03 Nov 2022

A typical week in our Cartrefi Conwy and Creating Enterprise Community Hub

Our Cartrefi Conwy and Creating Enterprise Community Hub in Llandudno opened in September 2021 with a focus towards the local community where anyone can drop in. We’ve had over 1,000 visitors in the last year and these numbers are always increasing as we continue to expand the services we provide from the Hub.

The Hub serves as a one stop shop where local people can access a wide range of specialist advice and support from our own teams as well as other organisations including Jobcentre Plus, Cambrian Credit Union, Warm Wales, Conwy Youth Service and the mental health charity, Mind. This has made the Hub a bit of a place to go with local people and if we can’t help there and then, we’ll signpost. We aim to offer support and a bit of hand holding, but we don’t want to do everything for them, only to guide people on their way.

With the cost of living crisis upon us, every day is different in the Hub. Here’s a snapshot of a typical week and the impact we have in the Hub:

We held a Digital Support session where we had eight lovely people sat on the sofas with our Digital Inclusion Officer Mike who delivered the skills session. The participants comment the skills they learn are really useful plus they love the atmosphere in the Hub as it is so warm, inviting and informal.

Later a Ukrainian refugee came into the Hub to ask for help with moving home and applying for jobs however for the first few minutes it was tough to communicate due to her limited English. Julia our family events officer discovered the lady could speak Russian, as does Julia, which made things much easier. From there we facilitated a conversation with Dave from the DWP about her situation - we managed to upload her CV to her own gov.uk page, discussed her next steps in applying for a job, and spoke about her housing options. She left the Hub in a much better place than when she arrived.

The Cambrian Credit Union and Warm Wales were holding drop ins during the morning session. An elderly gentleman came in to ask about our employability support and during the conversation he raised his concerns over financial worries and the increase in cost of fuel. A referral was made with the rep from Warm Wales there and then and he left with a support plan in place tailored to him.

In the afternoon we had a colleague from the Cartrefi Conwy Money Support team who worked remotely from the Hub and was on hand to provide advice to some visitors that had dropped in for some interview and CV skill sessions.

We held DWP and Volunteering drop ins today. A gentleman with disabilities came into the Hub who had been sent by the Job Centre for support in filling out a disability allowance claim form. The DWP rep was able to complete the form with him and send it off for approval to ensure the gentleman receives the benefits he is entitled to.

In the afternoon an upset and scared young mum-to-be came in to seek support from the Oak Tree Project (a project set up for young people threatened with homelessness). She is currently living in a bed and breakfast and is fleeing domestic violence. Our private appointment room allowed the Oak Tree Project rep to support this young lady in a safe, warm environment.

Conwy Mind were holding a drop-in session today. A young man popped into the Hub with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’d visited the Hub before to see Mind and needed a bit of extra help. Between us, we gave him advice and supported him with phone calls and visits to EE to manage his debt plus worked with the DWP to alter his UC payments from monthly to fortnightly to prevent him spending all his money in one hit. Over time we’ve also supported him with to get a replacement birth certificate so he can gain employment plus helped him with his CV. We’ve also referred him to the Oak Tree Project who are also supporting him with budgeting plus a food bank referral.

He fed back to us: “Since I’ve come here, everything is better and my life is on the up”

In the morning we had the Social Care Employability Mentor from Conwy County Borough Council hosting a drop-in focusing on employability which had a few visitors.

Around lunchtime a visibly distressed gentleman came into the Hub and was quite worked up. Someone had come to his home claiming to be from Cartrefi Conwy but he didn’t let them in as they did not have an ID badge or a Cartrefi Conwy van. He was worried he had done something wrong by not letting them in as he was due to have his boiler serviced soon. We managed to calm him down by offering him a drink and a seat. We assured him that when someone from Cartrefi Conwy comes to his home they will have ID and a uniform. We also checked when his boiler service was due, so he knew when to expect them.

As you can see every day is different in the Hub. We never know who will next come through the door and we’re always there to help and offer support. The Hub will continue to be community-led so if the cost of living crisis means certain services are needed, we will try to find partner organisations with the relevant skills. We want to be able to offer the things people want and we will always look to link what we do to our Social Impact strategy and improve services from there. We know the next few months will be a tough time for many and we want this Community Hub to be somewhere the local community can rely on.

Written by by Ami Jones

Ami is the communities facilities coordinator at Cartrefi Conwy.