Cletwr is a community shop and café in a remote rural area which has lost many of its services. Aiming to make life better for the community, whatever they do is measured against that simple purpose. In the last 10 years, the village has lost the shop, post office, café, petrol station, school and the church. All that was left was a chapel and a pub. There was nowhere for people to meet their neighbours. The only employment was a few farms and home-based businesses. For young people, there was no future in the community.
Cletwr garage played a valuable role in the village of Tre’r Ddol for almost 50 years. It acted as the ‘village shop’ for those years – a place for trading gossip as well as providing essentials for local people. After closing in 2010, a valuable service was lost and after 12 months the idea to re-open it as a non-profit community venture was born. With the backing of the community, the shop and café re-opened as a community business in May 2013.
The plan was simply to provide a shop and café for locals. This has developed into a primary purpose to provide facilities and services to the community, but with the profit from the business being used to fund a growing range of activities and services.
Cletwr offers a range of activities, which together address many of the problems of rural life. For example, they take on a number of young volunteers and later employ many on a part-time basis. Rural poverty is also being addressed, by providing basic items reducing the need for an expensive 18-mile bus trip to a supermarket. Cletwr’s fuel oil syndicate helps people buy smaller quantities of oil at a good price. They’re also planning on how to work with other organisations, providing access to services such as Citizens Advice and Credit Union.
Cletwr attempts to listen to what members of the community want or need, and do what they can do address that need. As well as capturing feedback, they also ensure there is a clear focus on how to address the long-term needs of the community. The shop has completed a move to a new building, and the sense of engagement brought to volunteers is that of a community finding itself and enjoying being together.
“I was totally unprepared for the transformative effect Cletwr has had on my life. I was glad to have a local shop again and felt I ought to help keep it going but I didn’t expect to benefit personally beyond the ability to buy a few basics without having to drive several miles to do so. However, I have got to know so many people through volunteering and feel much more rooted in the community.” Mfanwy Ford, Volunteer at Cletwr
Find out how Cletwr are supporting the local community in this informative case-study film highlighting their social impact: