The social enterprise behind one of Colwyn Bay's most-popular coffee shops has been named as the best health-focussed social business in Wales.
CAIS Social Enterprises — which runs Porter's Coffee Shop and Bistro and the Station Court meetings and events venue, as well as Llandudno community veterans' hub Troop Café — won the health and social care category at the Social Business Wales Awards at Swansea's Liberty Stadium last week.
The award recognised CSE's valuable work to provide rewarding training and volunteering opportunities for people furthest from the jobs market. The business will now go on to represent Wales at the Social Enterprise UK Awards in London in November.
The award was collected by CAIS project and estates manager Liz Wilson and catering manager Mark Welsh.
Liz said: "I was delighted and honoured to receive this award on behalf of CSE — it was wonderful to see the team, and the work we do, recognised in this way.
"The quality of competition, both in our category and the other sectors, was incredibly high, and it was inspiring to see organisations from the whole of Wales come together for this celebration of social enterprises and to hear their stories."
CSE chairman Clive Wolfendale said: "CAIS Social Enterprises began when I saw an article in the local press about five years ago highlighting the dilapidated cafe and toilet facilities on the Llandudno Coach Park.
"That the varied enterprises have expanded so much and have now been recognised nationally is a tribute to the hard work of the staff, volunteers and participants who contribute to the many different activities now undertaken."
More than 50 people have now benefited from the Crew-it catering training programme, which is supported by Conwy County Borough Council's Community and Enterprise Development Scheme. It has helped trainees pick up more than 100 qualifications and access thousands of hours of high-quality, on-the-job training in a real-life, high-end service environment. Around two-thirds have moved on to paid work or a rewarding volunteering role.
Paid supported employment programme At-Your-Service – which is funded by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government, and is part of the Active Inclusion Fund managed by the WCVA – has delivered accredited qualifications and tailored support to 10 people, with all now either in work or continuing to engage.
This summer Troop Café has overhauled its menu and developed an exciting new calendar of events and drop-in sessions in collaboration with the Change Step veterans’ support campaign and other partners.
And Station Court has now attracted around 12,000 visits to the centre of Colwyn Bay since it opened in late 2013, including many major national businesses and bodies seeking high class meeting and events space.
The Social Business Wales Awards is the premier awards scheme for social businesses in Wales – a high profile celebration of imaginative, entrepreneurial, growth-focused enterprises that are passionate about social change.
CSE, which was named Conwy’s Social Enterprise of the Year in 2015, was shortlisted alongside Rhyl City Strategy and Wales Restorative Approaches Partnership.
Image: Liz Wilson and Mark Welsh (centre) collect the award from Derek Walker, chief executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre (left), and Paul Ralley, head of data analytics at category sponsor Legal & General