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Housing innovation for village threatened by rising sea levels

A scheme to help locals move away from an area threatened by rising sea levels is among the latest recipients of funding from a £5m Innovate to Save fund.

The fund supports public and third sector organisations to trial new projects to improve public services and is run by Y Lab, which is a collaboration between Nesta and Cardiff University, with money from the Welsh Government.

Eight projects have received funding in the latest round, including Gwynedd council which has been awarded £15,000 to help support a community interest company to explore how homes in the coastal village of Fairbourne can become housing for vulnerable groups.

The company has been set up to buy homes from homeowners in the village, allowing them to move from the area, which is expected to be under water within 40 years. Vacant homes can then be rented out to disadvantaged and older people, creating a village predominantly inhabited by those over the age of 55 in semi-sheltered accommodation.

‘Faced with growing demand and resource scarcity, public servants must reimagine the way they deliver the services that citizens need,’ said Nesta’s senior innovation programmes manager’, Rob Ashelford.

‘From joining up with local charities to preventing unnecessary interventions and helping regional authorities act more swiftly, the projects announced today have the potential to be rolled out across the UK. I’m excited not only by their ideas, but also by the evident opportunities for greater collaboration between public and third sector bodies.’

Grow Cardiff has received grant funding of over £11,000 to support local people across the city to engage in community gardening to support their health and wellbeing.

The project will work with 11 GP surgeries in the south west Cardiff area, and doctors will be able to nominate patients who might benefit from taking part in a community garden project.

According to the project, low-level physical activity, such as gardening can help people reconnect with others.

It also estimates that for each person that is prescribed garden activity, public services will save £212 a year in statutory services.

The Welsh local government minister, Mark Drakeford, added: ‘At a time of reducing budgets, we must all think and work differently if we are to maintain the level of public services people require.

‘These eight projects will receive support through our Innovate to Save fund to collaborate with other organisations and bring forward innovative pilots. Not only will these generate savings which can be re-invested but they will improve services and outcomes for people across Wales.’

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