Pioneering Cartrefi Conwy deal fences off new job and training opportunities

A new three year contract to make fencing will create job and training opportunities for people with learning difficulties in the county of Conwy.

The agreement between housing association Cartrefi Conwy and Crest Cooperative Ltd is being hailed as the first of its kind in Wales.

One of the aims of the partnership is to tackle social exclusion suffered by adults with learning difficulties, unemployed people and former young offenders.

According to Dave Owen, Asset Surveyor with Cartrefi Conwy, they saw the fencing contract as an opportunity to further strengthen ties with Crest Co-operative.

He said: “We have worked closely with Crest over a number of years and, as this is going to be at least a three year programme, we saw it as a wonderful opportunity to work with Crest once again.

“In doing so we could engage with the local community, provide opportunities to adults with learning difficulties and reduce worklessness in the area.

“We need more than 1,000 metres of panelling just for the initial part of the scheme.

“Rather than going out and simply buying fencing panels, we wanted to help Crest Co-operative continue the work they do within the community.

“The arrangement we now have is that a local building merchant, Richard Williams of Llandudno Junction, will supply the raw materials, already cut to length, to Crest who will then construct the panels by hand.”

Cartrefi Conwy Chief Executive Andrew Bowden is a great believer in the value of the ground-breaking partnership.

He said: “Crest Co-operative has a similar ethos to Cartrefi Conwy which is to tackle social exclusion and to try and create opportunities that Conwy  communities can take advantage of.

“We worked closely with Crest Co-operative to bring our homes up to the Welsh Housing Quality standard ahead of the target time set by the Welsh Government.

“I believe this working arrangement, which will see Crest manufacture the fencing panels for us, is the first of its kind in Wales.

“There is no other scheme where a registered social landlord or housing association is working with a social enterprise scheme or co-operative to increase work and training opportunities for local people.”

Sharon Jones, the Chief Executive of Crest Co-operative, is equally enthusiastic about the new three-year deal.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted Cartrefi Conwy has, once again, chosen to work with Crest. We have built a strong and trusting relationship with our Cartrefi Conwy colleagues over the last few years.

“This relationship ensures we can offer training and work opportunities to adults with learning difficulties while also producing an excellent and competitively priced product.

“At the present time we have just one person, Carlo Maffei our Internal Operations Supervisor, making the fencing panels.

“Carlo is working on a training package so, when we go into full production, he can train the clients we already have registered with us how to safely make these panels.

“We will also be making extra panels and putting them on sale in our own retail outlet. And, along with Cartrefi Conwy, we are looking at other products we can produce such as gates.

“This really is a wonderful opportunity for Crest and I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with Cartrefi Conwy once again on what is a substantial and long-term contract.”

Crest’s Internal Operations Supervisor, Carlo Maffei, revealed each panel will be stamped with the Catrefi Conwy and Crest logos.

He said: “It is important we work out a training programme, taking into account the health and safety of our clients and employees.

“However, that shouldn’t present too much of a problem and we will soon be producing panels at the required rate. It really is a great idea and means there is a steady flow of work for the people registered with us to complete over a long period of time.”

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