Blind and partially-sighted Merthyr Tydfil people who would be housebound if not for a weekly social gathering will no longer have to pay for transport there, thanks to a grant covering their travel costs.
Merthyr Eyelights – formerly Merthyr Blind Club - which provides an opportunity for people with visual impairment to meet for lunch, bingo and other activities, has been awarded £3,500 from the Ffos-y-fran Community Benefit Intermediate Grant Fund.
The funding will pay for the group’s hire of Hope and Market Square United Church Hall, plus hire of two minibuses for a year rather than members having to pay for individual transport.
“The project provides a much-needed social outlet in a safe environment to improve the members’ mobility, independence and quality of life,” said Eyelights Chair John Cannon.
“Without this provision, most of these vulnerable adults would be housebound, as they are unable to travel out of their homes alone or use public transport,” he added.
The 16 group members are aged between 65 and 85 and live across the county borough, from Dowlais to Cefn Coed y Cymmer and Quaker’s Yard. Voluntary Action Merthyr Tydfil works with the group in recruiting volunteers to help serve lunch and run activities.
The Ffos-y-fran Community Benefit Fund was established by local mining company Miller Argent, which donates £1 for every ton of coal sold from the Ffos-y-fran land reclamation scheme.
This year, the business celebrated the milestone of having extracted five million tonnes of coal from the site since its opening in 2007, meaning the fund has contributed £5m to benefit a wide range of groups and causes.
Miller Argent Managing Director Neil Brown said: “As a Merthyr Tydfil-based business, we take our obligations and responsibilities to our local communities extremely seriously.
“It’s vital to us that the community is able to benefit from our work, and we’re proud to have contributed to the establishment of so many worthwhile projects – such as Merthyr Eyelights - and look forward to continuing to do so.”
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council Leader Cllr Brendan Toomey said the grant would help increase participation in activities for people who would otherwise be housebound, allowing them to become more active and avoid long periods of isolation.
“We’re delighted to be able to administer the Ffos-y-fran Community Benefit Fund,” he added. “It’s giving local organisations the chance to obtain money they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and helping improve the quality of life for so many of our residents.”
•The Ffos-y-fran Intermediate Fund supports local community projects with an educational, environmental or leisure emphasis. Grants are for revenue/capital costs and there is no minimum award, although the maximum is £5,000.
The closing date for applications from the next round of awards is 31 March, 2016. Application forms are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; tel 01685 725289