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Four friends helped by new Carmarthenshire housing initiative

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A GROUP of friends from Bristol who wanted to support each other through varying physical and mental health issues sold up and moved nearly 100 miles away to a small holding in Llandybie, Carmarthenshire.

The four friends – Roz, Heather, Chris and Jo – found that they were unable to support each other adequately while living in different areas across Bristol. They decided to move their lives, and for one of them their career, so that they could be closer together and are now living together in a terraced house in Ammanford while working on the smallholding.

Collectively, they formed the MeddwlCoed co-operative, and bought fifty acres of marginal land, on which they hope, via the One Planet Development scheme, to create a self-sustaining, community-housing initiative which will provide affordable housing and benefit the wider community through courses, workshops and retreats.

Roz Clarke, who has fibromyalgia, explained that living in Bristol wasn’t working for the group: “We used to travel back and forth through Bristol to look after each other and help when it was needed, but it wasn’t easy. It was in around 2016 that we started chatting about how difficult it was becoming, and we thought that living closer together would make it easier to support each other.

“As a group, we also had similar views on living sustainably but were finding it difficult to make this a reality in Bristol so in April last year we upped sticks and moved to Carmarthenshire. Four of us now live together in our home in Ammanford and we juggle the small holding with other work, and our medical conditions.”

Roz added that they had been welcomed with open arms by the local community: “We were worried that people would think we were raving hippies, but everyone has been so welcoming, helping us out in lots of ways and local farmers have been chatting to us about some of our initiatives such as fossil fuel free gardening and not deep ploughing on the farm.

“Now we’d like to encourage others to get involved in what we are doing at MeddwlCoed. We are planning a big tree planting event and would love people to come along and support and we can then chat to them about the joys of living in a nurturing and supportive co-housing project such as ours.”

Meddwl Coed is just one of a large movement of co-operative and community-led housing schemes in Wales that are being championed by the Wales Co-operative Centre with its Communities Creating Homes programme. The programme is funded by the Nationwide Foundation and Welsh Government.

Recent research commissioned by the Wales Co-operative Centre found that those living in community-led housing felt less isolated as they were surrounded by a supportive network, had improved mental health and wellbeing and had further developed their skills set as well as gaining improved levels of confidence.

Jocelle Lovell, Communities Creating Homes programme manager for the Wales Co-operative Centre, said: “MeddwlCoed is the epitome of a supportive and nurturing co-housing project, which was borne out of a real need for those involved. The fact that they are now looking for people to network with who share the same interests and concerns to partner with to deliver mutually beneficial outcomes from the land is wonderful and we wholeheartedly support them.

“Wales is facing a housing crisis, with many people not able to afford a home to buy or to rent. The problem isn’t going away, so we need new and creative ways to work around it – community-led housing schemes are an exciting development that solves the affordability problem and helps to create strong, like-minded communities.”

Jocelle added: “Anyone who feels isolated, lonely or is struggling in their current accommodation should consider developing something similar to MeddwlCoed. A place where people will be able to live in peace, but with help and support on hand should they need it. It’s the perfect antidote to today’s remote society.”

Wales Co-operative Centre has been supporting and championing the growth of community-led housing since 2012, and in April this year, it launched its Communities Creating Homes programme which aims to stimulate demand for co-operative and community-led housing throughout Wales.

With more than 30 schemes already in place across Wales, communities can be created for various purposes and shared visions. Where some schemes have been created to make housing more affordable for residents, others have been developed for people who want improved eco-friendly lifestyles.

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Community

CO-OP serves-up newest Welsh store in Carmarthen

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THE CO-OP is set to serve-up its newest food store in Wales following a £550,000 investment creating 15 jobs in Carmarthen.
The 2,500 sq. ft. new store – located on Job’s Well Road and opening on Friday, 6 December – runs on 100% renewable electricity, and provides a funding boost for local causes through Co-op’s membership scheme.

The store – which opens between 7am – 11pm daily – includes customer car parking, free ATM, a Costa coffee dispenser and bakery alongside its focus on fresh, healthy products, food-to-go, vegan and free-from foods, hot food, chilled beers, award winning wines, meal ideas and, essentials.

Co-op also offers a 10% discount off groceries to TOTUM cardholders (the new name for the NUS extra card) to support students during their studies.

Alun Roberts, Co-op Store Manager, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to carry out such significant investment in the area – It really is exciting to be opening Co-op’s newest Welsh store and we are looking forward to serving the community. Connecting communities and bringing people together is at the core of the Co-op and our aim is to operate at the heart of local life, a community hub. The investment is a great way to mark the Co-op’s 175th anniversary year!”

Chris Ellis, Co-op Area Manager, added: “Co-op is committed to making a difference and creating value in its communities – our focus is all about delivering what our members and customers want, need and care about, conveniently. We also want the community to know that they can become a co-owner and Member of their Co-op, and every time a Co-op product or service is bought by our Members, local community groups receive funding.”

The Co-op picked up the “Convenience Retailer of the Year” and “Food-to-go Retailer of the Year” titles at the latest Retail Industry Awards.

There are offers and promotions in and around the store to mark its launch.

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Community

Mobile library services put in place for Cross Hands

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OPTIONS are being explored for a temporary home for Cross Hands Library, pending a proposed permanent move to a purpose-built facility within the town.

The library will leave its current home at the Cross Hands Cinema building during December following expiry of a lease agreement.

Services will be provided from Carmarthenshire County Council’s mobile library from Saturday, December 7, until a new temporary premises is found.

It will provide a comprehensive range of reading materials along with iPad access to online services and will operate during existing Cross Hands library hours – 10am-5pm Mondays and Thursdays, and 10am-1pm on Saturdays.

The council said it welcomes suggestions from members of the public and businesses about a temporary solution.

Longer-term, there are proposals for the library to be permanently based at a new Health and Wellbeing Centre planned for the Cross Hands area.

Ian Jones, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Head of Leisure, said: “We would like to thank people for their understanding whilst we work towards the permanent provision of a modern, fully-equipped, and purpose-built library service within the Cross Hands area.

“We will shortly be leaving our current home at Cross Hands Cinema, and thank the trustees for welcoming us over the last few years.

“Our mobile library service will be operating in the area from late December, offering a good range of reading and audio material, as well as digital access for our customers.”

The current provision at Cross Hands Cinema will come to an end on December 7.

For further information, email libraries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or call 01269 598360.

Gwasanaethau llyfrgell teithiol ar waith yn Cross Hands

MAE opsiynau’n cael eu hystyried ar gyfer cartref dros dro i Lyfrgell Cross Hands, hyd nes y gwireddir y bwriad i symud yn barhaol i gyfleuster pwrpasol yn y dref.

Bydd y llyfrgell yn gadael ei chartref bresennol yn adeilad Sinema Cross Hands yn ystod mis Rhagfyr ar ôl i gytundeb prydles ddod i ben.

Bydd gwasanaethau’n cael eu darparu o lyfrgell deithiol Cyngor Sir Caerfyrddin o ddydd Sadwrn, 7 Rhagfyr, hyd nes y bydd safle dros dro newydd yn cael ei ganfod.

Bydd yn darparu amrywiaeth gynhwysfawr o ddeunydd darllen ynghyd â mynediad i iPad i gyrchu gwasanaethau ar-lein. Bydd yn gweithredu yn ystod oriau presennol llyfrgell Cross Hands, sef rhwng 10am a 5pm ar ddydd Llun a dydd Iau, a rhwng 10am ac 1pm ar ddydd Sadwrn.

Dywedodd y cyngor ei fod yn croesawu awgrymiadau gan y cyhoedd a busnesau ynghylch ateb dros dro.

Yn y tymor hir, mae cynigion ar gyfer lleoli’r llyfrgell yn barhaol mewn Canolfan Iechyd a Llesiant newydd sy’n cael ei chynllunio ar gyfer ardal Cross Hands.

Dywedodd Ian Jones, Pennaeth Hamdden Cyngor Sir Caerfyrddin: “Hoffem ddiolch i bobl am eu dealltwriaeth wrth inni weithio tuag at ddarparu gwasanaeth llyfrgell pwrpasol a pharhaol sy’n fodern ac yn cynnwys yr holl gyfarpar angenrheidiol, a hynny yn ardal Cross Hands.

“Cyn bo hir byddwn yn gadael ein cartref presennol yn Sinema Cross Hands, a hoffem ddiolch i’r ymddiriedolwyr am ein croesawu ni dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf.

“Bydd ein gwasanaeth llyfrgell teithiol yn gweithredu yn yr ardal o ddiwedd Rhagfyr, gan gynnig amrywiaeth dda o ddeunydd darllen a sain, yn ogystal â mynediad digidol i’n cwsmeriaid.”

Bydd y ddarpariaeth bresennol yn Sinema Cross Hands yn dod i ben ar 7 Rhagfyr.

I gael rhagor o wybodaeth, anfonwch neges e-bost at llyfrgelloedd@sirgar.gov.uk neu ffoniwch 01269 598360.

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Community

Big donation boosts Toybox Appeal

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The Christmas Toybox Appeal has received a huge boost thanks to a large donation.

Llanelli’s Business Improvement District (BID) handed over £600 to the council’s appeal team and it’s guaranteed to put a smile on a lot more faces this Christmas.

The money will be spent locally on gifts and toys for families who cannot afford to buy for their children.

Last year, over 6,000 gifts were donated to 957 children from babies from 18 months up to teenagers.

The appeal has been running for the last eight years and Carmarthenshire County Council staff are joined by volunteers to sort, wrap and deliver toys in the run-up to Christmas.

The council’s Toybox Appeal co-ordinator, Nia Thomas said: “We are thrilled to receive such a large donation off the BID. The money will go a long way in ensuring we reach as many families as possible who haven’t got the money to buy their children any gifts or toys.”

When you’re out and about doing your Christmas shopping this year, please spare a thought for those less fortunate families, and purchase an extra present to donate to the Christmas appeal.

Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at a number of collection points throughout the county by December 1. People can also donate gift wrap, scissors and sellotape for the volunteers. You can also give a monetary donation which will only be used to buy toys and gifts. You can send your contributions (cheques payable to Carmarthenshire County Council) to Building 2, St David’s Park, Job’s Well Road, Carmarthen SA31 3HB, or telephone 01267 246657 if you have a cash donation.

The BID chair, Lesley Richards said: “The number of stallholders at the food festival was astounding, so it only felt right to donate all that money to two great local initiatives. We thought that the event’s success should go as far as possible, so we agreed with Carmarthenshire Markets that we would donate the funds to two Llanelli-based initiatives that would benefit local people. These are, after all, the people who support our town centre.”

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