This week, Welsh Government ministers announced the first three projects to be allocated funding from the Foundational Economy Fund, and a growing regional business is proud to be among the successful recipients!

Gower Gas & Oil is an “organically Welsh” sme based in Llansamlet, Swansea, whose core business is the provision of heating installation, repair and maintenance services to public sector clients throughout Wales.  The company was one of many firms to submit a bid for funding from the hugely over-subscribed Foundational Economy Fund this summer.

Securing £81,478 for their project, director Julie Jones is delighted to be in a position to help rebuild the region’s foundational economy, through an innovative homegrown initiative that aims to offer work placements to young people at risk of “falling through the gaps between education and employment”.

It’s a problem that Julie has witnessed across Wales for over 15 years, and she is determined to address the challenge.

“We see nowadays that many young people lack the skills required to enter the workplace and moreover they are daunted by inexperience or there is a degree of learned dependency. We see that this renders our young people vulnerable to all manner of modern social crises and poor lifestyle choices. It is a huge and growing problem facing smaller communities who are ill-prepared and where deprivation of opportunity can lead to exploitation of our young with associated low and sadly high-level criminal activity.”

Through their project, Gower Gas & Oil will give participants real workplace experience, all the benefits of positive role modelling from their experienced and trusted staff, and a realistic view of what it’s like to work as part of a busy and dedicated team.  It’s an initiative designed to show young people that there are plenty of options to progress their careers on a non-academic pathway.

Dawn Lyle, director of 4theRegion, is delighted to hear that one of their member businesses has secured FECF funding.  “It is great that the Welsh Government has recognised, with this funding award, the role that regionally-based SMEs play in rebuilding lives in some of our most deprived communities.  Through providing meaningful work, training and sustainable employment close to home, businesses like Gower Gas and Oil improve lives for people and for their wider communities – which has so many knock on benefits in terms of well-being, regional resilience and economic prosperity.  With the support of a good employer, young people can be redirected from a culture of dependency and despondency, towards a more self-sustaining and participatory life, having a role in society and supporting themselves and their dependents.”

And it’s not just young people and local communities that this Welsh business cares about.  Julie is also dedicated to ensuring that Gower Gas and Oil is a force for good in the world, with their commitment to being part of the solution to the environmental crisis.

“Our contribution to reduction of the carbon footprint is a priority, ensuring that work is provided as close to the employees geographical home area as possible, using skilled labour to ensure we are making appliances run effectively reducing waste, and using the skills of highly trained staff to fix things rather than remove and send to landfill appliances with plenty of efficient functional life remaining; thereby reducing the unnecessary carbon waste of parts, transport, packaging materials and precious resources. Our company is at the forefront of innovation ensuring the installations we choose are the best and most affordable for the economy and the environment, and we provide growing support for heating installations using renewables.”

The Gower Gas and OIl project is among the first three projects to be awarded Foundational Economy Funding, out of a total of more than 40 anticipated projects.  Alongside them, Swansea County Council is being awarded £27,000 for a project to help small construction firms bid for local authority contracts.  And Circular Economy Wales is being awarded £100,000 to create a ‘Mutual Credit System’ based on the model in Sardinia that allows companies to trade with one another with credits instead of cash that must be re-used within the regional economy.

It was also announced this week that the Foundational Economy Fund has been increased to almost £4m, to enable as many projects to be funded as possible.

Further reading: What actually is the Foundational Economy?