I am the managing director of Clynfyw CIC, a care farm in north Pembrokeshire which uses the countryside, social enterprise and innovative, meaningful projects to engage with, and inspire vulnerable people, helping them extend their potential. I set Clynfyw CIC up in 2011 having been an organic farmer since 1998 and having run a series of socially-responsible diversification projects on the farm including accessible holidays, ‘green’ weddings, conferences… We use the ‘organic philosophy’ in all we do, running the enterprise with as little impact as we can. We have won numerous awards for our innovation and low-impact/sustainable endeavours. We have been recipients of Renew mentoring ourselves for several projects, most recently in relation to us buying an electric car to reduce the carbon footprint of running our enterprise. I have experience of winning council contracts and large grants and set up a domiciliary care agency to help us help more people. Prior to running Clynfyw, I worked as a cricket development office in Kenya, bringing cricket to the poorer areas around Nairobi. This made me understand some of the challenges facing the developing world and helped us develop projects at Clynfyw which have a local focus but global impact.
Tell us about an experience of working with Renew.
I was approached in November 2015 by the Ecoshop in Cardigan to help:
‘Make the Eco-shop more appealing, reach more people, improve publicity, improve the local image, look for new funding streams and overall development.’
Working for Renew, I met with the key workers and Board members as well as volunteers and people who visit the shop to gather as much information from them as I could. I already knew the shop reasonably well having been a customer myself.
I also set up an online survey giving anonymity to people who wanted to contribute but felt anxious over talking face to face. Based on this information I wrote an eleven page report bringing in recommendations relating to their internal and external systems, their marketing, customer awareness, volunteer training and also suggestions relating to overall governance and fundraising.
The long term outcome has seen some changes in the Ecoshop’s systems, policies and procedures, giving them more security and stability for the long term.
They have more volunteers (particularly people recovering from mental health issues—so helping the wellbeing of the community) , a speedier turnover of stock (what is not selling is moved on rather than clogging up space for items with more potential for sale) and they have improved their image locally becoming known for quality for their stock.
The shop has been painted to improve the presentation and staff and volunteers have had training to make the ‘whole shopping experience’ better for customers without losing the important issues that make the Eco-shop unique and special.
What is your vision for your region in 2050?
West Wales could be far more self sufficient in terms of food, energy supply and local manpower.
Through a focus on training and innovation, our young people could be inspired to change the region into a world leader. This can only be done with support from the present decision makers, and the decision makers will only enable this to happen if they can be convinced by innovative, community-focussed, collaborative schemes running now.
Schemes like Renew will help make small changes now, changes which will grow and have larger impacts in years to come.