Building Community – Down to Earth
Built by and for the community, Down to Earth’s new community training facilities are constructed to exceptional sustainability standards. Built with only welsh timber and combining the very best of natural building and contemporary, commercial construction methods – this new centre is a game changer. What is most striking about this building is that it has been entirely built by south Wales’ most vulnerable people through accredited training programmes. The building of a new training facility tackled many problems such as the need to improve education opportunities for the most ‘hard to reach’ – particularly opportunities which were more inclusive and engaging, the need to improve understanding of sustainability – particularly for the most vulnerable who are most adversely impacted and the need to improve well-being. This building showcases the very best of low-carbon, locally sourced, fully natural construction – to commercial construction standards. The stunning new venue is, fundamentally, just a beautiful by-product of the process of us creating a new approach to health care and education delivery. It was built by the community, for the community.
Down to Earth led the project with support from the local authority planning department, AONB team with funding from the Welsh Government and the Big Lottery Fund Wales. A team of architects, building control, structural and civil engineers, M&E engineers helped with the building and the projects engaged with a range of referral agencies and third sectors organisations to reach out to vulnerable people the project could help.
Small Changes, Big Value – St David’s Partnership
Project Partners: Land Sec, NCP, Interserve, NG Bailey, Stores within the shopping centre, RSPB, Pollen8, Cardiff University, The Princes Trust, The Huggard Centre, Grangetown Pavillion, The Wallich, Amelia Trust and British Hearth Foundation
St David’s is a retail destination in Cardiff, comprising of over 200 stores and restaurants and is commited to sustainability. In 2012 St David’s installed a green roof which included the implementation of bird boxes and bee hives. Since then a second green roof has been introduced which sits within the car park so that educational activities can be delivered in partnerhsip with the RSPB and Pollen8 around the importance of biodiversity. St Davids shopping centre aims to build partnerships in the local community and promotes alternative forms of transport to encourage customers to travel in to the city centre using pushbikes, motorcycles or public transport. In 2016 the shopping centre worked with Tesla and BMW to introduce electric car charging facilities in the car park for customers to use while they shop. St David’s recycles 100% of the waste, water metres have been installed and the shopping central has moved to a waterless car valet area. The shopping centre is owned by Land Securities, a Living Wage accredited employer and works closely with The Princes Trust to provide mentoring for new businesses and help local people get employment through the “Get Into Retail programme”.
St David’s shopping centre, owned by Land Security has led on all the projects, working in partnership with NCP Limited to introduce new ideas around energy saving, Interserve and NG Bailey for technical work and painting and various charities and organisations to make sure everything is spotlessly clean. To deliver the car charging facilities, the shopping centre worked with Tesla and BMW. St Davids support many local community projects providing volunteers, tools and the materials needed to assist in the development of their work.
More than just a Bowling Alley – Xcel Bowl
Xcel Bowl is more than just a bowling alley, Xcel Bowl is part of the Xcel Project, a Social Enterprise which brings jobs, services and investment into Carmarthen. The Xcel Project is completely financially self-sustainable as all the profits from Xcel Bowl are reinvested into the social and environmental projects run on site. Xcel Bowl financially supports the work of Carmarthen Foodbank, Xcel Furniture recycling and Xcel Community Shop. These provide food, clothing, furniture and other essentials to local people experiencing a crisis as well as meeting a number of environmental aims. This year Xcel Bowl has become a low-carbon, inclusive community hub. Many community groups use the space at no cost and meeting rooms are provided at a low cost. A number of community events have been hosted at Xcel Bowl including fundraising for local, national and international charities. The project also provides a large number of volunteering opportunities so that the whole community can get involved.
There is a huge amount of collaboration that occurs across the Xcel Project to deliver all the initiatives. The Xcel Project has a strong partnership with Towy Community Church who founded the project. The Xcel Project was funded initially by Welsh Government and the Big Lottery and Carmarthenshire County Council have also been a key partner since the outset of the project. Xcel Bowl works with a number of local and national organisations and charities in order to meet it’s vision. These include: Mencap, SPICE (Time Credits), MUSH (mums group), Carmarthen Food Assembly, Carmarthen Cuppa Club, Cartref Cannes, Bro Myrrddin Housing Association. Carmarthen Foodbank alone works in collaboration with over 80 referral agencies. All the food made at the Xcel Café is sourced locally and is supported by Nolan and Castell Howell.