First Minister Mark Drakeford visited the Caerphilly Miners’ Centre for the Community on Friday afternoon as the Senedd Election campaign heats up.
The Welsh Labour leader visited the community centre, which is on the site of the former Caerphilly Miners’ Hospital, with voters set to cast their votes on May 6.
He was joined by Hefin David, Senedd Member and Labour candidate for the Caerphilly constituency.
He met with Caerphilly Miners’ Centre secretary Katherine Hughes, who told him about plans to provide office space for businesses and social enterprises at the centre.
What is the Caerphilly Miners’ Centre?
Based on the site of the former Caerphilly Miners’ Hospital, the Caerphilly Miners’ Centre for the Community is a volunteer-led community centre.
Typically, it provides a host of activities such as language classes, knitting groups, arts and craft sessions. However, many of these sessions have moved onto video conferencing apps such as Zoom during the pandemic.
Mrs Hughes said it was “absolutely amazing” that Mr Drakeford visited the centre.
Mr Drakeford described the centre as a “fantastic resource for people in Caerphilly”.
He told Caerphilly Observer: “What you see here is the enormous commitment of volunteers and people who see the potential in a building like this and who are determined it won’t be lost for the local community.
“They have a real sense of how this sort of building can fulfil such a wide range of different needs.
“It’s a long-haul, there’s still a lot of work to be done still. But what you get is a real sense of commitment, enthusiasm, determination and rootedness in the community.”
Ms Hughes said: “On our second floor we have 10 units, which we are hoping to let out to social enterprises. They’ll give us an income but we also hope they’ll increase the footfall, as well as providing opportunities for local enterprises.
“On the first floor we have a function room, with a training and commercial kitchen being developed.
“A number of people and organisations have expressed interest in running their business from here, which is very important for us in terms of the overall strategy to support businesses, as well as the social benefit for people – because that’s going to generate a sustainable future.”
Mrs Hughes reiterated that while the centre is opening to businesses, it will continue to provide community and social activities.
Hefin David, Labour’s candidate for Caerphilly, said: “With the Welsh Government planning to have 30% of people working not from home but from communities post-pandemic, the Miners’ Centre is exactly the kind of venue that can provide that kind of community working.
“What we need to see is the public sector, like the Welsh Government, encouraging their workforce to find places like this to work and the public sector funding places as well.
“In addition to small businesses being based in places like Caerphilly Miners’, you can have the public sector based there as well. So rather than travel into Cardiff to work, when you could travel across the road to Caerphilly Miners’, and then pop into town for lunch. That’s the kind of thing we want – community-based living post pandemic.”
The candidates standing in the Caerphilly constituency are:
Steven Aicheler – Welsh Liberal Democrats
Hefin David – Welsh Labour
Delyth Jewell – Plaid Cymru
Stephen Jones – Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party
Steven Mayfield – Welsh Conservatives
Tim Price – Reform UK
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