A Rhondda craft-making business launched from the heartfelt desire to improve the wellbeing of the local community is flourishing thanks to investment from the Community Economic Development Programme.
Craft of Hearts Ltd in Llwynypia Road, Tonypandy is a labour of love for proprietor Jo Roe who is not only a keen crafter herself, but also spent years working in the caring profession and wanted to combine the two to make a difference to the lives of local people.
Thanks to £82,500 of investment her dream became a reality with the creation of a social enterprise that pledges to enhance the local social environment and wellbeing. It also means every penny of profit goes back into the business and the community it serves.
The Community Economic Development Programme that made the funding possible is delivered in partnership by a consortium of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Torfaen County Borough Councils, and supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
By encouraging people to enjoy the art of craft-making she is bringing groups of people together, strengthening the local community and helping residents who may feel lonely or isolated.
Jo relies heavily on the assistance of local volunteers to help run the shop, support workshops and bring new ideas and inspiration to the services being provided.
Craft of Hearts Ltd. offers a wide range of services including craft workshops ranging from beading and scrapbooks to card and jewellery making, knitting, crochet and die cutting. The shop also provides for all ages as a popular Kid Kraft meets on the weekend.
Jo also offers free in-house demonstrations, community group support, cards for special occasions, cutting and laminating services along with selling a whole range of materials, tools and resources for those with a desire to “get crafty”!
She explained, “Craft of Hearts offers so much to the local community through its workshops and various services. But this is much more than just teaching people to develop their skills and interests in craft-making, it is also about helping to improve their wellbeing by bringing them together and allowing them to make new friends and build relationships.
“Since we launched the shop in Tonypandy we’ve established a loyal customer base and hope more and more people from the area and beyond will visit us to either purchase resources for their own craft-making, or develop a new hobby which they will find enjoyable and rewarding."
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Community Safety Cllr Paul Cannon: “During these tough economic times the Council is doing all it can to help businesses in the County Borough to secure investment and support.
“Craft of Hearts in Tonypandy is a perfect example of a social enterprise that supports the local community by helping individuals develop skills and improve their wellbeing and confidence.
“That is why it is an ideal candidate for investment by the Community Economic Development Programme whose aim is to build sustainable and vibrant communities.”
The Community Economic Development Programme is aimed at supporting and developing sustainability within the third sector, and reducing their reliance upon grant support. It provides a mix of development support and financial support to those that have ambitions to develop into economically sustainable organisations within the third sector, such as voluntary and community organisations, charities, social enterprises, co-operatives and mutuals.