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Welsh Land Train service wins Social Enterprise of the Year

Lucie the Porthcawl Land Train at Coney Beach

A Welsh homelessness charity has won a national award for its unique social enterprise, Lucie the Porthcawl Land Train.

Bridgend-based charity Emmaus South Wales, which offers accommodation, support, training, and work opportunities to people experiencing homelessness, was named Social Enterprise of the Year at the 2022 Social Business Wales Awards this week (Monday 10 October) for its community tourism land train enterprise, Lucie.

Based in the seafront town of Porthcawl, Lucie the Land Train is staffed by a team of formerly homeless people living in the charity’s accommodation, who work alongside an experienced driver to look after passengers and provide the customer service experience. ‘Lucie’, which can carry 68 passengers in total and has wheelchair access, offers the people Emmaus supports the chance to gain new skills, work experience and confidence for future employment, while also raising funds for the support services the charity provides.

Emmaus launched the land train service in August 2021 and operates seven days a week during the summer months, with a reduced service during low season. The service follows a four-mile route along Porthcawl’s seafront, travelling from Coney Beach to Rest Bay and back again with stops in-between. The charity also runs several other social enterprises including three reuse stores in Bridgend and Porthcawl, as well as a house clearance service.

The 2022 Social Business Wales Awards marked the ninth year of the awards ceremony, which was a live in person event for the first time since 2019. The Awards are part of the Social Business Wales programme delivered by Cwmpas, a development agency for economic and social change, and funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government.

L-R: Jennifer Jones, BBC Wales Today presenter and event host; Darren, Emmaus beneficiary; Roland, Emmaus beneficiary; Angela Davey, Emmaus Shop Manager; Emmaus beneficiary Paul; Jemma Wray, Emmaus Chief Executive; Josephine, Emmaus beneficiary; Julie Raikes, Emmaus trustee; Greg Jenkins, Emmaus Land Train Driver; and Derek Walker, CEO of Cwmpas. Credit: Tom Martin / Wales News Service

This year’s ceremony was hosted by BBC Wales Today presenter Jennifer Jones and kicked off with a performance from Choirs of Good and opening address from Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for the Economy of Wales. There were 10 award categories, with Emmaus South Wales also a finalist in the Environmental Social Enterprise category for its re-use and recycling work, as well as the Building Diversity, Inclusion, Equality and Justice category for the support it offers to people who have been homeless and its provision for discounted furniture for low-income families and individuals.

Commenting on the recognition, Jemma Wray, Chief Executive at Emmaus South Wales, said:

“We are thrilled to receive Social Enterprise of the Year for Lucie the Land Train and to be recognised in two other award categories was an honour. When Bridgend Council were seeking a land train operator for Porthcawl, we saw an opportunity for a new social enterprise that allowed us to provide different roles and opportunities for the people we support, whilst giving us another platform to raise awareness of homelessness in our local area.

“We are delighted to be able to say that Lucie is now Porthcawl’s award-winning land train service. Receiving this award and being considered in two other categories really is a credit to the hard work of all the people we support, our dedicated staff team and our wonderful volunteers. We had a great time at the ceremony and loved hearing about all the brilliant work happening across Wales thanks to the commitment and innovation of social enterprises.”

Those in attendance at the ceremony from Emmaus South Wales included trustee Julie Raikes, staff members Jemma Wray, Angela Davey, and Greg Jenkins, as well as Paul, Roland, Darren, and Josephine who are currently being supported by the charity.

All winners from the Social Business Wales Awards go on to represent Wales at the prestigious UK Social Enterprise Awards, held at London’s Roundhouse on Thursday 8 December. Emmaus South Wales is finalist in two categories: Social Enterprise of the Year and Customer Facing Social Enterprise of the Year, both for Lucie the Land Train.

Glenn Bowen, Director of Enterprise at Cwmpas, said: “Social enterprises embedded within their communities provide much needed support, services and jobs.

“We have brilliant examples of businesses doing their bit to reduce the impact of climate change and reaching out to new members of the community through their equity, diversity and inclusion work. Congratulations to all our wonderful winners.”

The Social Business Wales Awards 2022 categories are sponsored by Ecology Building Society, Legal and General, Creating Enterprise, Acuity Law, NatWest, Triodos, Choose 2 Reuse, University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD), BIC Innovation and Great Western Railway.