Fight to save future of Gwynedd social enterprise


Tomos Hughes and Geraint Jones

A GWYNEDD social enterprise is facing an uncertain future after a year-long battle with financial problems.

Moelyci Environmental Centre, based on Moelyci farm, Tregarth, has endured a testing year with grants and working contracts coming to an end, threatening to jeopardise the whole project.

Director Della Fazey said a review would be held on the future of the 350 acre site, which employs seven people, at the end of January.

She added: "The value of having a resource which is owned by the community is pretty unique.

"We think of the children and the grandchildren, and the loss to the next generation."

She added that the company's income could not cover the centre's monthly running costs of around £14,000.

Moleyci Environmental Centre was the first community-owned farm in the UK, and was bought from the Penrhyn Estate in 2002.

The centre, which provides courses and working opportunities for the local long-term unemployed, has come unstuck in its fundraising drive to renovate a barn into a new-education centre.

With £75,000 needed to finish the renovation, the farm is now hoping to raise the money, which will help secure a sustainable future for the enterprise.

Conservation officer of Moelyci Environmental Centre, John Harold said: “This year has been a difficult year, with local authority contracts running out, and it being a foul year weather-wise which has had an impact on our market garden. As the year went on we started ro realise that we were heading for a very rocky patch.

“The problem is that we need the cashflow to keep the wheels turning, so that we can complete the building. That’s the crisis. Once thats finished we’ll have a vastly improved facility to raise an income which will be stable and sustainable.”

Over the 10 years since the enterprise was established, it has provided over 100 work placements for the local long-term unemployed, supported crafts, heritage and wildlife projects, and taking special care of the rare wildlife on the land.

The centre hopes to launch a national campaign to safeguard the centre’s future at its festive fair on Sunday December 9.
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