Rebuilding Local for our Valleys

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Welsh high streets have been in the news a lot this past year with concerns over the future of our town centres. Despite the economic impact this year has had on our communities, individuals are visiting their local shops for essentials and councils are going about their daily commitments such as maintaining grass verges and roundabouts. As a nation, country and globe we have learned the true value of looking after our own community as well as our personal mental and physical health.

The foundational economy consists of basic services and products that we all rely on such as, food, housing, and retailers on the high street. Over the past year and beyond, we have been asking what our valleys would look like if we better supported these at a local level. Repeated questions include, how could we help more local businesses thrive? If they did, would fewer people commute to the cities? And as a result would more of us spend time with people in our own neighbourhoods?

The Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Fund is supporting a series of projects which develops the foundational economy. As part of this programme, RHA Wales Group Ltd have been reviewing their internal policies and procedures to better support the local economy.

On discussing what’s been achieved, Matthew Reardon, Foundational Economy Officer at RHA Wales said:

“This work has allowed us to set new FE supporting high-level policies and protocols in place. Having these agreed, together with an executive and board level steer and a whole-of-organisation commitment mean that we’re now able to confidently and transparently reach out and engage much further with our communities when it’s safe to do so”.

Just up the road, in Treherbert, Rhondda Skyline is a project designed to build a new community organisation, as well as kick-start small businesses, based on local natural assets.

Talking to Valleys Regional Park, Mel Newton, project Manager for Rhondda Skyline said:

“Communities in the Rhondda are very strong so providing the foundation for business and training opportunities closer to home would mean a lot to people. Many people commute out for work but imagine what communities could look like if fewer people needed to do that? It’s about local pride and identity, not just the financial aspect of the economy”.

Valleys Regional Park works across all sectors to develop aspects of the foundational economy in our valleys including community food growing, access to nature for recreation and wellbeing, and a greener future for our town centres.  For more information contact our Convenor for Communities and Enterprise by email:

This project is funded by the Welsh Government European Social Fund and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. For more information on Valleys Regional Park please visit

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