Social Saturday in Blaenau Gwent

A whole hosts of businesses based in Blaenau Gwent are holding special events on Saturday 14 October to celebrate Social Saturday, a UK-wide day of activity celebrating social enterprises.

Social enterprises are just like any other business but it’s what they do with their profit that makes them different. The money made by social enterprises is reinvested or donated to support social and environmental issues, from creating job opportunities to helping reducing poverty.

Eden Education Centre is just one of the 1,600 social enterprises in Wales using their profits for a social purpose. As South Wales' only purpose built LEGO Education Innovation Studio, the Eden Education Centre provides workshops for schools that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

New to the Education Centre, we will shortly be launching a 3D printing suite, Adele Jones, Centre Manager at Eden Education Centre said: ‘This resource will be available for classes to take part in workshops to show them how 3D printing works, it's relevance in today's industry and they too can have a go at creating something 3D printed. The facility inspires and encourages students to future-proof their education and to encourage them to strive for careers in high-tech roles.”

The centre is a registered charity and all profits are reinvested into the centre to further support students in the surrounding communities to create, engage and be inspired.’

Ebbw Vale Institute is kicking of celebrations on Friday night with Make Noise Wales 2017. The event celebrates recycling through music. Sweet Baboo will be the special guest plus supporting slots from Heavenly’s H. Hawkline and one of Wales’ most exciting new acts Boy Azooga. The Heavenly Jukebox will also be providing the late night party, spinning records.

The Make Noise manifesto provides exciting and innovative music events, 100% FREE in exchange for a piece of electrical recycling. You need to bring something to hand over at the door; a broken mobile phone, hairdryer or laptop – anything with a plug or a battery! Since it began, Make Noise has packed out venues all-round the UK and recycled tonnes of electronic waste.

Ty Ebbw Fach nestles in the bottom of the valley at Six Bells and is run by the social enterprise, Six Bells Regeneration. The building will be open on Social Saturday between 10.00 and 3.00 for a day of activities. There will be an exhibition  and display of what Six Bells Regeneration have achieved so far and visitors will be able to have a behind the scenes tour of the building to see the office space and conference and meeting facilities on offer. The Heritage Room will be open to explore the history of the village and the terrible loss of life in the fateful underground explosion. The café will be open and Six Bells Regeneration Director, Meg Gurney will be delivering free tours of Guardian, the Six Bells mining memorial.
Six Bells Regeneration Director, Hywel Clatworthy said: ‘Local people are aware of what we do here at Ty Ebbw Fach but Social Saturday gives us a great opportunity to tell everyone our story and show them what is on offer here.’

Beaufort Theatre is Blaenau Gwent’s newest social enterprise with their offer built around the 3 elements of music, dance and food. The Beaufort Theatre offers a space for classes, performances, meetings and special events in the heart of the community. The theatre boasts a cafe bar which serves excellent food and drinks, catering for all food tastes including vegan and allergens. They also support local producers and craftspeople with a range of local honey, handmade cards and coasters on sale. Sue Lewis, Artistic Director said, ‘on Social Saturday we are thanking the community by offering 2 for 1 on all meals served at our café. Taking on the running of Beaufort Theatre and Ballroom has been a steep learning curve and without the support of local organisations and our community we wouldn’t be able to keep the doors open. We have many new ideas for the future and I hope that we can continue to provide a cultural base in the area.’

The leisure and activity sector also showcases significant social enterprise businesses in Blaenau Gwent.
West Mon Golf Club was established 111 years ago and this members club is officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the “highest” in the UK. The fourteenth tee is the highest point of the course at over 1500 feet. The club will be hosting a Sign Up Saturday to celebrate Social Saturday with new members being entered into a prize draw. Club Secretary Karl Offers said: ’we pride our club as being a friendly place to play golf. The course was designed by Ben Sayer and this teamed with the local weather, offers golfers a challenging test of golf.’
Breaking Barriers are based at Llanhilleth Institute (also a social enterprise) and is a community arts business specialising in digital story telling. Manager and Digital Arts Practitioner, Natasha James said: ‘our story is very much about enabling others to tell their story. We have recently helped other social enterprises like Care and Repair and Merthyr libraries with celebratory films.’
All events in Blaenau Gwent are being promoted by BRfm our very own local social enterprise station. The station, which is solely run by volunteers, started broadcasting in 2007 and they have been entertaining and informing the people of the Ebbw Valleys ever since.

Other Blaenau Gwent social enterprises include Gymfinity, EBO Quality Signs and Aneurin Leisure who manage Parc Bryn Bach, Bedwellty House and Park, The Metropole, 3 Sports Centres along with local Libraries and Learning Action Centres.

Cllr Dai Davies, Blaenau Gwent Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration and Economic Development said:

‘Social enterprises are a very special part of the economy in Blaenau Gwent. We are particularly blessed in the creative and tourism sectors with theatres and art venues, radio stations, conference centres and heritage sites. They all play an important part in the cultural activities of our community.’

Nicola Mehegan, project manager at Social Business Wales said:
‘There are over 1,600 social businesses in Wales, so if every one of them came together on Social Saturday, we can make a massive impact on the understanding of the brilliant work they do, not only for the economy but for their local communities.

‘Getting involved in Social Saturday doesn’t have to be a massive strain on resource, we want it to make it as easy as possible for social businesses of all sizes to take part in any way they can, with lots of tips and useful tools on the website.

‘You don’t have to be a social business to support the campaign either. Customers can enjoy a day out at their local social eateries, shops, cinemas, leisure facilities and more. Or if you’re a business supplied by a social enterprise why not make it known how great working with them is’

Contact Information:
• Alyson Tippings 01495 355937 / 07968 472812,
• Sarah Jeremiah, 01495 353328,
• Adele Jones Centre Manager, Eden Education Centre, 01495 212722 / 07968 582480,
• West Mon Golf Club, 01495 310233
• Ty Ebbw Fach, 01495 211732,
• EV,I 01495 708022
• BRfm Office, 01495 311211, Studio 01495 313003
• Aneurin Leisure,01495 355959
• Beaufort Theatre, 07854 910926
• Breaking Barriers, 01495 420488, 07860266750

Social Saturday was started in Wales in 2013 by the Wales Co-operative Centre. It is now run by the Centre through the Social Business Wales project, with funding from Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund.