A Cardiff-based charity faces an uncertain future as the Welsh Government considers changes to its Communities First fund for deprived areas.
The charity FAN or ‘Friends and Neighbours’ runs weekly sessions across South Wales including the Grange Pavilion in Cardiff. Jill Saunders who’s a trustee says she is “amazed” the Welsh Government aren’t doing more. She says the charity relies on Communities First to provide advertising and other support.
The Welsh Government have opened a three-month public consultation and Mrs Sauders is unsure if they’ll still receive that support. She says without groups like FAN people can become lonely, going “from your room to work back to your room and never meet[ing] people”. She says this is a particular concern for places like Cardiff where a lot of people speak English as a second language.
Since 2001 The Welsh Government has given more than £300m to poorer areas through the Communities First project. The Welsh Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant said last month he is “minded to phase out” the programme with the Welsh Government refusing to speculate on potential replacements until the consultation is over.
FAN was set up 13 years ago by a Grangetown teacher when her students learning English as a second language asked how to meet more British people. It is now a charity and runs similar groups in Bridgend, Ebbw Vale, Newport, Pontypridd… and Pakistan!
The original Grangetown FAN group met at the ‘Buzz’ centre on Penarth Road until September when a lorry crashed into the building. After a temporary stay at the Grangetown Hub they have now permanently relocated to the Grange Pavilion.