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Inspirational Church-run bowling centre celebrates birthday

Centre Manager, Dave Insull.

AN inspiring social enterprise operating in the heart of Carmarthen is celebrating its sixth year in business and is continuing to go from strength-to-strength as it supports vital services for the local community.

Xcel Bowl, a bowling and activity centre, was founded in June 2013 by the Town Community Church, who renovated a disused dairy factory with the goal of creating a community space to bring local people together.

As part of its six-year anniversary celebrations, the organisation has partnered with the Wales Co-operative Centre to be part of its Social Summer 2019 campaign, which is encouraging families across Wales to make more use of the wide-range of family-friendly social enterprises over the Summer holidays.

The social enterprise has also welcomed the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, who visited the Xcel Bowl at the end of July in recognition of its social impact in the region.
Boasting 12 bowling lanes, with the latest touch-screen technology, a popular café, and a multi-level play area for children aged up-to-seven, Xcel Bowl has become one of the key entertainment hubs in the region.

Speaking about the importance of social enterprises in Wales, Dave Insull, Xcel centre manager said: “Over the course of our journey and growth as an organisation we have witnessed first-hand just how successful social enterprises can be in igniting change and bringing a new lease of life to local areas for the benefit of all community members. That’s why we’re delighted to be part of the Wales Coop Centre’s Social Summer 2019 campaign to show the public that every penny they spend at social enterprises during the summer holidays will help to directly support local communities across Wales.”

As Xcel Bowl has grown, so too has the number of employment opportunities it has created. Originally staffed by 16 people, Xcel Bowl and its associated projects now employs 46 people and engages with more than 100 volunteers every week. The centre is also a ‘Disability Confident Employer’ and provides jobs to a number of disabled employees.

Part of the wider ‘Xcel Carmarthen Project’, which also includes the Carmarthen Foodbank, Xcel Furniture Recycling and the Xcel Community Shop, Xcel Bowl invests all of its profits back into local social and environmental projects and plays a crucial role in supporting some of Carmarthen’s most vulnerable community members.

Partnering with the Trussell Trust and other local charities, the Xcel Carmarthen Project supports local people in crisis by giving away emergency food parcels, clothing, furniture, and other household essentials.

Xcel Bowl also supports local charities by offering concessionary rates on bowling for the Carmarthenshire Youth Service, Mencap, the Council Fostering Services and others.

Catherine Evans, marketing manager at the Wales Co-operative Centre, said: “Social enterprises create huge value for the Welsh economy and they also create so many benefits for local communities, which is why are Social Summer 2019 is so important. We want to raise awareness with the public that there are social enterprises nearby, where they can visit over the summer holidays to enjoy themselves, while also supporting a wider social cause.”

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As a testament to the importance of the social enterprise’s work within the community, Xcel Bowl has won several awards including in 2018, the Gold Award for Community Tourism and Bronze award for sustainable tourism at the Carmarthenshire Tourism Awards, and the Charity of the Year at the Carmarthen Town Business Awards.

With Xcel Bowl celebrating its sixth anniversary, the organisation is a glowing example of the thriving social business sector in Wales, and its importance for the Welsh economy.

The ‘Mapping the Social Business Sector in Wales’ report, published earlier this year, found that the social business sector in Wales is worth an estimated £3.18bn to the Welsh economy, a 34% increase on findings in 2016.

Social enterprises play a key role in creating job opportunities for local communities. The 2,022 social enterprises in Wales employ around 55,000 people and provide volunteering opportunities to an estimated 58,000 individuals.

In addition, around a quarter of all social businesses invest their profits in their social objectives and more than 75 per cent pay the Real Living Wage to all their staff, compared to just 48 per cent of Welsh SMEs.

If you want to support social enterprises like the Xcel Bowl, you can learn more about the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Social Summer 2019 campaign by visiting https://wales.coop/social-summer- 2019/ or looking for the #SocialSummerCym hashtag on social media.