As a way of providing funding for community projects in off-grid areas of the UK, Calor set up its Rural Community Fund in 2017 and has since been able to support 236 amazing rural community projects, raising more than £560,000 for their incredible causes.
One exceptional project from 2020 was the campaign to source beach wheelchairs for Llys Cadfan care home in the seaside village of Abergynolwyn, found in the county of Gwynedd, north-west Wales. The care home specialises in providing later life care for those diagnosed with dementia, as well as supporting the family and friends of the residents too.
Many of the residents benefit hugely from recalling childhood memories, lots of which involved being on the beach. Unfortunately, normal wheelchairs are unable to manoeuvre on sand, so specialised equipment was needed for the residents to be able to enjoy a day at the seaside and relive their precious memories.
Where it began
Dilys Williams became familiar with the care staff and facilities at Llys Cadfan after a relative who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s became one of its residents. Over the years that Dilys has visited the care home, the range of activities provided, as well as the incredibly high level of care and love the staff have for all the residents, inspired her to see how she could help fund the beach wheelchairs that would benefit the care home so greatly.
Dilys explains: “Over the time that I have visited my Aunty at Llys Cadfan, my perception completely changed. At first, I didn’t know a lot about the condition and often came away from visits feeling quite down. But the more I got to see the way the care home works and experience some of the brilliant activities in action, that’s when I started to come away from the visits with a smile on my face. Seeing the residents laughing and playing together, almost being transported to times in their childhood, was wonderful to be a part of.
“Many of the residents talk of fond memories on the beach either with their children or as a child themselves, so the home started to search for donations for beach wheelchairs with the aim that the residents could further connect with those memories.
“I started searching for donations in the area just hoping to help however I could. We received some small donations from local organisations, but we still had a long way to go to reach the amount needed to purchase even just one beach wheelchair, which can cost between £3,000 and £5000.
Discovering the Rural Community Fund
“At this time, I came across the Calor Rural Community Fund and thought I’d give it a go and submit an application. Soon enough we were accepted, and the crowdfunding stage began.”
The first stage of the Rural Community Fund process involves setting out the aims of the project to encourage crowdfunding from the public, who can donate towards the worthy initiatives. Once the projects are shared on the Calor website, every like, share and donation to a project is worth points that accumulate at the end of this stage. The highest scoring projects then go through to the finals where they are scored by a panel of impartial judges.
Dilys continues: “It is hard work, especially considering at this time it was the start of the first lockdown when nothing was certain and for a lot of people money was tight, but Calor were amazing with helping us through the process and keeping in touch throughout. Even if somebody donated a pound, I was extremely grateful, so never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d raise enough money with the Calor funding and crowdfunding for two beach wheelchairs! The local community was so incredibly generous, and we feel closer to them from the experience.”
Putting the funds to use
Llys Cadfan was one of 21 applicants to receive the funding from Calor after being chosen by a panel of impartial judges, following the public support stage. The project was in the £2,500 category and in total raised almost £9,500 for their cause. This meant they were able to build storage as well as purchase an additional beach wheelchair and have sufficient funds for maintenance as a result.
Dilys said: “After we received this incredible amount of funding, we were able to purchase two beach wheelchairs, a ramp and a shed to store them in. We are all so thankful to Calor for the opportunity to be able to bring so much happiness to the residents.
“The beach wheelchairs have already been out on the beach, and it’s been amazing to see the positive impact they have had on the residents.
“We have had people from the local community as well as visiting holidaymakers rent the beach wheelchairs too, which is a great way for us to make sure we have a way of paying for maintenance, as well as sharing the experience these wheelchairs offer with the wider community. In the long run we hope this could possibly fund either buying another beach wheelchair or other equipment for activities at the care home. The plan with this project was always to think about how we can continue to grow and well, the more wheelchairs we can buy and keep maintained, means more people with dementia or with other disabilities will be able to use them.”
Everyone at Llys Cadfan is optimistic about the future and look forward to how they can continue to develop this project and benefit more people. Dilys, the carers and the residents are very thankful to Calor for providing this opportunity and for the £2,500 of funding as well as showing their gratitude to the local community for all their support and kind donations from the beginning.
To find out more about this year’s Calor Rural Community Fund winning projects and sign up for updates, visit: www.communityfund.calor.co.uk