NEWS: There’s Hijinx at Cardiff Airport thanks to Arts & Business Cymru’s 100th Investment

An initiative that will see staff at Cardiff Airport being trained by actors with learning disabilities to help improve their communications skills is the 100th project to benefit from a funding injection by Arts & Business (A&B) Cymru’s CultureStep programme.

The forward-thinking scheme will see 20 members of the Airport’s security staff undergoing training with six learning disabled actors from Hijinx Theatre, who will role-play scenarios from daily life.

As well as improving the security team’s ability to communicate with a wide-range of customers, the initiative aims to complement existing customer service practices and further enhance the travel experience of vulnerable passengers at Wales’ national airport.

If the project is successful, there is scope to roll out the training to other frontline teams and develop a customer-facing filmed guide for more staff members at Cardiff Airport. It is one of 12 projects from across Wales that have just received funding through A&B Cymru’s CultureStep programme – and is the 100th project to be funded since CultureStep was launched in May 2014, thanks to funding support from The Hodge Foundation and the Moondance Foundation.

Deb Barber, Chief Executive of Cardiff Airport said: “We are very committed to delivering the best possible customer experience for everyone choosing to fly from Cardiff, and we are particularly proud of our PRM (Passengers with Reduced Mobility) service – it incorporates everything we’ve learned so far from our partners which include Autism Puzzles and Age Cymru… It’s great to continue on this path and further expand our knowledge with the support of Hijinx Theatre. The scheme is a unique and dynamic way to engage our staff and I’ve no doubt this is the beginning of an exciting chapter in our training and development.”

CultureStep is designed to encourage new sponsorship and develop existing partnerships between businesses and the arts. All projects benefit individuals living in Wales and address one or more priority issues which include tackling poverty, engaging disadvantaged children or socially excluded older people, promoting diversity, demonstrating a commitment to environmental issues, assisting health and wellbeing and training and developing employees.

Since its inception, CultureStep has invested almost £246,000 in 102 partnerships, levering a further £950,000 from business directly to the arts across Wales – that represents a return of around £3.87:£1 and a total investment of £1.2 million in just four years.

Over the past four years, programmes funded by CultureStep have helped almost 30,000 disadvantaged children and 13,000 vulnerable older people, whereas those that focus on tackling poverty have helped almost 14,000 individuals living in Wales. The next CultureStep applications will be considered at a panel meeting in July 2018.

Rachel Jones, Chief Executive at A&B Cymru, said: “The partnership between Hijinx and Cardiff Airport is the perfect project to mark such an important milestone in CultureStep’s history. Not only does it meet one of our aims to help progress Wales’s skills agenda through facilitating arts partnerships, but it also makes a positive difference to those involved as well as to the thousands of passengers who travel through Cardiff Airport daily.

“CultureStep invests £80,000 annually into business and arts partnerships. This, in turn, levers a further £300,000 from business into arts projects that benefit socially disadvantaged groups and address a range of critical issues in Wales from health to poverty and the environment.

“The projects CultureStep has supported over the past four years show the tangible benefits for individuals and communities when A&B Cymru, businesses and arts organisations come together, proving the relevance and value of the scheme. I am truly grateful to the continued support and vision of the Moondance Foundation and Hodge Foundation, without which, none of this would be possible.”

Further information about the programme can be found here

Fraser MacDonald | Image: Contributed

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