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Local charity shortlisted in prestigious awards for land train service

Lucie the Porthcawl Land Train at Coney Beach

Local homelessness charity Emmaus South Wales is a finalist in the prestigious UK Social Enterprise Awards, which recognises businesses that are transforming communities and tackling climate change.

Social enterprises are businesses that trade for a social or environmental purpose, and Emmaus South Wales has been recognised as one of the UK’s most effective enterprises this year.

The Bridgend-based charity is a finalist in the Consumer Facing Social Enterprise of the Year category for Lucie the Land Train, its tourist attraction in Porthcawl which launched in August 2021 with the support of Bridgend Council.

Emmaus South Wales provides accommodation and support to formerly homeless people, who volunteer full-time in the charity’s social enterprises to learn new skills, build confidence and gain work experience.

The charity’s land train team is made up of an employee driver and charity beneficiaries, who gain experience in the hospitality and tourism sectors by providing the customer service experience, selling tickets, seating passengers and managing safety onboard.

Running Wednesday to Friday, Lucie the Land Train starts at Coney Beach before heading along the coastline to Rest Bay, with several stops in-between. All income from ticket sales goes directly back to Emmaus and helps to fund the accommodation and support the charity offers.

There are an estimated 100,000 social enterprises in the UK contributing around £60bn annually to the UK economy and are set up to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing society.

The UK Social Enterprise Awards are run by Social Enterprise UK, the UK’s leading membership body for social enterprises. Emmaus South Wales will be joining other shortlisted organisations and guests at a prestigious awards ceremony held at London’s iconic Roundhouse on Thursday 8 December.

Commenting on being shortlisted, Chief Executive of Emmaus South Wales Jemma Wray said:

“We are absolutely thrilled to be finalists in the UK Social Enterprise Awards for Lucie the Land Train. When we started the service, we saw an opportunity to provide the people we support with new roles and responsibilities, whilst contributing to Porthcawl’s tourism sector and raising awareness of homelessness at the same time. The recognition of our social enterprise in the customer-facing category really is a credit to our driver, Greg, and the people we support who are on our land train team. They all work extremely hard to support our customers whilst also taking steps to rebuild their lives after experiencing homelessness. We’re extremely excited to attend the awards ceremony in December and look forward to celebrating with the other finalists.”

Commenting on the Awards, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK Peter Holbrook said:

“The UK Social Enterprise Awards are the ultimate showcase of the impact and excellence of social enterprises. These are trailblazers and standard setters for how to do business better, in ways that put people and planet first. They empower and uplift communities. They show us all how we can do business in a way that helps the environment. And they do all this while facing the same challenges as other businesses.

“In these turbulent times, they are a beacon of innovation, optimism and resilience. Those who have made the shortlist of these awards have proven their business’ ability to weather the storm of the pandemic, keeping their business and their mission on track.

“The challenges we face as a society demand new approaches and a shift in the way that businesses big and small act. The entries for this year’s award continue to inspire, innovate and show us all how businesses can help us meet many of these challenges head on.”