As an early start to celebrating Europe Day, WCVA hosted an event in Cardiff Bay. Aboard Challenge Wales’ newly acquired, European funded, 60ft vessel, guests and social businesses celebrated and showcased the impact European Funding is having across Wales.
event saw the new vessel moored alongside the existing Challenge
Wales boat outside the Senedd and gave guests the opportunity to
look around both, above and below deck. Skipper, Andy Hall gave an
overview of the charity, which provides adventure residential and
day voyages to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, helping
broaden their horizons and enabling them to reach their full
potential. Challenge Wales received over £60,000 from Social
Business Growth Fund (SBGF), which is supported by the European
Regional Development Fund (ERDF), towards the purchase and refit of
their additional sea-going vessel, to strengthen the charity's
current activities in West Wales. This also enables the expansion
of service into North Wales and Ireland as well as other ports
around the UK.
The keynote speaker of the evening was Professor Mark Drakeford,
Cabinet Secretary for Finance.
He said: 'Helping social businesses develop is an important goal
of the Welsh Government. This is an expanding sector providing jobs
and volunteering opportunities to around 100,000 people in Wales
and worth an estimated £2.4bn to the Welsh economy. It's fantastic
to see how EU funds are helping support our goals, raising the
aspirations and prospects of so many young people, particularly
those from marginalised backgrounds for whom these experiences can
The event was marked by the raising of an ERDF flag especially
made for the occasion by another South Wales based social business,
Red Dragon Flagmakers, hoisted by two young people to have sailed
previously with Challenge Wales.
This all provided further evidence of the legacy of previous
rounds of European funding. WCVA's Communities Investment Fund
helped Challenge Wales buy its first vessel and has again supported
them, alongside SBGF in the acquisition of the second. Red Dragon
Flagmakers is another to have benefitted from such investment,
helping WCVA achieve its aim of establishing an evergreen loan fund
for the sector, continuing to finance social businesses long after
the original European funded project finished.
The waterside event was followed by a reception at Caffi Sїo
(Chapter in the Bay), another social enterprise to benefit from
SBGF with nearly £40,000 towards the cost of creating a second home
for Chapter's award winning cafe bar. Andy Eagle, CEO of Chapter
Arts welcomed guests and spoke of the impact of the funding in
supporting Chapter's sustainable business model, which allows the
ongoing delivery of its arts programme, community and education
work and artist development.
Michelle Noble and Roxane Dacey, co-founders of The Food Shed
CIC, another award winning social business providing meal delivery
services across much of south Wales also told their story. They
spoke of the difference to people's lives, particularly the elderly
and isolated, that they will be able to achieve as they expand
their business with £60,000 from SBGF. Yet another success story,
previously backed by loan funding from Development Bank of Wales
delivered through WCVA
Among the guests was a range of local social businesses all of
whom took the opportunity to demonstrate what they have achieved
through their own hard work and a helping hand via financial
assistance from SBGF
Professor Drakeford said: 'This is another example of the
positive impact EU funds are having in Wales and are crucial to the
third sector. More than £55mof EU funds have been invested in
projects led by the sector, making a major contribution to tackling
poverty and creating a stronger and more inclusive labour market.
This demonstrates the vital importance of replacement funding from
the UK Government following Brexit so we can continue to target
investments for the benefit of our people, businesses and
communities across the nation.'