07/04/2015

13,000 visitors ensure successful first year for Cardiff skate park backed by funding for social enterprises

A Cardiff-based social enterprise, backed by the Welsh Government’s Wales Micro-business Loan Fund, is celebrating a successful first year after surpassing its annual target of 13,000 visitors.

Spit & Sawdust, an indoor skate park, community café and art space, opened last year on the eastside of Cardiff.  As a non-profit organisation they secured £20,000 start-up investment through Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) to help get the enterprise off the ground.  The investment came from the Welsh Government-backed Wales Micro-business Loan Fund.

Since opening last year the venue has hosted nearly 30 different events ranging from gigs and festivals to exhibitions, film premieres and charity fundraisers.

They now have over 700 members, and run a number of regular sessions. Weekly under 10’s morning has proved very popular and they have recently started a monthly female only session with free tuition.

The venue’s café has also been a big hit, impressing local food bloggers with rave reviews of its ethically and locally sourced, home-made food.

Director Nia Metcalfe reflects on a successful first year:

“It took over 18 months of planning to get the park open so we are delighted the first year has gone so well. We passed our annual target of 13,000 visitors two months early and some of the events we have hosted attracted crowds of over 300 people a time.

“As a non-profit organisation our main priority is giving something back to the community.  It’s been very rewarding watching people of all ages discover skating here, make friends and feel like they are part of something.”

“Without WCVA and the funding from the Wales Micro-business Loan Fund opening Spit & Sawdust would not have been possible, so we are extremely grateful for their support.”

Having hosted several exhibitions and creative events in 2014 such as a symposium for Cardiff’s well-established Made In Roath Festival, Spit & Sawdust’s focus for the coming year is to further progress their art programme.

“The skate  community is really creative and the art programme is something we are looking to develop more this year. We are currently planning a number of exhibitions, residencies and events in collaboration with local artists, providing a place to create work as well as present it” Nia continued.

The Wales Business Micro Loan Fund, which is set to run until 2018 has £1 million of its £6 million total allocated specifically for micro loans to social enterprises under the management of the WCVA.

Matt Brown, Social Investment (Cymru) Manager at WCVA commented:

“This is a great example of the type of success that can be achieved from real partnership working. The Micro Business Loan Fund brings together not only Finance Wales and WCVA, but also Coalfields Regeneration Trust and the Credit Unions in Wales to fund projects that are making a real difference in our communities across the country.”

“Spit & Sawdust is establishing a truly sustainable business model whilst at the same time having significant social impact. They are far from being the only ones to have benefitted from investment in this way and we now have numerous examples of social enterprises in Wales making their mark in a variety of different fields. “

“We are really pleased to have recently been able to increase the maximum loan available from £20,000 up to £50,000 which means more help for more people. We’re on the lookout for more social entrepreneurs to follow Spit & Sawdust’s example”

Nicola Edwards, Micro-business Loan Fund Manager at Finance Wales also commented on the impact of the fund.  She said:

“Many Welsh social enterprises make a big difference to their communities and the Wales Micro-business Loan Fund can provide them with the finance they need to get key projects off the ground. They can now benefit from loans of up to £50,000, so they can think big and be ambitious about the projects they want to develop.”