Woman wearing protective goggles smiles as she operates machinery

Breaking barriers, building furniture

Published : 19/07/22 | Categories: Funding |

When the closure of an automotive plant in Merthyr Tydfil lead to staff lay-offs, the Active Inclusion Fund helped Ceri and Jonathan find new work and opportunities with MTIB.

Following the closure of Kasai’s automotive plant in South Wales, around 180 people found themselves jobless. EU funding through the Active Inclusion Fund, which is managed by WCVA and supported by the European Social Fund through Welsh Government, helped some former staff back into the world of work.


Ceri spent 22 years at Kasai’s plant in Merthyr Tydfil helping build internal components for car manufacturers including Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and Honda. ‘I was gutted, really gutted’ she said of the closure ‘you think you’re going to finish your working life there, but it wasn’t to be.’

Jonathon found himself in a similar situation, after being at the factory for 15 years. ‘I’d made a lot of friends there and then I had to leave everybody. But then it was a relief to get in here, because I think it affects your mental health, not being able to work. You might get to go walk the dog, or go out  the bike, but that doesn’t pay the bills.’

Luckily for them MTIB’s Active Inclusion project, Mantais, was there to take advantage of their skills and now they’re hard at work on the factory floor, putting their years of mechanical expertise to use operating machinery that helped construct office furniture that’s made its way into WCVA’s very own new office space in Cardiff.

‘We’ve been working in collaboration with Ministry of Furniture’ said Richard Welfoot, CEO of MTIB ‘to deliver sustainable solutions with a social benefit. EU funding has been critical for us and by doing this we’re hoping to give something back, and to work with the sector while demonstrating that people with health conditions, disabilities and disadvantages can get back into work.’


When WCVA moved out of our office in Mount Stuart Square and into a new building in Cardiff in One Canal Parade, an opportunity was spotted to work with the sector to provide much needed furniture and fittings for our new space.

Moving further up the business supply chain helps MTIB generate income, and in turn helps them sustain employment opportunities that might have first been provided by AIF funding. And for the staff at MTIB, the benefits of this go beyond just a wage.

‘You can see that people gain confidence, day in, day out’ Richard explained ‘we’re not just going to support them in work, we’re going to support them with barriers they may face outside of work. Transport, childcare issues, being able to work with them helps give them back a work ethic.’

‘The main thing is giving people confidence and helping with mental health issues. We give them lots of mentoring, counselling, and give people the opportunity to show they can deliver.’


Now that the final EU funded projects are coming to an end and we transition to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, we’re asking for your help to get the message out about the vital work EU funds have helped you deliver.

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