise their potential, increase their skills and maximise their chances of accessing employment opportunities following their placement.

Yousef Alzyoud, aged 44, of Penclawdd, began a Workways+ placement with the council’s waste management team, June 2021.

He said: “Before starting the placement I was struggling with being unemployed and not being able to provide for my family.

“I’m now supporting them without needing to claim state benefits, which is a positive outcome for us all.

“Since joining Workways+ my mentor has helped me every step of the way and supported me with applications and my CV.

“My paid work opportunity at the council is giving me much-needed hands-on work experience.

“It’s boosted my confidence and wellbeing, and the staff here are extremely supportive.”

Craig Cherrington is with Swansea Council on the Workways+ scheme

Craig Cherrington, 39, of Morriston, began a Workways+ placement with the council’s waste management team, June 2021.

He said: “This opportunity has been excellent – it’s got me back into work and has boosted my confidence.

“I love working with the team in the council’s recycling centre and get so much out of the fact that I’m working with the public and enjoying what I do.

“The support given by the Workways+ team is amazing; they’ve been there the whole time, helping me on this journey and giving me this amazing opportunity.

“I’d recommend Workways+ to everyone on benefits as it really is a way of getting you back into work and back on track. Go for it, it’ll change your life!”

Raymond Davies is with Swansea Council on the Kickstart scheme

Raymond Davies, 18, of Townhill, began a Kickstart placement with the council’s waste management team, July 2021.

He said: “Kickstart has turned my life around and has helped me out a lot.

“If a young person’s struggling to find work, I recommend speaking to their work coach.

“My placement is going really well, I’m learning different things and I’m happy where I am, hoping to get a full-time job.

“I get along with all the other workers and everyone’s decent.”

Daniel Thomas is with Swansea Council on the Kickstart scheme

Daniel Thomas, 25, of Treboeth, began a Kickstart placement with the council’s waste management team, August 2021.

He said: “Kickstart has given me the opportunity to build on skills and experience within the workplace.

“I’m really enjoying my placement – it’s nice to be earning proper money working with a great team.”

Robert Francis-Davies, council cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “We want to help Swansea people into work. Kickstart and Workways+ may be the schemes for many people and businesses.

“This type of initiative is helping Swansea to lead the way out of the pandemic. Our city’s £1bn regeneration programme will also be a major driver of future success.”

Alyson Pugh, cabinet member for supporting communities, said: “The council does a lot to help local people and Kickstart – which has seen opportunities for around 100 young people to work within the council – will mean more skills and confidence among the local workforce.

“I’m delighted that young people joining the council on this scheme feel so positively about our work with Kickstart.

“Workways+ is also proving to be popular and successful.”

As an approved Kickstart Gateway the council can help employers secure funding to cover those placements.

Kickstart provides funding for employers of all sizes to take on those on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. The £2bn initiative is part of the UK Government’s plan for jobs across England, Scotland and Wales.

Employers and young people interested in considering Kickstart’s six-month job opportunities in Swansea can find out more here – www.swansea.gov.uk/kickstartscheme. Inquiries: kickstart@swansea.gov.uk, 01792 637112.

Workways+ has been supported by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government. To find out more about Workways+ phone 01792 637112 or log on to www.workways.wales.

Swansea Council

Caredig, the new name for Family Housing Association

Caredig, the new name for Family Housing Association

Family Housing Association, an organisation that provides affordable rented housing and a range of support services to people in South and West Wales, has changed its name to Caredig.

Tenant, Jo Ashford (L), Chief Executive, Marcia Sinfield (R)

Caredig (pronounced Ca-rae-dig) means ‘Kind’ in Welsh, which reflects the organisation’s core purpose of creating better homes and services for communities, putting the delivery of person-centred services first. These are values which are very much aligned with those of 4theRegion.

At 4theRegion, we’re focused on making sure that regional projects are delivered in a way that provides economic, social and environmental benefit over the long term, and how ensuring that the well-being of people and planet is at the heart of decision-making.

Our members Caredig manage over 2,800 affordable homes across the region. Over the years the organisation has diversified and now provides much more than bricks and mortar. With its partners in health, housing and social care, Caredig also contributes to the development of thriving communities providing extra care schemes, supported housing and mental health services.

Marcia Sinfield, Caredig’s Chief Executive, said:
 “We are delighted to announce that we are now called Caredig, which is a much better reflection of the housing and support we provide. I’m enormously proud of our staff and we’ve had great feedback that the name, with its link to kindness, really embodies who we are and what we do.

“Here at Caredig we’re really excited about the next stage of our journey, we have ambitious plans and are already building new homes and delivering new services so that we can reach more people, making a difference to people’s lives.”

Tenants have also welcomed the change of name, saying that it reflects their experience of the organisation.

Jo Ashford, 71, a Caredig tenant living in Morriston, Swansea, said:
“The name reflects the organisation and my experience of them. They have been kind and empathetic and have made a real positive difference to my life. When I first became a tenant, at the age of 66, I was worried about finances and the Housing Officer showing me around the flat did a housing benefit application for me there and then. I didn’t think I would find a home that was nice and affordable so to be able to walk into a lovely new clean flat with a safe roof over my head meant the world to me. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve had nothing but kindness from them.”

Work set to start on site at Swansea city centre local services hub

Work set to start on site at Swansea city centre local services hub

A big step is about to be taken in the creation of a new central Swansea location for the city’s main library and other key services.

The Swansea city centre building being transformed into a community hub

Contractors are set to begin preparatory work in the former BHS/What! building next week.

In under two years it is due to be a local services hub. Current proposals are that it will offer easy access to council services, including the library that’s set to move from the Civic Centre. It’ll be joined by a range of other services – and the hub could offer access to the West Glamorgan Archive Service.

The hub, along with other city centre work hubs, will protect or create thousands of jobs and increase footfall in the city centre over the coming years.

The proposal for the local services hub – currently including a new central library and other key services – is being developed by Swansea Council. When open in 2023 it will be visited by thousands of people every week.

The council is also making progress on innovation hub 71/72 Kingsway – where building work is due to start this year – and on a public sector work hub between the eye-catching new Copr Bay bridge and St Mary’s Church.

The Swansea city centre building being transformed into a community hub

Council leader Rob Stewart said: “Progress is being made on these three major employment hubs that will bring people to our city centre; the public sector hub alone will create and protect thousands of city centre jobs.

“At the former BHS building – right next to Castle Square, which we also plan to revitalise – work crews are set to go in from next week. They will carry out important tasks to prepare for the building’s transformation in the months to come.

“We want residents to have easy access to all council services – such as the library – and to bring more people to the heart of the city centre.

“Our public services hub will do that. It’ll be accessible, conveniently located and digitally enabled; the former BHS is ideal as it’s within minutes walking distance of city centre shops, services, car parking and public transport routes.

“It’ll provide access to all and provide a range of services in a welcoming environment where people can meet and participate in social activities, learning and support groups.

“There’ll be agile accommodation for third, public and private sector companies that endorse the ethos of a community hub. Flexible, collaborative space will encourage a coordinated approach in improving the quality of people’s lives.

“By converting an existing building, we avoid the cost of putting up a new structure, reduce overheads and help revitalise the city centre that’s already undergoing a £1bn regeneration.”

A team of leading property professionals is working with the council on the project. They are experts in design, architecture, engineering, project and cost management.

Led by project and cost management specialists Coreus Group, the local services hub team includes architects Austin Smith Lord, mechanical and electrical engineers SDS, structural engineers Jubb and principal designer PHD Property Advisory.

It will secure jobs in the city centre, increase footfall for nearby businesses and give long-term use to a prominent building. It will help the city tackle the economic shock of the pandemic.

Further public consultation on the project is due to take place in the coming months.

The preparatory work will mean the temporary closure of the lane between Marks & Spencer and the former BHS and of a small number of bays in Park Street East car park. There are hundreds of parking spaces nearby – www.bit.ly/CityCentreParking

More: www.swansea.gov.uk/communityhub

Swansea Council

Market shoppers set to enjoy a stunning new attraction at famous venue

Market shoppers set to enjoy a stunning new attraction at famous venue

An exciting new era for Swansea Market is set to start soon.

How the market’s new eating, meeting and greeting area – the Market Garden – will look

The iconic venue is about to become yet more welcoming to people who shop, work and live in the city centre.

Construction work is due to start next week on a creatively designed new area at the heart of the market where people can eat, work and enjoy themselves.

The work will take several weeks, with disturbance kept to a minimum and the market remaining fully open. Transparent fencing will go up around the construction area to keep people safe and to maintain sightlines for neighbouring stalls.

The green-themed Market Garden – due to open in good time for Christmas – will feature more than 170 plants together with an assortment of comfortable, garden-style tables and chairs for visitors to enjoy food and drink bought from a wide variety of market stalls.

Operated in line with latest Covid guidelines, it will have free public Wi-Fi, power charging facilities, recycling bins and a water station to refill water bottles.

Highchairs will be available to those with young children. There will be warmers for baby bottles and food – and there will be a toddlers’ play table.

For the first time, dog lovers will be able to bring their well-behaved pets to the market. Dogs will be able to enjoy a bowl of water at Swansea Jack’s kennel – as long as they follow the market’s new “doggie rules.”

The market, run by Swansea Council, attracts more than four million shoppers a year in non-pandemic times and is the permanent home to more than 100 businesses.

The Market Garden logo

Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “The Market Garden is part of a £440,000 improvement programme at this wonderful venue.

“It will help the market play a key role in Swansea’s great future, being led by our £1bn regeneration scheme.

“The new feature will be accessible, inclusive, well managed and will bring new footfall for traders to benefit.

“It’s designed for the benefit and enjoyment of all customers – for meeting friends and family, catching up on emails and enjoying the fantastic range of food available from the Market.

“It’s set to become a popular destination and is a flexible space that can also host events and exhibitions which will help attract a broader audience.

“These are exciting times for the market and the wider city centre.”

The Market Garden, which will be next to the famous cockle stalls, will be visible from every direction due to its 7.5m-high pergola, the shape of which mirrors the market’s monumental domed roof.

The new attraction’s design and name were decided by the public as part of a consultation exercise this year. Traders had an input too.

Key for the traders was maintaining sight lines across the market. This was achieved by designing an open pergola without any walls but onto which decorative features can be hung to add greenery and create atmosphere.

Once built, The Market Garden will stand on an under-used and relatively unattractive space in the centre of the market. It currently has tables rented by the day by casual traders.

They will cease trading in that area after this Saturday but will remain in the market, hiring space at a smart new area a few yards away and still next to the world-famous stalls that sell cockles, laver-bread and other delicacies.

More: www.swanseaindoormarket.co.uk

How Swansea’s Market’s casual trading area looks now

Swansea Council

Go ahead for new team to deliver transformational Afan Valley resort

Go ahead for new team to deliver transformational Afan Valley resort

A new delivery team has been given conditional planning approval to take forward the transformational Afan Valley leisure resort project which could create hundreds of jobs and provide significant social and environmental benefits for communities in the area.

The new team led by the Salamanca Group, a privately-held merchant banking business and home to experienced investors with a proven track record in delivery, were granted permission to progress the project to its next stages by members of Neath Port Talbot Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday.

Now named the Wildfox Resort Afan Valley, the adventure resort will encompass a hotel, hundreds of lodges, cafes, bars and facilities for skiing, hiking, cycling and other outdoor pursuits.

Martin Bellamy, Chairman and CEO of the Salamanca Group confirmed: “We are creating a new team with the expertise, finance and capability to deliver the Wildfox Resort to achieve positive social and environmental benefits for local communities. We appreciate the complexities of this project, the frustrations and disappointments of the past and understand what is required to turn it around.”

Neath Port Talbot Council Leader, Cllr Ted Latham, said: “This is an exciting proposal with potentially huge benefits for our residents in the Afan Valley and for the County Borough as a whole.”

Peter Moore, who developed Center Parcs in the UK, said: “I am delighted to be working with the new team to bring this project forward and remain passionate about the potential of the resort.”

Karen Jones Chief Executive of Neath Port Talbot Council, added: ‘The council has been working with the applicant and their agents for some time to ensure sufficient information was submitted to enable the council’s Planning Committee to thoroughly assess the proposed development. As part of this process, officers have been providing advice and guidance and I now look forward to working with the new delivery team to ensure benefits associated with the proposed development are maximised and potential impacts minimised.”

The planning committee’s resolution follows a period of uncertainty after the original decision to grant planning permission in March 2019, including significant matters of concern raised in the national press and on television concerning a director of Afan Valley Ltd.

The company subsequently went into administration, but with the support of Council Members and Officers, positive discussions with Peter Moore and Duff and Phelps (who were appointed administrators and interim managers of the leisure resort project) led to the submission of the new business plan, and at its Tuesday meeting, the council’s planning committee passed a further, final resolution confirming it was content the Wildfox Resort Afan Valley development is deliverable.

Neath Port Talbot Council

Market management job is dream role for Darren

Market management job is dream role for Darren

The man just appointed to manage Swansea Market says it is his dream role.

Swansea-raised Darren Cox is eager to make the iconic venue as welcoming and engaging as possible to traders, neighbours and customers.

He became market supervisor after a 27-year career in private sector businesses.

He now heads a market that, in non-pandemic times, attracts more than four million shoppers a year.

Managed by Swansea Council, it is the permanent home to more than 100 businesses, hosts casual traders and puts on regular events.

Darren said: “The market is so close to my heart that I’m thrilled to get this role – it’s a dream come true.

“Retail around the UK hasn’t had it easy for the past few years but I’m confident that the market can help traders – and the city – come back strongly as we work our way out of the pandemic.

“Swansea Market gives shoppers something that online shopping can’t – the human touch – and I want to ensure that all who visit feel safe, secure and welcome.

“We have strong relationships with our neighbours such as the Quadrant and the fantastic new arena and we’ll help Swansea as it continues to develop in such a positive way; the progress made on regeneration through the pandemic has been remarkable.”

Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “I welcome Darren to this pivotal role – he’s passionate about Swansea, the city centre and the market.

“He’ll be a vital source of help and information for traders, and is thinking hard about how to build upon the market’s success, retain existing customers and attract new shoppers.

“Our award-winning market is a beating heart of the city centre and Darren has a major role to play in that.

“He joins the market with improvements on the way – a venue that’ll become increasingly popular and busy as our £1bn city centre regeneration work evolves.”

Darren was raised in Sketty, educated at Olchfa School and vividly remembers being taken around the market by his parents as a young boy.

His first job – soon after graduating from University College Birmingham – was in Tenerife as a holiday rep. He then worked on the island for 25 years in roles such as commercial and operations management.

Before joining the market he was operations manager with the Swansea-based La Braseria group for two years.

Darren lives in Swansea with his partner Natasha and her daughter. He also has an adult son and daughter.

At the market, he replaces John Burns who retired as supervisor in the summer.

Last year the venue was named Britain’s best large indoor market by the National Association of British Market Authorities.

Market online: www.swanseaindoormarket.co.uk

Swansea Council