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The Penywaun Enterprise Partnership
PEP (The Penywaun Enterprise Partnership) is an exemplar local regeneration organisation, anchored in the community of Penywaun, nestled in the scenic valley of the River Cynon in Central South Wales, where the past 150 years has witnessed significant change. Once, coal and mining were synonymous with the Welsh Valleys. Recent decades, however, have seen the marked decline of heavy industry, leaving an equally weighty challenge of shaping a new society, environment and economy in its wake – a challenge taken up PEP.
Locally, Penywaun has its place in history as a meeting place of the remarkable men and families who, through the adversity of the miners’ strike in 1984, pooled their redundancy payments and re-opened Tower Colliery, now probably one of the world’s most famous workers’ co-operatives. It was the same spirit and determination that led to the formation of PEP, the Penywaun Enterprise Partnership. Poverty, disadvantage, disaffection and social exclusion became unwelcome labels that stigmatised a community struggling to survive the tectonic shift in the local economy. Daunted but not despairing, local residents came together to confront and combat the complex factors of multiple deprivation masked by the splendour of the surrounding landscape.
PEP was established in March 1996 for the social, economic and environmental regeneration of Penywaun Ward, which includes the estates of Penywaun, Trenant and Trewaun. A Registered Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee, PEP is now one of the longest established Development Trusts in Wales. On a daily basis, PEP works at the grassroots with individuals and groups of all ages and abilities, seeking to address their needs and aspirations and to encourage them, and the community as a whole, to a sustainable and fulfilled future. PEP also brokers links with agencies and initiatives beyond the immediate community, working collaboratively to improve service delivery, create employment, introduce doorstep training opportunities and attract resources to continue its mission. Politically, PEP seeks to interest, inform and influence the powers-that-be, offering direct feedback on policy implementation and impact, making the ‘bigger picture’ a little clearer and a lot more lifelike.
Since 1996, PEP has evolved from being an organisation with two staff and a petty cash float of £50 to employing thirty staff, all but one from the locality, and managing an annual turnover in excess of £500,000. Within the community, PEP’s informal yet thoroughly professional approach to community development is characterised by the slogan, “Holding Hands and Kicking Arse!”. At the same time, PEP is piloting and pioneering new forms of community enterprise in Wales, working alongside other Development Trusts in joint ventures to have a direct impact upon local economic development, creating jobs and training whilst also seeking to increase and diversify income streams to maintain its charitable activity.
Far from perfection, yet close to the people, the Penywaun Eneterprise Partnership is a seasoned and experienced operation with a privileged position at the heart of the community. It is a position that demands diplomacy, skill and dedication from PEP’s staff, volunteers, management and partners. Together, their input to the learning, well-being, safety and sustainability of the local community is a contribution to be valued and celebrated alongside that of more traditional agencies and approaches. The people of Penywaun are still mining, but now the majority are digging deep within themselves to discover more of their own potential and to explore how they can shape their future and that of their community, of which PEP is proud to be a part.