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How did we get here? 20 years of Môn CF!
From humble beginnings as a community group to becoming a major provider of employment services across Anglesey, a lot has changed at Môn CF over the years. 2023 is a major anniversary year for us. 20 years ago, our now CEO, Rita Lyon, and a group of individuals from Holyhead came together with the mission to empower the community and bring people out of poverty. Spanning various projects, a few different names, changing addresses, and the hard work of a lot of good people have all helped build Môn CF into an organisation that provides essential services to the people of Anglesey. One thing that has never changed is our mission to create opportunities and stronger communities for the people of Anglesey! Employment support, small business support, vocational training, and community projects are now at the heart of everything the organisation does. In this post, we’ll look back at the history of Môn CF, at some of the projects we’ve worked on, and at our favourite highlights from our 20-year history. Where it all began - The Communities First Years Back in 2003, The Welsh Government launched a new initiative called Communities First. Communities First set out to improve the quality of life for millions of people across Wales. By lifting people out of poverty, they could work to create better lives for themselves. At the time, the best way out of poverty was to get into work and improve household income. Holyhead became part of Communities First and several wards were set up in the town. Planned to run over a 10-year period, the initiative worked with local communities to deliver increased sums of public investment. Doing so would help improve the prospects for people living in deprived regions. The project assigned dedicated coordinators who would oversee all activity in each ward. There was a total of seven wards created across Anglesey. A first for its kind, Communities First flipped the traditional model on its head and took a grassroots, bottom-up approach to community cohesion. The innovative approach meant the decisions could be made at a local level. Influenced by the people who would feel their effects the most. Community feedback was used to plan projects and initiatives that would begin to make positive change. The feedback highlighted a critical need for services that helped individuals overcome the barriers keeping them from entering the world of work. Things like childcare and having the right vocational training. The team set out to remove these barriers as best they could. A transitionary period - Becoming Plas Cybi In 2005, the Welsh Government made some changes to the Communities First wards. Two wards covering Holyhead were merged into a single area and became known as Plas Cybi. The new group would oversee all Communities First activities across a shared area of Holyhead. Plas Cybi, now in a stronger position was able to continue the work of the two former wards. It took time for the new group to earn the trust it needed in the community, but it soon did, and things began to move forward again. The merger meant the organisation had a base in the town centre and would have access to the Millbank Community centre. Despite the changes to the organisation, the priorities and goals remained the same. To work on initiatives that brought people out of poverty. To remove the barriers that were keeping them there, and to create brighter futures. Childcare was still a major barrier for many and through some effective programmes, Plas Cybi was able to help. Very quickly, the team noticed another barrier affecting the people they worked with. While it was easy to show people they’d be better off in work, many didn’t have the skills needed to get the jobs that were available. There was still an outstanding need for effective training resources that could help create a skilled workforce. The team set its sights on creating vocational training programmes, and courses in various subjects soon became available. Major Initiatives - KIDZINK, Holyhead Empty Shops, and the TOM's Projects that help people overcome their barriers have always been at the forefront of Môn CF’s activities. One of those projects was KIDZINK. KIDZINK is a major project that stands out in Môn CF’s history, and one that was hugely successful. Childcare was a recurring barrier on the island. It is still a barrier today and has a significant impact on people’s ability to get back into work. There was a need for a new initiative that could help remove the childcare barrier and help individuals do more for themselves. KIDSINK provided affordable, good-quality childcare. It launched to let members of the community return to work or enter training. It quickly grew and, in time, became a place where people could train for a career in childcare. The project won an award for ‘Best Social Enterprise’ in the Morgan Foundation Awards in 2009. Another great project from the early days was TOM’s , or Tripping Out Minni’s. The programme helped children between the ages of 7 and 11 learn how they could become active members in the community. Encouraging them into volunteering and helping them gain valuable skills. The TOM’s would do good turn schemes, and for every good turn they did, they got a point. These points would convert into pounds which would go towards trips and activities they wanted to do. Things like camping or going to Alton Towers. One of the activities they wanted to do was learn how to cook, and they did so, over the course of six weeks on an intensive course run during the evenings at the high school. The course ended with the Tom's cooking a three-course meal for 100 people! It was fantastic watching the growth of the kids. When they came in, they could hardly peel a potato, and by the end, they were preparing three-course meals. They made some delightful caramelised onion tarts, and mini puddings that were all plated up in a row and would not have looked out of place on Master Chef! One project, which still benefits the community is the Holyhead Empty Shops Initiative . 10 years ago, Môn CF embarked on an initiative to regenerate the high street of Holyhead. If you’re from Holyhead, you’ll remember what things were like at the time. It was a tale of shuttered shops and to-let signs. Things didn’t look great. Major retailers had long left the town centre, moving to the new out-of-town retail park. It was clear something had to be done to combat the decline in the town centre. To bring prosperity back to the area, more opportunities need to be created. The community needs places where local people can create their own enterprises. We collaborated with the landlords and the agents of the empty shops, to reduce rents and put properties within reach for local business owners. The initiative was also able to buy some derelict premises. Refurbishment works went ahead to make them suitable for modern business use. The buildings are still in use today, some by the same businesses that first went into them 10 years ago. We recently spoke to Nashka Ealand , who runs a barber shop in one of the buildings on London Road. Restoring older buildings and making them fit for modern businesses is an initiative that Môn CF continues to do to this day. Local businesses still benefit from the project, and there are more projects on the horizon that will create even more opportunities. Alun Roberts still heads our property projects today! Môn CF today - a picture of the current organisation The Communities First initiative was a huge part of what we did in the early years. Today Môn CF has become a go-to organisation for employment support, business support, and vocational training on Anglesey. Communities First ended in 2017. This meant Môn CF needed to adapt and change if it wanted to continue providing services to the community. Môn CF would refocus, and chose to specialise in effective Employment Support, the organisation was reshaped into one that could help change people’s lives for the better. Going from strength to strength over the years, we now employ over 40 staff of our own and offer more services to our community than ever before. Môn CF has helped thousands of people across Anglesey and North Wales find sustainable, long-term employment. In 2022 we helped over 500 people find new jobs, changing their lives for the better, and improving their economic outlook. We’ve proven we can be agile and rapidly respond to employment emergencies when they arise. Supporting people facing redundancies, and those affected by the closure of major employers on the island. When 2-Sisters announced the closure of their facility in Llangefni, Môn CF set-up a team to support the affected workers. By April 2023, less than a month after the site’s official closure, we’d had helped over 50 former staff secure new employment. Our employment mentors continue to support the former 2-sisters staff, and help in every way they can. Môn CF is also helping to create enterprise on Anglesey. Those who want to have more ownership of their futures can come to us for Business Support. We provide advice and guidance to help people start their own businesses, and when it’s available, help access funding that can help them achieve their goals. What's next for Môn CF - New initiatives and beyond! The new projects happening at Môn CF are now bigger than ever. New initiatives from the UK Government will see some major projects occurring across Anglesey. Môn CF is through to the second round of a new initiative that will allow us to continue delivering Employment Support & Business Support across Anglesey. The outcome will be announced in the coming weeks and will be shared with the community. Môn CF was also part of the group that secured ‘Levelling Up’ funding for Holyhead. Working with local groups and the County Council, an investment was secured for Holyhead. This is one of our biggest projects to date! We’ve secured £4.9 million for the Holyhead Vacant Property Project. The project will see two major buildings in the Holyhead town centre undergo renovations to transform them into new business premises and a community hub. Two smaller buildings will also be renovated and turned into shops suitable for local business owners. The work will help local businesses employ more local people and make the town centre a place people want to visit. For example, the HSBC building will become home to three businesses, and help create up to 30 new jobs! The people working these jobs and running these businesses will be completely independent of Môn CF. Our role is to help facilitate their success! The project will complete by March 2025. We’ll be holding public events so the community can see the plans and meet the team working on them. You can learn more about the Vacant Property Project in our blog post announcing the project . A team effort - more than just Môn CF! None of the success enjoyed by Môn CF would be possible without the hard work of everyone who’s been involved with the organisation over its 20-year history. The Welsh Government and the Anglesey County Council have backed us all the way, believing in what we do, and without them, we wouldn’t be here today. The support from the community has been overwhelmingly positive and has helped Môn CF be there for the people of Anglesey. Lastly, we would like to extend a thank you to absolutely everyone who’s worked with, supported, challenged, partnered, and engaged with Môn CF over the years. Without the valuable input and contributions of every individual, the organisation would not still be here after 20 years. Here’s to another 20 years of supporting the people of Anglesey! Want to get involved with Môn CF? Are you interested in getting involved with Môn CF? If you're looking for employment support, need help setting-up a small business, or want to earn new qualifications - our teams are here to help you! Sign up with us today and let's start making a difference together!
7 Aug 2023
Business Support Success Story - The Wishing Tree, Beaumaris
Môn CF's Business Support team has been providing expert guidance to small businesses all across Anglesey! Kate Woodhouse is the owner of one such business and came to Môn CF looking for support to help secure funding to buy equipment for her terrarium business. We headed over to Beaumaris to catch up with Kate who told us about the support she received from Môn CF to apply for Welsh Government funding. Here's what we spoke about! Q1. Hi Kate, could you tell us a little about yourself and your business? Hi, I’m Kate, I run my own business called The Wishing Tree here in Beaumaris. I’m a craft business, and I specialise in making bespoke terrariums from my workshop. I also sell other craft pieces which include household ornaments, some of my paintings, and gifts. I do some work alongside other local artists and craftspeople too, giving them a way to promote and showcase their work from my shop. The terrariums I make are like miniature gardens. Everything is housed in a glass container in a self-sustaining ecosystem where plants can grow. I moved to North Wales when I was 19 and had been working in the hospitality sector, up until the pandemic which left me without a job. I’ve always been a hands-on and crafty person and I’ve always been really interested in plants. During lockdown I started to create and paint a lot more, which is when I learned about terrariums. I’ve always liked things that are a little on the quirky side, and I started making my own terrariums soon after. Once the lockdowns lifted, I got a space in the Exchange in Beaumaris, which is a shared space for small businesses. Soon after I was offered some space in Bodnant Garden. I now have a shop in Beaumaris. I share the space with the Osteo Origin Clinic! I have to give credit to Robert Richardson, who owns Osteo Origin, for letting me rent the space. I also owe a huge thanks to Kerry Massey, owner of Soulful Living in Beaumaris, who's supported me throughout my journey. I couldn't have done any of this without her support! Q2. How did you initially approach Môn CF? Was it always for Business Support, or did you come to us for a different reason? When the space in Bodnant Gardens came up I jumped at the opportunity, but it was a much bigger space than I’d had previously, and I didn’t have the equipment I needed to fill it. I didn’t really know what kind of help was available to a business like mine, so I started looking. I’d been operating for around 10 months which meant I wasn’t eligible for some start-up grants. I’d seen an advert for an event Môn CF was hosting that was there to support businesses gain access to funding, and thought it’d be worth paying them a visit. I also wanted to meet some other local business owners too. The event was to help small businesses gain access to funding that could be used to purchase equipment and fixtures – things like shelving, displays, and point of sale. This was exactly what I needed – there seems to be a bit of a gap when it comes to funding where there’s lots of support if you’re just starting out, but not so much when you’ve been trading for a few months. I went to the event and there were all these people who wanted to help me grow my business, and there was prosecco too, which was great! Q3. Could you tell us a bit more about how your business has grown, and how the support you received helped that growth? The support I received helped me apply for some equipment funding. There were some criteria I needed to meet to make sure I could access the funds. I wasn’t allowed to buy stock with it for example, but I could use it to kit out my premises and buy other essentials for my business. I received around £1,700 from the grant which went towards equipment and shelving for my shop. I also used some of it to buy a laptop and some software so I can take my business online. Môn CF helped me source the items I needed, and I’ve used them to showcase my terrariums and other products. The support I received has helped me get my business off the ground. There are so many small things you don’t think of when you’re starting out. The support has helped me provide a quality business from the word go, rather than having to wait to build over time. I think that’s important, being able to provide quality from the offset. Q4. Could you tell us about your plans for the future of your business? The next big step for my business will be selling my terrariums online. The nature of how they’re made, and the fact they’re housed in glass makes them difficult to ship commercially. I’ve just had a meeting this morning with a courier company, and it looks like they can provide the delivery solution I’ve been looking for. I’ve been speaking to owners of similar businesses across the UK, and they’ve given me a lot of good advice, like where to source some of the materials I need. I’m also looking at new products to incorporate into my terrariums – new plants are always a must! Another area I’m working hard on is my online presence. The website is constantly moving, and I’m growing on social media. There’s a lot going on and I do it all myself, the sales, the marketing, and running the show – it keeps me busy! Q5. One more, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting their own business, what would it be? I’d recommend that you look at what support is available before you start! There’s a lot more than you’d think, it’s just hard to find sometimes, so don’t lose heart and do plenty of research before you start. I think there needs to be more in place for people a bit further down the line but start looking as early as possible! Thinking about starting your own business? Get the support you need with Môn CF! If you're thinking of starting your own business, or already have a business, Môn CF's Business Support team are here to help! Able to provide support in all aspects of business, from funding to policy writing, through to a full recruitment service, our team is here for you. Interested in learning more? Get in touch with our Business Support team today!
24 Jul 2023
Business Support Success Story - Florees, Holyhead
Every new business we support is as unique as the person who creates it. Our team continues to support businesses and business owners across Anglesey. We caught up with some of those owners to hear about their experiences running a business. We asked how the support from Môn CF has helped them achieve their business goals. It also gives us a chance to get a look behind the scenes to hear what’s next for their business. A unique business that’s recently reached out to Môn CF for support is Florees. We spent an afternoon with Stacey Rees. Having recently opened a flower preservation business in Holyhead, here’s what she had to say! Q1. Hi Stacey, could you tell us a little about yourself and your business? Yes. I’m Stacey, I own a business called Florees. I make jewellery and artwork using real flowers that I preserve right here in my shop. Everything you see here is handmade by me. I source most of my flowers from local florists and work with local small businesses to frame some of the art you see on my walls. No two flowers are the same, so every piece I make is a one-of-a-kind item, something I love. Florees products include bespoke jewellery, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and rings. I craft handmade gifts, framed artworks, and prints. I also offer a flower preservation service. And specialise in the preservation of wedding bouquets, which I turn into framed art. I use my own process of drying and preserving the flowers. The technique I use makes the petals hold their colour and stay vibrant once they’re cast in the resin. It helps draw people to my work! I use high-quality materials for all my jewellery, like sterling silver. It was important that my products be suitable for sensitive skin. Like a lot of new businesses, Florees started as a lockdown hobby. I started working with flowers and resin. Drying petals and bouquets, and once I got going, things grew from there. Before I knew it I was running a business and working a full-time job, and trying to juggle three kids! Things got busy! I was making everything out of a set-up I had in our garage and selling my pieces on Etsy. But I outgrew that space and realised I needed something bigger. That’s when I started to realise I had the chance to make something of the business, that this could actually work as a career! Q2. How did you initially approach Môn CF – was it always for Business Support, or did you come to us for a different reason initially? I’d heard of the work Môn CF do, and I saw their announcements about the grants that were available at the time. I reached out to see if I could get any help with some items I needed, like a printer, and some other business essentials. They put me through the application process, and I was lucky to receive some funding to help me get started. I used the funding to upgrade some equipment, but by this point, I’d already started outgrowing the garage. I knew Môn CF had helped a few other local business owners find premises. I reached out to them again to see if they could help, hoping they had somewhere I could rent as a studio. As soon as I could make the enquiry, Alun put his coat on and was showing me around the available properties. He took me around the shops and showed me what was available. I told him I’d had my eye on the shop I’m in now. And even though it’s not a Môn CF property, he knew the owner and got the ball rolling to help me get set up here. It was a massive help. As soon as I saw the inside I knew straight away this is where I wanted to set up my studio, it’s really nice here. It’s proven to be a great location. With good footfall and the support from the community has been incredible. It’s so nice to feel so welcome and see people when they come in. Q3. Could you tell us a little more about how your business grew thanks to the support you received? As I mentioned before, the business was set up in my garage, and as it kept growing, I was running out of space. I was taking over the house with all my stuff. We had flowers everywhere! Môn CF pointed me in the right direction when I was looking for a studio, which has helped my business provide a welcoming place for customers to visit. I can trade from here, and I can use the space as my workshop where I make all my products. Getting the space has had the added benefit of improving my work-life balance. Something that’s important to me. I have three young children and I want our house to feel like home, not like work. It was easy to get distracted by home life when I was working from the garage, it’s nice to have a place where I can come focus. Môn CF also helped me write my business plan. I didn’t know where to start at first. My mentor was so helpful and created the whole plan with me. She told me about all the marketing I should consider and told me about some courses that were available. There is so much knowledge in Môn CF, it was a great help to be able to access it. If you don’t know where to start, having that kind of support is so useful. Q4. Could you tell us about your plans for the future of your business? Well, a big part of my business comes from my online sales. Expanding what I can do online is going to be a major next step. I’m currently working hard to get stock ready for the Christmas rush. Seems early I know, but I need to be well ahead on these things because I make everything myself. I’m getting a lot of support from my sister. She’s a social media marketer in Ireland, and she’s been a great help in getting my brand out there. Social media is a big part of my business, it’s how I get my brand noticed and it’s how people find out about me. Making content takes a lot of time, so I’ll be doing some more work on that soon too. I also have lots of new products and artwork to release soon. Q5. One more, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting their own business, what would it be? Yes, my advice would be to definitely make sure you’ve got that support. Research and reach out to organisations that can help as early as you can, it makes a huge difference. Don’t be afraid to lean on them as well, it’s what they’re there for. My husband has been amazing too and has really supported me through the highs and lows. If you’re really passionate about what you want to do, believe in yourself and go for it. Keep pushing and you can get through anything! It won’t come easy, but when it works it’s so rewarding because all the hard work has paid off. Thinking about starting your own business? Get the support you need with Môn CF! If you're thinking of starting your own business, or already have a business, Môn CF's Business Support team is here to help! Able to provide support in all aspects of business, from funding to policy writing, through to a full recruitment service, our team is here for you. Interested in learning more? Get in touch with our Business Support team today!
13 Aug 2023
Business Support Success Story - C L Beauty, Holyhead
Môn CF's Business Support team have been providing expert guidance to small businesses all across Anglesey! Cora Scrivener is the owner of one such business, and came to Môn CF looking for support to help her her ideas off the ground. We caught up with Cora to ask about the support she received from Môn CF, and to see how her business is performing! Q1. Hi Cora, to start us off, could you tell us a little about yourself and your business? My name is Cora, I’m 28 and I own C L Beauty , based in Holyhead. I offer a range of treatments that include eyebrow waxing, shaping, and tinting. I can also offer more detailed services, such as Henna tints and High-Definition treatments. I was 25 or 26 when I first got into the Beauty industry. I had just come out of university, and I wasn’t especially sure if I wanted to use my degree or not. Everything I was doing at the time was getting pushed back because of the Covid lockdowns, so I didn’t officially graduate until last year. It made me want to do something else and pursue my own ambitions. I started teaching myself new beauty skills at home using resources I was able to find online, and as we started coming out of lockdowns I started practicing, with friends and family initially. Eventually the word got out and people started to approach me for my services. I got popular enough that I was able to set it up as a business and I have been providing the service ever since. Once we fully came out of lockdown, I approached Môn CF who helped me grow my business. I’ve had a lot of support from my clients and people in the community. I’ve been able to grow a really good following on social media and I get some great engagement on my pages, especially TikTok! This helps new clients find me and helps my business keep growing! Q2. That's great, so how did you initially approach Môn CF? Was it always for Business Support, or did you come to us for a different reason? I’ve always wanted to be self-employed. I’ve known that for a while, even before I set up my business. I knew I wanted to do it; I just didn’t know what kind of support was out there. It was just after lockdown and I was unemployed at the time, so I came to Môn CF looking for Business Support. I’d already taken some steps on the journey myself. I’d completed my business plan and I knew how I wanted to market my business online. Môn CF helped me learn a lot about the funding that was available to businesses like mine. They put me in touch with Business Wales, and because I’d completed a lot of the journey myself, I was able to apply for some of the grant funding they had available at the time. Môn CF have helped me, as well as my business too. They provided some employment support to me when I first approached them too. I worked with Hannah and Sam who provided some amazing support. They still keep in touch to see how I’m doing! They helped me develop some of my other skills, book my theory test, and find other employment to help while I was getting the business set up! I love being self-employed and doing what I do, but I wanted that extra safety net and Môn CF helped me achieve that. Q3. Could you tell us a bit more about how your business has grown, and how the support you received helped that growth? Môn CF helped me access the Business Wales start-up grant. They helped me with every part of the application process, and I’ve had a lot of engagement with them over the last two years. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to start this business. Business Wales have called me and asked for some feedback on the process, and I told them I couldn’t have done it without Môn CF! The funding I received helped me get the equipment I needed to start my business. With it I bought the bed I use, the lighting I use, and all my initial stock. It was literally everything! It was quite a big trajectory. I went from being unemployed, to being self-employed and owning my own business. I have a client base of around 50 to 60 people who come to me repeatedly now, with some travelling more than 50 miles for my services! Q4. Could you tell us about your plans for the future of your business? Yes! So, obviously I want the business to continue growing, and I’ve started working on new plans and ideas to help me get there. I think the next big step is looking for a premises, so I can have my own little space to run everything from. I’m also exploring options of expanding the services I offer. I want to provide semi-permanent make up too. I know of a training academy that can provide all the courses and qualifications I need, so I’m going to put some money aside to help me to invest in the qualifications I need. The academy is actually run by someone who got their start running a business a lot like mine, which inspires me to keep pushing forward! Q5. How about the business mentorship you've received from the Môn CF team, could you tell us a little about that? Yes definitely! My business mentor was really helpful. I have Dyscalculia, which is like Dyslexia but only affects your ability to work with numbers. I was diagnosed with it when I was in college, so I’ve always worried it would hold me back if I was starting my own business. I thought it would make things like tax and accounts too difficult, it could get too overwhelming. My Self-Employment Mentor – Katie, went through everything with me and explained the entire process to me, which really helped. She was always available over the phone if I needed any extra support, which really helped. She even helped with the finance side of things and helped me set up my UTR number. They made sure that I knew that the door was always open! Q6. One more, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting their own business, what would it be? That’s a good one! I’d say, don’t doubt yourself. Know your own strengths and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try something. If you want something enough and you’re willing to work for it, you can do anything! I’ve been doing this for so long now I forget how scary I used to think it was. But now, with all the feedback I get from my clients and how much progress I’ve made I get such a good feeling. It’s so rewarding! Thinking about starting your own business? Get the support you need with Môn CF! If you're thinking of starting your own business, or already have a business, Môn CF's Business Support team are here to help! Able to provide support in all aspects of business, from funding to policy writing, through to a full recruitment service, our team is here for you. Interested in learning more? Get in touch with our Business Support team today!
12 Jul 2023
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