Cwm Tawel in Bridgend was set up in 2010 as a community group promoting traditional rural crafts and foraging. With support from SEWCED, it has since branched out into providing ‘glamping’ accommodation including tipis and yurts as part of its income generation plan.
Having not only identified a niche in the accommodation market in Bridgend county borough, it has also brought a significant level of environmental sustainability to it, while offering volunteering opportunities to local long term unemployed people.
The SEWCED award of £130,809 helped Cwm Tawel buy yurts and also supported salaries for two members of staff to develop commercial opportunities for the site and deliver rural workshops.
The group has four Mongolian yurts, tipis, a communal roundhouse/kitchen, site shop (stocking locally sourced products) and eco-friendly shower/toilet block. Over the past year, there have been 172 booking for the campsite - each for up to five guests - and 58 bookings for courses from primarily individual campers staying on site.
A dedicated woodland education and growing space for courses for schools and community groups were completed this year, with nine schools and six community growing groups having already worked at the site. Future plans include expanding the glamping project and offering free Wi-Fi and an interactive information panel.
All the improvements will improve Cwm Tawel’s ability to create income, allowing the social enterprise to give more training opportunities to local people and create more jobs. The group also plans to look into alternative energy production on the site by means of hydropower.
Cwm Tawel’s success has had an impact on other businesses in the area. The Railway Inn - the closest pub to the campsite - has seen a marked increase in sales both during the weekend and weekdays. The pub now offers a minibus service to onsite guests to get them home safely at the end of the night, and recently began opening during the day to provide breakfast to complement the accommodation.
Without the revenue support from SEWCED, the group would not have had the resources for any of these projects. The investment will allow it to become fully self-sufficient and staff are currently looking to find funding for three posts: a business development manager, a trainee and an environmental officer dedicated to work on community projects.
Volunteer Director Yiota Haralambos said: “We really appreciate the support we’ve had from SEWCED. It’s a big step from a community group to a limited company and generating income to cover staff wages, etc. We believe that the project is already a huge success and with that confidence, we are looking to develop the business further.”
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