AN INNOVATIVE cycle maintenance and safety awareness scheme led by pupils from Gowerton Comprehensive School has received a funding boost from the South West Wales Community Rail Partnership.

Launched in February 2021, the Partnership’s ‘Community Changemakers Fund’ is aimed at supporting people and organisations wishing to deliver improvements in communities across the region.

More than sixty applications were received from individuals and organisations seeking a share of the £16,000 fund, which was supported by Transport for Wales, Great Western Railway, Siemens Mobility and the Community Rail Partnership.

Administered by the Carmarthenshire Association for Voluntary Services (CAVS) and the Community Rail Partnership, between £300 and £1,000 was available to apply for; with the main criteria being able to demonstrate how funding and small interventions could improve community well-being and being located near the rail network.

In a recent community survey undertaken by the school, 89% of respondents said they would use a cycle maintenance facility while 72% said they would be interested in taking a cycling safety course. Many of the individuals interested in the safety course were adults over the age of 35.

Sue Davies, Head of physical education at Gowerton Comprehensive School, said; “The grant funding is the first step for our cycling project. The funding will enable us to equip our cycling maintenance facility and allow us to train pupils in Level 1 and Level 2 Cycle maintenance. They will work alongside Kevin Rees of Gower Cycles to coordinate a Cycle Maintenance facility, which will be available to all members of the community.”

She continued; “We are also linking with the Active Journey team to develop a safe pathway to school initiative and to increase the number of pupils who can safely walk or cycle to school. As part of the health & wellbeing curriculum, all year 7 and 8 pupils will have the opportunity to follow a safe cycling or cycle proficiency programme. We are confident that they can cycle to school safely and that cycling can play a part in their lifelong journey as healthy active individuals.”

Part of the funding received from the Community Rail Partnership will be used to purchase cycle maintenance tools and stands.

Hugh Evans, head of community rail for Transport for Wales, said; “We are delighted to support this initiative. It’s great to see pupils developing new skills while helping to promote healthier and safer cycling in the community.”

GWR Community Manager Emma Morris said; “We have a specific pot of money designed to support community and not-for-profit organisations. These projects will help to enhance thousands of lives across South Wales and we know the funding will be put to good use.”

Rob Morris, Managing Director, Rail Infrastructure, Siemens Mobility UK&I said; “I’m delighted that Siemens Mobility can support the Changemakers Programme. Initiatives like these help local people proactively drive positive change – particularly important in challenging times – and I’m pleased we were able to work with South West Wales Connected to create new opportunities for community engagement.”

Formed in 2020, the community rail partnership covers the rail routes west of Port Talbot to Swansea, Carmarthen, Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven and Fishguard Harbour.

Its objectives are to develop positive partnerships between the rail industry and local organisations to promote social inclusion, sustainability, health and well-being, green travel, tourism and economic development across the region.