Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly

In March 2021, it will bring together 50 people from the Blaenau Gwent area to address the question:

What should we do in Blaenau Gwent to tackle the climate crisis in a way that is fair and improves living standards for everyone?

The participants will hear evidence, discuss the issues, and produce recommendations for what local public service organisations, communities and individuals can do to address the climate crisis. The recommendations made will be considered by organisations including Blaenau Gwent Council and will help to shape the climate plans of local housing associations.

The Climate Assembly will explore the overarching question through learning about, and discussion of related sub-themes including housing, nature / green space and transport.

Lead Experts will present information on climate change and the sub-themes to provide context for the discussions.

The Assembly is being organised by four housing associations in Blaenau Gwent in collaboration with Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Electoral Reform Society, Cynnal Cymru.

A Steering Group has been established to oversee the organisation and format of the Assembly.

Find out more >>

Gwneud y pethau bychain ar Ddydd Gŵyl Dewi

Eleni, ar Ddydd Gŵyl Dewi, ‘rydym yn gofyn i sefydliadau ar draws Cymru ystyried y pethau bychain y gallant wneud i sicrhau nad oes rhaid i unrhywun yng Nghymru weithio am lai na’r Cyflog Byw go iawn, boed hynny’n cynnwys deall sut mae bod yn gyflogwr Cyflog Byw achrededig, ceisio annog sefydliadau eraill i ystyried y Cyflog Byw go iawn neu ein helpu ni i rannu negeseuon cadarnhaol am y gwahaniaeth y mae talu’r Cyflog Byw go iawn yn gallu’i wneud.

Y Cyflog Byw go iawn yw’r unig raddfa gyflog yn y DU a delir, yn wirfoddol, gan 7,000 o fusnesau sy’n credu bod eu staff yn haeddu ennill cyflog sy’n cwrdd â’u hanghenion beunyddiol – megis y siopa wythnosol, neu ymweliad annisgwyl at y deintydd. Yng Nghymru, mae 278 o gyflogwyr Cyflog Byw achrededig, a dros 11,428 o gyflogai Cymru wedi derbyn codiad cyflog oherwydd bod eu cyflogwyr wedi’u hachredu. Ar lefel y DU, mae’r Cyflog Byw go iawn yn cael cefnogaeth trawsbleidiol.

Er gwaetha’r heriau aruthrol a welwyd yn ystod y flwyddyn a aeth heibio, ‘rydym yn dal i weld momentwm parhaus o gwmpas y Cyflog Byw Go Iawn yng Nghymru. Yn 2020, roedd 55 cyflogwr ar draws holl sectorau a diwydiannau Cymru wedi cymryd y cam o achredu fel cyflogwyr Cyflog Byw, (o gymharu â 56 yn 2019). Drwy weithredu yn unigol, roedd y cyflogwyr hyn wedi codi cyfanswm o 4,300 o weithwyr i lefel Cyflog Byw go iawn.

Yn ȏl y TUC, mae bron chwarter o holl weithwyr Cymru yn derbyn tâl sy’n is na’r Cyflog Byw go iawn. Mewn ambell i etholaeth yng Nghymru mae’r ffigwr yn 1 o bob 3.

Yn ȏl y ddogfen ganlynol ddiweddar, sef y Joseph Rowntree Foundation Briefing, darganfuwyd bod 4 o bob 10 aelwyd sy’n wynebu tlodi yng Nghymru yn cynnwys gweithiwr llawn-amser ac, yn aml, mae dros hanner o’r aelwydydd yma yn cynnwys aelod sy’n gweithio; mae hyn yn dangos yn glir tra bod cyflogaeth yn lleihau’r risg o dlodi, yn aml nid yw’n ddigonol i alluogi’r unigolyn i ddianc rhagddo.
Mae talu’r Cyflog Byw go iawn yn cynnig llwybr i bobl ddianc o dlodi, ac yn golygu bod ganddynt mwy o arian i’w wario yn eu heconomïau lleol, ac ar y pethau hynny sydd o bwys iddynt.

Felly, wrth i ni ddechrau cynllunio’n ffordd allan o COVID, a sicrhau ein bod yn fwy gwydn yn y dyfodol, ‘rydym yn annog pob cyflogwr i ystyried pa bethau bychain y gallant wneud er mwyn gwella’r sefyllfa. Pa gam cadarnhaol gallwch chi gymryd heddiw? Mae dod yn gyflogwr Cyflog Byw go iawn yn gam bach sy’n gallu golygu newidiadau mawr i’ch gweithwyr, eich sefydliad a’ch cymuned.

Cynnal Cymru yw corff achredu’r Cyflog Byw go iawn yng Nghymru ac ‘rydym yma i’ch helpu chi drwy’r broses achredu. Cysylltwch â ni, ymunwch â’r mudiad, gwnewch y pethau bychain.

Dymunwn Ddydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus i bawb. Diolch yn fawr!

Mae’r holl ffigyrau yn seiliedig ar y data a oedd ar gael ar Chwefror 1 2021.

Gwneud y pethau bychain yng Nghaerdydd ar Ddydd Gŵyl Dewi

Eleni, ar Ddydd Gŵyl Dewi, ‘rydym yn gofyn i sefydliadau ar draws Caerdydd ystyried y pethau bychain y gallant wneud i sicrhau nad oes rhaid i unrhywun yng Nghymru weithio am lai na’r Cyflog Byw go iawn, boed hynny’n cynnwys deall sut mae bod yn gyflogwr Cyflog Byw achrededig, ceisio annog sefydliadau eraill i ystyried y Cyflog Byw go iawn neu ein helpu ni i rannu negeseuon cadarnhaol am y gwahaniaeth y mae talu’r Cyflog Byw go iawn yn gallu’i wneud.

Cyngor Caerdydd yw’r unig gyngor achrededig fel Cyflogwr Cyflog Byw yng Nghymru. Mae’r cyngor a phartneriaid yn hyrwyddo Caerdydd fel Dinas Gyflog Byw sy’n cael effaith cadarnhaol ar y Ddinas a’i gweithwyr. O Chwefror 1af 2021 ymlaen, mae 45% o gyflogwyr achrededig yng Nghymru yn dod o Gaerdydd ac mae cyflogwyr Caerdydd wedi cyfrannu at 69% o godiadau cyflog oherwydd achrediad. Mae ymchwil diweddar gan Brifysgol Caerdydd wedi dangos bod 124 cyflogwr yn achredu yng Nghaerdydd wedi arwain at 7,735 o weithwyr yn derbyn codiad cyflog sy wedi ychwanegu dros £32m at yr economi lleol o fewn 8 mlynedd.

Er mwyn clywed mwy am fuddion achredu fel Cyflogwr Cyflog Byw gwyliwch ar y fideo.

Dyma oedd gan y Cynghorydd Huw Thomas, Arweinydd Cyngor Caerdydd i’w ddweud:

“Mae’r pethau hynny sy’n ymddangos yn rhai bychain wir yn gallu gwneud gwahaniaeth mawr, a dw i’n deall yr effaith sylweddol y mae talu’r Cyflog Byw go iawn wedi cael ar fywydau ein staff ni. ‘Rydym yn falch i gefnogi sefydliadau ar draws y ddinas, i’w galluogi i wneud yr un peth ar ran eu cyflogai hwythau ac, ar Ddydd Gŵyl Dewi eleni, byddwn yn annog unrhyw fusnes sydd â diddordeb mewn talu’r Cyflog Byw go iawn i gysylltu â ni, a dysgu mwy am y cynllun”.


Mae Cyngor Caerdydd yn deall bod y buddion ehangach o’r Cyflog Byw go iawn yn gallu fod o fudd i unigolion a chyflogwyr yn ychwanegol a’r ddinas ac maen nhw wedi gwneud ymrwymiad i ad-dalu ffioedd i fusnesau bach a chanolig yng Nghaerdydd trwy’i chynllun cefnogaeth achrediad.

Am fwy o wybodaeth ar y Cyflog Byw yng Nghaerdydd ewch at y wefan.

Hefyd, mae cyngor Caerdydd yn annog cyflogwyr lleol i ddarparu cynlluniau cynilo a benthyciadau cyflogres, yn galluogi eu gweithwyr i arbed arian yn uniongyrchol o’u cyflogau ac os oes angen cynnig credyd fforddiadwy oddi wrth ddarparwr moesegol. Dewch o hyd i fwy o wybodaeth ar wefan Cardiff and Vale Credit Union.

Cynnal Cymru yw corff achredu’r Cyflog Byw go iawn yng Nghymru ac ‘rydym yma i’ch helpu chi drwy’r broses achredu. Cysylltwch â ni, ymunwch â’r mudiad, gwnewch y pethau bychain.

Dymunwn Ddydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus i bawb. Diolch yn fawr!

Doing the little things in Cardiff on St. David’s Day

This St David’s Day, we are asking organisations across Cardiff to think about the little things they can do to ensure a fair day’s pay for their workers, whether it’s understanding how to become an accredited Living Wage employer, or reaching out to other organisations to encourage them to consider the real Living Wage, or helping us share the positive messages about the difference that paying the real Living Wage can make.

Cardiff Council is currently the only accredited real Living Wage local authority in Wales. The Council and partners are championing Cardiff as a Living Wage city which is having positive impact on the city and its employees. As of 1 February 2021, 45% of Wales’ total accredited employers were based in Cardiff and Cardiff employers had contributed to 69% of total uplifts in pay. Recent research by Cardiff University has shown that real Living Wage accreditation by 124 Cardiff employers has resulted in 7,735 workers receiving a pay rise which has added over £32m to the local economy in just over 8 years.

To hear more about the benefits of the real Living Wage from employers and employees in Cardiff please watch this video.

Leader of Cardiff Council, Cllr Huw Thomas, said:

“The seemingly small things really can make a big difference, and I know the significant impact paying the real Living Wage has had in the lives of our own staff. We’re pleased to be supporting organisations across the city to enable them to do the same for their own employees, and this St David’s Day I would encourage any Cardiff business interested in paying the real Living Wage to get in touch to find out more.”

Cardiff Council understand the wider benefits that the real Living Wage can bring to individuals and employers, as well as to the City; and they have made a commitment to reimbursing accreditation fees for SME employers based in Cardiff through their accreditation support scheme. For more information about the real Living Wage in Cardiff please visit the website.

Cardiff Council also encourages local employers to provide a Payroll Savings and Loans Scheme to their staff, enabling their employees to save directly from their salaries and if needed, access affordable credit from an ethical provider. More information can be found on this on the Cardiff & Vale Credit Union’s website.

Cynnal Cymru is the accrediting body for the real Living Wage in Wales and are here to help you through the accreditation process. Get in touch, join the movement, do the little things.

We wish you all a happy St David’s Day. Diolch yn fawr!

Doing the little things on St. David’s Day

This St David’s Day, we are asking organisations across Wales to think about the little things they can do to ensure no one in Wales has to work for less than the real Living Wage, whether it’s understanding how to become an accredited Living Wage employer, or reaching out to other organisations to encourage them to consider the real Living Wage, or helping us share the positive messages about the difference that paying the real Living Wage can make.

The real Living Wage is the only UK wage rate that is voluntarily paid by 7,000 UK businesses who believe their staff deserve a wage which meets every day needs – like the weekly shop, or a surprise trip to the dentist. In Wales, there are 278 accredited Living Wage employers, and over 11,428 employees in Wales have received a pay rise as a result of their employers accrediting. At UK level, the real Living Wage enjoys cross-party support.

Despite the huge challenges of the past year, we have seen continued momentum around the real Living Wage in Wales. In 2020, 55 employers across all sectors and industries in Wales took the step of accrediting as Living Wage employers, (compared to 56 in 2019). By taking individual action these employers saw a total of 4,300 workers uplifted to a real Living Wage.

According to the TUC, nearly a quarter of all workers in Wales are being paid below the real Living Wage rate. In some Welsh constituencies that number is 1 in 3.

In a recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation Briefing, it was found that 4 in 10 households in poverty in Wales contain a full-time worker, and over half have someone in work, showing that while work reduces the risk of poverty, it often isn’t enough to allow someone to escape from it.

Paying people a real Living Wage gives people a route out of poverty and means they have more money to spend in their local economies, and on the things that matter to them.

So, as we start to plan our way out of COVID, and ensure we are more resilient for the future, we encourage all employers to consider what little things they can do to make things better. What positive action can you take today? Becoming a real Living Wage employer is a small step that can bring about big changes for your workers, your organisation and your community.

Cynnal Cymru is the accrediting body for the real Living Wage in Wales and are here to help you through the accreditation process. Get in touch, join the movement, do the little things.

We wish you all a happy St David’s Day. Diolch yn fawr!

All figures based on 1 February 2021 data

Living Wage for Wales

The Living Wage is an independent movement of businesses, organisations and people who believe a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. The real Living Wage is independently-calculated each year based on what employees and their families need to live. Employers can choose to pay the real Living Wage on a voluntary basis.

Organisations that pay the Living Wage have reported significant improvements in quality of work, reductions in staff absence and turnover, and a stronger corporate reputation.

The real Living Wage across the UK for is £9:50 an hour and £10.85 an hour in London. There are over 5000 Living Wage Employers across the UK with 224 Living Wage employers in Wales.



You can find how to become accredited by visiting our accreditation web page or by visiting the Living Wage Foundation website.

Foundational Economy Community of Practice

During 2020-21, Cynnal Cymru has supported a community of practice for organisations receiving funding from the Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Challenge Fund. Its aim is to share learning and innovation, build relationships and encourage collaboration.

The Challenge Fund aimed to support projects looking to try out new ways to address challenges – some emerging, some age-old – faced by foundational economy businesses or those relying on their services.

These included:

  • the recruitment, retention and skills of the workforce
  • the delivery structures and design of services
  • the recruitment, retention and skills of the workforce
  • the delivery structures and design of services

The aim was to explore a range of solutions that could potentially generate viable, adaptable models that could be scaled up and spread to strengthen local economies and community wealth-building.

Staring in 2019 with an initial 52 projects, it was always expected that some experiments would not succeed and conditions were made even more challenging by the impact of the pandemic.

A community of practice was also however put in place to help capture some of the rich learning and insights generated by all the projects taking part. The examples in the Case studies section of this site  give a flavour of the projects supported by the Fund – their successes, challenges and above all learning, about how best the foundational economy in their area or sector can be supported.

UN Global Compact Network UK’s Responsible Business & SDGs Summit

Business stakeholders are demanding companies do better. Inequality, climate change, plastic pollution – business has a critical role to play in addressing these crises. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the framework for responsible business to
help create the future we want.

With this in mind, the UN Global Compact Network UK is delighted to invite you to their Responsible Business & SDGs Summit. Taking place July 20th-21st, this flagship event will convene 2000+ CEOs, business experts, CSOs, investors, and high-level representatives from Government, the United Nations, and civil society. The Summit will share best practice solutions to sustainability challenges and inspire participants to new heights of responsible business leadership through support for the Global Goals.

The fantastic line-up of speakers includes Paul Polman, former CEO, Unilever and now Co-founder of IMAGINE and Co-chair, UN Global Compact, who will be opening the event.

Join the Summit to explore:
• Corporate reporting on the SDGs with GRI and PwC;
• Sustainable finance with leaders from the Global Compact CFO Taskforce for the
SDGs;
• Embedding ESG into your business;
• Local action and partnership to advance the Goals with the All-Party Parliamentary
Group on the SDGs;
• Business’ role in taking climate action (a formal debate!);
• Practical tools and inspirational action to raise ambition for the 2030 Agenda with B
Lab.

Discover the full program and register here.

Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly report and recommendations published

The Assembly was held virtually over two weekends in March and brought together over 40, randomly selected, demographically representative, people living in the county borough to deliberate the very important question: “What should we do in Blaenau Gwent to tackle the climate crisis in a way that is fair and improves living standards for everyone?”

The Climate Assembly adopted five recommendations relating to transport, housing and green space, which achieved over 80% support. These recommendations were written by the Assembly members themselves and informed by presentations from climate change experts.

You can view the recommendations and the report in full here

This report was drafted by Cynnal Cymru and the Electoral Reform Society Cymru, two of the organising partners of the Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly.

In September last year the Council officially declared a Climate Emergency in Blaenau Gwent. Next week, all borough councillors will have the opportunity to hear from Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly members about their recommendations and consider how they can take this agenda forward.

The Blaenau Gwent Public Services Board, which brings together organisations including the council, health, housing, police and the voluntary sector, have committed to giving a written response to these recommendations at their next meeting in July. This reflects Public Services Board partners’ long-term commitment to Blaenau Gwent playing its full part in taking action to achieve Wales’s target for Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Cllr Dai Davies, the Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Regeneration & the Economic Development, will be leading the briefing. He says:

“We are absolutely committed as a Council to working with a wide range of partners to do whatever we can to respond locally to this global issue. We recognise the huge challenges that are ahead of us all in trying to protect our environment for the well-being of our future generations. This is why as a Local Authority we declared a Climate Emergency and already started to act through our Decarbonisation Plan. This plan sees us take a more strategic approach towards achieving carbon neutrality by prioritising work in a number of key areas of our operations which, with some changes, can make a significant contribution towards our carbon neutral aim.

“The people at the Climate Assembly were equally passionate about our environment and their recommendations will help to focus our minds even further and tells us what they think is key to tackling this issue. Thank you to everyone who took part for your time.”

The report will also be presented to the Blaenau Gwent Public Services Board, as working with regional partners is key to addressing environmental issues.

Sarah Hopkins, Director, Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales, says:

“The transition to net zero will mean changes to people’s lives so it is vital that communities understand and participate in this journey. Tackling the climate crisis, provides an opportunity to address existing inequalities in Wales and improve lives for everyone. It is really encouraging to see the commitment of Blaenau Gwent Council, the wider PSB and the Housing Associations to listening and responding to the recommendations from the Assembly.

“We hope that other regions in Wales will also adopt similar processes to inform decarbonisation action plans.”

Steve Cranston, Foundational Economy Lead at United Welsh Housing says:

“We are delighted to have been involved in Wales first climate assembly. It shows it is possible to bring a representative sample of people together – and address one of the toughest challenges facing us all – the climate crisis. The Climate Assembly process is one that is respectful of different opinions and builds trust. The top 5 recommendations had overwhelming 80% support from members. This gives these recommendations a weight and credibility that is hard to ignore.

“The process of working together across housing associations, the local authority, civil society organisations and citizens has been a positive one where relationships have been strengthened and trust built.

“The four housing associations who supported the Climate Assembly – Linc Cymru, Melin Homes, Tai Calon and United Welsh – are working on developing a coordinated response to the recommendations. In the key areas of housing retrofit and new build the recommendations will help shape our future priorities.”

The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly was organised by housing associations United Welsh; Linc Cymru Melin Homes and Tai Calon in partnership with sustainable development charity Cynnal Cymru, Blaenau Gwent Council and ERS Cymru.

The 5 recommendations are:

Transport

  1. Establish an affordable, integrated road & rail transport system accessible throughout BG. A one ticket system that links to bus, rail & cycle schemes – inclusivity for purchasing of tickets (digital or paper). Accessible all hours with safety via lighting, CCTV and to keep maintained.
  2. Establish & improve a safe, easily maintainable infrastructure for walkers & cyclists, for either recreational or work purposes, with access to the public transport network. Including lighting & CCTV & storage for bikes.

Housing

  1. Retrofit Train local tradespeople, create qualifications and upskill local businesses, involve FE colleges and local Universities, future proof it and provide the right courses to enable them to do the work in all green construction.

Green Space and Nature

  1. Implement a programme of woodland preservation and reforestation of BG, using the right tree in the right place for the right reason, increasing opportunities for jobs, biodiversity and connecting woodlands. Making sure the skills are available so we can create green jobs, e.g. saw milling and timber framed housing.

Housing New Build

  1. Ensure that all new build properties are built using the latest sustainable technologies (e.g. Glanffrwd development as a template), employing local builders and providing a variety of accommodation types appropriate for all inc. homeless/single occupancy up to large families.

Empowering Change: New Eco-Literacy course launches on World Environment Day

At Cynnal Cymru we have always championed individuals and organisations that take action for sustainable development. We know there is no single solution as to how we can arrive at a more equal, abundant and sustainable future, which is why the array of different actions that we come across, from different sources and sectors, both excite and reassure us.

It is this faith in the ability of people to identify solutions that fit within the context of their own lives that has inspired our latest training course – Nabod Natur: Nature Wise – which was recently piloted with a range of organisations including Swansea Council, Mind Cymru and Welsh Government.

Aimed at explaining the global nature crisis that we are facing in an accessible way, the course provides an overview of the intricate way that ecosystems function to sustain life. It then explores the links between human activity and the disruption in natural cycles that we are experiencing – with climate change and declining wildlife being increasingly evident results.

The course also covers national and international frameworks for nature recovery as well as practical steps that are being encouraged or pioneered. Most important to us, the course creates the space for participants to apply course knowledge and concepts to their own lives, identifying the ways most useful and beneficial to them to act for nature recovery in their organisation, at home and in the community.

Launching a course like this is no easy thing with so many expert organisations already existing in ecology, education, behaviour change and action planning – in fact, everything that Nature Wise covers. Our aim was to bring together all these aspects and we are delighted by the reactions of our pilot attendees As an early participant identified: “You have empowered people to change and in today’s world that is a marvellous result.”

Nature Wise launches on 5 June: World Environment Day
First Open Course: 20 and 22 July: 2 x online sessions with optional self-directed study in between. Total time commitment 5-6 hours. Cost: £85 per learner with discounts for group bookings
To discuss bespoke training for your organisation or to book onto the first open course please contact training@cynnalcymru.com

Give nature a helping hand. Hundreds of new free garden packages available to communities

Last year, more than 500 gardens were created, restored and enhanced through Local Places for Nature. Community groups and organisations of all shapes and sizes got involved – from disability charities and youth groups to social enterprises and carer groups. 

Applications have now reopened, and communities are being urged to get involved early to avoid missing out. You can choose from small-scale fruit and herb, pollinator and urban gardens, or larger-scale wildlife and food growing gardens.   

Deputy Chief Executive for Keep Wales Tidy Louise Tambini said: 

“Over the past year, more people than ever have come to appreciate the value of nature on their doorstep. But urgent action must be taken to give reverse its decline. That’s why we’re so excited to reopen applications for Local Places for Nature.  

“Thanks to the ongoing support of Welsh Government and our partners, hundreds of new gardens will be taking shape across the country over the next few months.” 

The initiative is part of a wider Welsh Government ‘Local Places for Nature’ fund committed to creating, restoring and enhancing nature ‘on your doorstep’. 

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said:  

The pandemic has given us all a greater appreciation of nature and the way in which it underpins our health, economy and wider wellbeing. 

“The environment will be at the heart of our new government’s decision making, so I am delighted that we can continue to support our communities to do their bit to help out our plants, birds and pollinators across Wales. I encourage you to get together to take advantage of this funding so you can give nature a helping hand.” 

Hundreds of free garden packages are available. To apply, visit the Keep Wales Tidy website www.keepwalestidy.cymru/nature  

Award-winning refill campaign awarded £49,999 to help fight plastic pollution in Cardiff

Environmental organisation City To Sea has been awarded £49,999 from the Landfill Disposals Tax Community Scheme (LDTCS) to help cut plastic pollution in Cardiff. The funding, which will be administered by the WCVA over the next two years, will help to reduce single use plastic waste by growing the number of businesses offering refill and reuse options across the city.

The LDTCS funds projects within five miles of certain waste transfer stations or landfill sites. In Cardiff, it will fund the expansion of City To Sea’s Refill campaign, via their multi-award-winning app which connects people to places to eat, drink and shop with less plastic.
The app already connects conscious consumers with more than 1,800 businesses accepting reusables and providing free tap water refills in Wales – including museums, bars, galleries, and supermarkets; as well as smaller, family businesses, local cafes and restaurants.

But it’s hoped that the expanded campaign will increase the number of locations and types of businesses listed on the app in Cardiff, helping to make re-use and refill the new social norm. Customers will be encouraged to use the app to find out where to refill everything from their water bottle, coffee cup, and lunch box, to household cleaning products and toiletries.

Hannah Osman, Refill Wales Manager at City to Sea said, “We are thrilled to have been awarded this LDTCS Grant and will be working closely with communities and businesses in the Cardiff region to tackle the mountain of avoidable single-use plastic created every day. The long-term ambition is that the expanded Refill campaign will result in the Cardiff region being weaned off its reliance on single use plastic. Consumer demand will drive sustainable innovation in the sector, impacting behaviour change within businesses and reducing the amount of plastic waste flowing into our rivers and oceans.”

WELSH BUSINESSES GET BEHIND REFILL AND REUSE
As a result of public health concerns during the pandemic, many cafes and retailers in Cardiff temporarily stopped accepting reusables and increased their use of single-use plastic. This is despite experts stating that reusables are perfectly safe to use, and only 5% of customers feeling that single-use items are safer than reusables.

So ahead of the first ever World Refill Day (16th June) City to Sea is encouraging a new wave of signups to the Refill app. They are welcoming businesses who already allow customers to bring their own containers or offer packaging- free options, or those who are looking to trial a refill service for the first time. Businesses are invited to use the app as a free marketing platform to drive footfall and increase sales.

New to the app this year is Kemi’s Café in Pontcanna. Patrick Nevins, who runs the popular independent café with his mum, Kemi, said “As a business, we are happy to help our customers reduce their reliance on single use packaging. We now offer free tap water refills and also allow customers to bring their own reusable coffee cups.”

Also recently signed up to the app is the Waterloo Tea chain of teahouses, which recently announced plans for a sixth site on Whitchurch Road. Founder Kas said “Our sites in Penylan, Lakeside, Roath and the city centre have all been added to the Refill app; we display our sticker to let customers know that they don’t have to buy bottled water, they can refill their reusable water bottles with us for free. Next month, on World Refill Day, we will also be launching a new discount scheme for people who use their own takeaway coffee cups.”

Both businesses – alongside many others around Cardiff – can be seen adding Refill window stickers to their shop fronts in a new film aimed at driving business sign-ups, available via this link. Other forward-thinking businesses in the food-to-go or retail sector are invited to share their involvement on social media using the hashtags #ReturnToRefill.

Jo Morley, Head of Campaigns at City to Sea said, “The pandemic unfortunately led to a huge increase in single-use plastic, but as move towards a sense of normality, we need to ensure we don’t see a repeat of the scenes of last summer where our beaches, parks and beauty spots were covered in pointless single-use packaging. Refill provides a simple way for businesses and consumers to take action to turn the tide on plastic pollution – as we prepare for the first ever World Refill Day (16th June), it’s time to get reusables back on the menu!”

Any business can sign up as a Refill Station and add their own details by registering for free on the app at refill.org.uk/get-the-refill-app/.

BETTER FOR THE PLANET, BETTER FOR BUSINESS
5.5 billion plastic bottles escape household recycling collection every year. They are littered, landfilled or incinerated (creating toxic fumes in the process).

Offering refills is an easy way to help reduce this figure, and over 120 health experts from eighteen countries have signed a statement assuring retailers and consumers that reusables are safe during COVID-19.
The health experts emphasise that disposable products are not inherently safer than reusables, and that reusable systems can be utilised safely during the pandemic by employing basic hygiene.
But offering refills also has a positive impact on business. According to research[2]:
• 66% of people said they would be likely to make a purchase from a business whilst refilling.
• 65% would be likely to return to make a future purchase.
• 64% would choose to make a purchase from a participating business over a competitor.
• 7 out of 10 people would view a business more favourably if it provided refills.

HOW TO ENJOY A NO-CONTACT REFILL
Reusables can be used safely and accepting them doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact it can be super simple. Here’s how cafes and other businesses can offer a no-contact refill:

  1. Customers place their clean reusable bottle or container (lid off) onto a designated spot and steps back two metres.
  2. The server refills the container without touching it. The customer replaces the lid and takes away the container.
    Or;
  3. Using a clean napkin, the server takes the customer’s container and fills it from the tap. The server replaces the bottle on the counter and disposes of the napkin.
  4. Customers celebrate reducing the prevalence of single-use plastic – diolch!

[1] [4] Brita/You Gov – https://resource.co/article/study-finds-45-cent-fall-purchases-bottled-water-go

[2] Water, Water Everywhere (2018) Moving on from awareness to action on single use plastic bottles. Keep Britain Tidy & BRITA: http://www.keepbritaintidy.org/sites/default/files/resources/Water%20Water%20Everywhere%202018%20Report%20WEB.pdf

Illustration of Blaenau Gwent area

Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly Report

The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly was held from 6 – 28 March 2021.

The Assembly took place online via Zoom. 50 residents of Blaenau Gwent were selected by sortition to address the question:

“What should we do in Blaenau Gwent to tackle the climate crisis in a way that is fair and improves living standards for everyone?”

44 participants attended the first assembly session and 43 participants were present at the final session for voting on recommendations.

Attendance was stable throughout all sessions with 43 being the lowest attendance.

The members met for a total of 23 hours to hear evidence from over 20 different experts, discuss the issues, and produce recommendations for what local public service organisations, communities and individuals could do to address the climate crisis and improve lives for people in Blaenau Gwent.

The assembly members explored the following themes in the learning phase:
• Introduction to climate change
• Issues of fairness and the just transition
• How change happens
• Housing – retrofit, new build, fuel poverty, jobs & skills
• Nature and green space
• Transport

The agenda, videos of sessions and additional questions for speakers can be found on the website.

Download the report.

How do we tackle the unequal impacts of climate change?

The climate crisis unfairly impacts some people more than others, based on gender, race, class, income, disability and location. Often those least responsible for causing the problem, are most likely to be impacted.

With a focus on the UK, this event considered how impacts will be felt unequally and how injustices could be addressed. Calling for the diverse voices of those impacted to be central to our response to the climate crisis.

Panellists:

  • Dr Michael Mikulewicz – Research Fellow, Centre for Climate Justice
  • Sarah Hopkins – Director, Cynnal Cymru / Sustain Wales
  • Suzanne Dhaliwal – Climate Justice Creative, Campaigner, Researcher, Lecturer in Environmental Justice and Trainer in Creative Strategies for Decolonisation
  • Ravina Singh – UK Cities Senior Engagement Officer, CDP

Video Contributors:

  • Liam Crouse – Organiser, Misneachd
  • Paul Cobbing – Chief Executive, National Flood Forum Michael Lomotey FRSA, MSc (he/him) – Adaptation Planning Specialist – for Climate and Ecology Repair.
  • Heather Shepherd – Flood Recovery Specialist, National Flood Forum
  • Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah – Co-Founder, Ella Roberta Family
  • Sunita – Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly Member
  • Sadie DeCoste – Co-Founder and Director, Loss and Damage Youth
  • Ineza Umuhoza Grace – Co-Founder & Co-Director, Loss and Damage Youth Coalition Susie Fitton – Policy Officer, Inclusion Scotland

Watch or listen to a recording of this important discussion below:

Sustainability First are a UK think-tank and charity who promote practical ways to improve environmental, social and economic wellbeing in public utilities.

Related reads and resources:

Guardian article: New homes in poorer areas of England and Wales face undue flood risk
Friends of the Earth podcast: How are climate and racism connected?
Climate in Colour
IPPR report: Putting people at the heart of tackling the climate and nature emergency
Teach the Future
Black and Green Ambassadors Programme
Local Trust podcast: Community voices on climate change
What is a citizen’s assembly
Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly recommendations
IPPR report: The Climate Commons
Carbon Literacy
Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act
Participatory budgeting
Local Trust: Big Local
Inclusion Scotland webinar: Climate change, disability and Eco-ableism – and webinar briefing
Stop Climate Chaos blog: Disability, climate justice and eco-ableism

Wales Nature Week is coming! 29 May – 6 June 2021

One of the key messages emerging from lockdown has been a heightened awareness – or perhaps renewed appreciation – of the importance and benefits of nature. Gardens, parks, walks along open spaces, even balconies to experience bird song or rooms with a view of woodland or hedgerows have all been embraced, with growing recognition that these are not just nice-to-have backdrops but something fundamental to our well-being – anchors in daily life that restore and revive us.

If this rings true for you, and you have also found nature to be a soothing and restorative presence, then there is an opportunity to repay some of this natural bounty, and even help it spread, through Wales Nature Week, starting at the end of May.

Wales Nature Week is an annual celebration of the often overlooked but nonetheless incredible habitats and species of Wales. Temperate rainforests, globally significant seabird populations, insects and spiders found nowhere else in the world – these are all on our doorstep, alongside species recently re-introduced or coming back from the brink such as beavers, pine martens and red squirrels.

Through its virtual programme, which includes a participative Garden BioBlitz, Wales Nature Week shines a light each day on different habitat types and the species they support. There will also be helpful tips and support from a community of experts for anyone curious to learn more, particularly about how we as individuals can give back to nature in our homes or workplaces.

As the amount of land left to wilderness and wildlife shrinks, our collective potential contribution to nature recovery, as citizens, homeowners and inhabitants of work premises, becomes increasingly important. We explore this, and other contributions that individuals and organisations can make to nature restoration, in our new training course, Nature Wise – Nabod Natur, which we will launch on World Environment Day on 5 June.

If you want to learn more about the links between human activity and ecosystem disruption and develop the knowledge to enable you and your organisation to take action for nature recovery, then we hope that this will be the course for you. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more.

In the meantime however, for more insights into how anyone can take practical actions to help nature thrive, take a look at the Environmental Volunteering resource on our site and remember to sit back, recharge, re-energise and give back through logging in to Wales Nature Week.

Wales Millennium Centre is Wales’ 300th Living Wage Employer!

This is a welcome milestone for the movement in Wales and sees another anchor institution within Cardiff making their public commitment and further driving the capital’s Living Wage City ambitions.

Employers choose to pay the Real Living Wage on a voluntary basis and it differs from the National Living Wage in that it is independently calculated based on the true cost of living for employees and their families. NLW has recently gone up to £8.91 and included anybody over 23 but the Real Living Wage remains the only rate to truly be enough to live on and includes anybody over the age of 18.

The commitment by Wales Millennium Centre means that everyone working for the organisation receives the Real Living Wage, regardless of whether they are directly employed or a regularly contracted member of staff. They have been paying this rate since 2019 but by becoming accredited they are publicly committing to adhering to annual recalculations and promoting Living Wage Principles on-site and within the community.

“Although we have been paying the Real Living Wage since 1 April 2019 we are very proud to become accredited as a real Living Wage employer. Through accreditation, we are making our commitment to the annual increase in the real Living Wage and will be promoting the real Living Wage to our on-site contractors and in our community. We are delighted to be joining a network of other employers that believe in a wage that meets everyday needs.”

Sian Ropaigealach, HR Project Manager, Wales Millennium Centre

“We would like to acknowledge and give thanks to those at Wales Millennium Centre who put in the work to make this happen. We look forward to working with WMC as members of our network and key employer in making Cardiff a Living Wage City. We hope that this accreditation will inspire other employers in the arts and in other sectors in Wales to look into accreditation and the benefits this has for employees and the organisation”

Sarah Hopkins Director Cynnal Cymru, Accrediting body in Wales

“We are delighted to celebrate the accreditation of Wales Millennium Centre as the 300th Living Wage employer in Wales – it has been a long drama, but it gets a standing ovation from us!  Five years ago young people in Butetown and Grangetown like me identified a lack of representation of people who looked like us in the workforce of major organisations in Cardiff Bay.  We asked employers, like Wales Millennium Centre, to sign the ‘Community Jobs Compact’ – committing them to fair recruitment through name-blind and address-blind recruitment processes; to fair career development opportunities through stable contracts and mentoring; and to fair wages, by accrediting as a Living Wage employer.  In Mathew Milsom, Managing Director of Wales Millennium Centre, we found an ally who quickly ensured fair recruitment processes and fair career development opportunities – and has now completed all aspects of the Community Jobs Compact.  Local people of all backgrounds should know that if they apply for a job at Wales Millennium Centre, they will get a fair shot at the role, good development opportunities, and the Real Living Wage of £9.50 an hour.  We call on other Cardiff employers to follow their example and build back better out of Covid by accrediting as a Living Wage employer and signing the Community Jobs Compact.”

Nirushan Sudarsan, a leader from Cardiff Citizens

Cardiff’s Living Wage City Ambitions

Cardiff has ambitions to become a ‘Living Wage City’. A group of prominent Cardiff employers joined forces to form the Cardiff Living Wage Action Group and in 2019 launched their 3-year action plan to begin ‘Making Cardiff a Living Wage City’.

Action Plan includes:
• Increasing the number of accredited Living Wage employers to 150 by 2022.
• Increasing the number of people working for accredited Living Wage employers to 48,000 by 2022.
• Encouraging major employers, iconic employers and ‘anchor’ organisations in Cardiff to become accredited Living Wage employers.
• Supporting small businesses to accredit through the Council’s Living Wage Accreditation Support Scheme.


There are already over 125 Cardiff Living Wage employers signed up to the scheme including Cardiff Council, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, University of South Wales, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Capital Law, Knox and Wells, Wales and West Housing, Welsh Government, Cardiff and Vale Credit Union, and most recently Ffilm Cymru.

Councillor Huw Thomas, Leader of Cardiff Council said:

“Wales Millennium Centre is an instantly recognisable sight in the capital city and how fitting that an organisation based in such an iconic landmark should become Wales’ 300th Living Wage employer.

 “The Living Wage City Steering Group, the Council-led forum which drives the Living Wage agenda in Cardiff, has been working with WMC for some time to achieve this and we are thrilled to have them on board, joining more than 125 other accredited Living Wage employers in the city.

“As we focus on our economy reopening and the city recovering from the impact of the past year, we’re keen for that number to keep growing and can help organisations to become accredited via our Living Wage Accreditation Support Scheme for SMEs. We encourage employers to find out about the difference accreditation can make to their business and their business’s reputation by visiting www.cardiff.gov.uk/LivingWage


United Welsh: “Change happens at the speed of trust.”

United Welsh, Linc Cymru, Melin Homes and Tai Calon are four housing associations that manage all the social housing in Blaenau Gwent – equating to 20% of all the county’s homes. In 2019 they embarked on a project to explore if the power of their collective spend could better benefit the communities around them.

Previous collaboration had identified building and maintenance supply chains as a key area where coordinated spend could be targeted to help support the local economy, with opportunities for training and skills development, business growth and local job creation. However mapping these supply chains, and making links between the four organisations’ budgets and workplans, required careful analysis and dedicated resource, something that was difficult to find amongst existing demands and priorities.

The partners applied to Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Challenge Fund to help accelerate this collaboration and a grant was awarded in recognition of the potential impact that this could have on the area’s foundational economy businesses. The approved project would map the supply chains across the four organisations, identify key opportunities to strengthen local spend and suppliers, build better relations with social enterprises and SMEs and connect them with existing business support networks.

One of the first key steps was gathering and collating supply chain data over the four partners. To do this, the planned maintenance budgets of all four housing associations were compiled and combined, producing a 10 year forward work programme worth £90 million. This was then used to start conversations with local businesses about how this work could be delivered locally, keeping as much of the spend in Blaenau Gwent as possible.

This sort of intelligence, about the value and scale of future potential work opportunities, is of huge benefit to business planning, particularly for smaller or more specialist suppliers. Knowledge of future opportunities can be critical in deciding for example whether to take on an extra staff member or to invest in training for a new type of installation or product.

Another unanticipated benefit of the project has been its potential to reduce the ‘boom and bust’ cycle of work that the partners were sometimes inadvertently creating. For example, rather than one housing association having an SME replace all their windows one season (boom) and then there being no similar work for months until another housing association did the same (bust), the housing associations can now coordinate programmes of work to ensure that a steady pipeline is always available.

As well as collating maintenance and supply chain data, the partners also shared ideas and existing programmes in place to support local community organisations. This led to a further combining of the partners’ resources – this time to support community spaces and initiatives better through the disruption that COVID-19 has caused. Working with CLES, The Wales Cooperative Centre and The Federation of Small Business, the project has also worked to set up a Social Enterprise Network in Blaenau Gwent, that they hope will continue well beyond the grant timeframe.

As well as achieving the original objectives of the Challenge Fund application, the closer partnership working that the grant enabled is influencing wider work also.

Like many housing associations, those in Blaenau Gwent are working on plans to decarbonise homes through retrofitting. Although this will be challenging, and means that maintenance plans already in place will need to change, it also provides another significant opportunity to support new, well paid, green jobs in the area.

The partnership believes that the new collaborative ways of working established during the Challenge Fund project will enable them to plan and deliver retrofitting in ways that – because of its scale – could deliver even greater benefits than the original project. The pooling of budgets and work programmes could even go so far as to help catalyse a new local retrofit industry through being able to guarantee a steady pipeline of work, geared towards smaller local suppliers.

This will include using the relationships built during the project with local colleges, SMEs and academia to explore how any training and skills gaps for the planned works can be addressed to ensure that work can be delivered locally. This could be an important contribution to building up the skills base in the county, which like many other post-industrial areas, has higher unemployment levels than the national average.

The partners are starting by retrofitting 200 homes, funded by a separate Welsh Government grant, which will be a source of learning about how to retrofit in a way that works for the people living in the homes and delivers the works through local SMEs.

An important spin-off to complement this work is the Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly – the first of its kind in Wales. This citizen’s assembly will allow local residents to help shape the decarbonisation plans not only of the four housing associations but also Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and other local decision makers, ensuring that they align with the aspirations of local people. It forms one part of the new community engagement approach that the 4 housing associations have developed during the project.

Steve Cranston, The Foundational Economy Lead from United Welsh, believes that the initial project has therefore expanded into something much wider that will have a long-term influence on the way the partners work together, allowing them to better serve their residents and the local communities around them.

Steve has two key insights for others doing this kind of work. In building collaboration across organisations, he cites trust as a key driver, explaining that “change happens at the speed of trust”. How to develop trust? Openness, transparency and listening.

Another insight is maintaining focus on what the foundational economy is about – people. Providing people with good services backed up by good jobs. Steve explains how having regular conversations with local people and communities and focusing on listening to their views is vital to ensure resources really go to where it’s needed.

Steve says the best part of being part of the Foundational Economy Challenge Fund has been “having time to build trusted relationships with partner organisations. Trust is the most important currency and we have opened up opportunities for long term mutual benefit.”

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