Our communities have a vital role to play in making sure we have access to basic goods and services to keep us fit and well.
But if our communities are to be thriving, prosperous centres where the people of Wales can get the goods and services they need, then we need to make sure we invest in them.
I was therefore pleased last week when the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, announced that the Welsh Government has doubled the funding available to support local businesses, projects and activities to £3 million.
The Foundational Economy Challenge Fund announced by the First Minister aims to help develop Wales’s regional economy to make sure our wealth is shared more evenly across Wales.
Under the fund, up to £100,000 is available for experimental projects to help test how the Welsh Government can best support local economies.
The foundational economy provides the basic goods and services we use every day, such as care and health services, food, housing, energy, construction, tourism and high street shops.
Care services are a vital part of the foundational economy, with adult social care the seventh biggest contributor to the Welsh economy, contributing more than £2 billion and creating jobs for 127,000 people.
The Foundational Economy Challenge Fund provides communities across Wales with an opportunity to improve their prospects by keeping Welsh money in our communities, which hopefully, in turn, will increase employment and improve conditions.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for businesses, enterprises and projects that provide care and support in communities, and I’d urge anyone working in care in Wales to take advantage of it and apply for the fund.
Care is a growing economic sector in Wales, and one of the ways we and our partners are supporting local care providers is through the WeCare campaign.
Launched this spring, the campaign aims to help attract more people into roles in care in Wales because we know that over the next 10 years, we will need around 20,000 more care workers.
The campaign was shaped by the feedback we received from people already working in care, as well as members of the public, who shared their perceptions of working in the sector.
The campaign has been well received so far. More than 12,000 people have already visited the WeCare website, with 17 per cent of visitors to the employment section going on to visit the websites of the 200 care providers featured on the site.
One of the most popular aspects of the campaign has been the videos of care workers.
The videos, which are available on the WeCare website, feature real care workers, not actors, sharing their experiences of working in different roles – so far, they’ve been viewed more than 87,000 times.
We’re also very grateful to our many partners in the care sector who’ve supported the campaign and I’d like to thank them all for their continued support.
If you’re interested in getting involved in the campaign or a career in care, why not visit wecare.wales to find out more?
For those of you interested in applying for the Foundational Economy Challenge Fund, applications are open until 12 July 2019 and you can register your interest by calling 0300 060 3000.
You can find more information about the fund on the Business Wales website at businesswales.gov.wales