ARFOR, a programme working across the Welsh speaking and rural strongholds of Anglesey, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Carmarthen, to develop economical interventions that will have a positive impact on many Welsh speakers and the viability of the Welsh language, has secured £11 million funding through the Cooperation Agreement between Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, to support the second phase of the Programme.
The funding, based on the success of the first phase of the Programme, will run until March 2025 and focus on five workstreams:
Succeed Locally: An evolution of the previous project to support young people to engage in enterprise through a combination of support and financial assistance but also extend to support young families to stay in or return to the area together with trying to change the perceptions of the target groups regarding their ability to achieve their aspirations locally.
Enterprising Communities: Building on the successful business support funds available during the first phase of the ARFOR Programme, by providing financial and practical support for commercial, social and community enterprises to establish and develop. The activity will target enterprises that take advantage of the unique qualities of their communities (including the Welsh language) and/or that circulate money within their area in order to increase the amount of wealth that is kept locally.
ARFOR Challenge Fund – Establish a strategic fund to allow organisations (inc. the Councils) to submit applications for resources to develop and pilot activities in the ARFOR area that will address the Strategic Objectives of the Programme.
Strengthening the identity of ARFOR communities: Building on previous work to promote good practice and the use of the Welsh language during the first phase of the ARFOR Programme, the work will promote the identity of communities with a high density of Welsh speakers and trigger the loyalty of local residents by spreading positive messages about their area and the west of Wales as a whole.
Learning from the ARFOR Programme: A key quality of the ARFOR Programme is to stimulate collaboration and cascade learning about the field. The plan will ensure that monitoring and evaluating the results and impact of ARFOR is central to the Programme along with ensuring that structures to share the lessons from the Programme and its activity are established from the outset.
The second phase of the ARFOR Programme will be active in Carmarthenshire, Gwynedd, Ceredigion, and Anglesey. These four counties have the highest percentage of Welsh speakers in Wales with over 41% of all speakers in Wales living there. Although the Programme will work in these four counties, there will be a significant opportunity to share lessons with areas outside the ARFOR region during the life of the Programme in order to ensure that any good practice is spread as far as possible.
It is intended to establish a consultative forum made up of stakeholders from public and private organisations together with the third sector. ‘The Forum’ will be a platform to share information to a wider audience as well as receive input and guidance. Reflecting the regional system, each individual county will also ensure an appropriate forum to cascade information about the ARFOR Programme locally and to receive stakeholder input.
Further details on phase two of the ARFOR Programme can be found here: ARFOR Prospectus