Welsh language body handed £200k as talks continue over long term future
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
The body responsible for promoting the Welsh language in Gwynedd has been allocated an extra £200,000 as talks continue over its long-term future.
At present, Hunaniaith is located as a service within Gwynedd Council’s structures, but is the only menter iaith in the country which is managed in such a way.
Last year a Hunaniaith authored report proposed substantial structural changes, including the possibility of greater autonomy in order to put it in a better position to obtain outside funding.
But while the authority commissioned a task force to consider its long-term future, it will remain under Gwynedd Council’s umbrella for now.
With the cabinet approving a £203,880 investment, the cash will be used to pay for a new chief officer over the next four years.
They will be tasked with attracting new grants and raising income, improving community contact, attracting more community members to the Strategic Group and working towards becoming an independent entity while cutting most ties with the authority.
Cllr Nia Jeffreys, who holds the council’s Welsh language brief, said: “Over the years, Gwynedd’s innovative language policies and strategies have protected our Welsh-speaking communities and led the way nationally.
“We will shortly appoint a chief officer for the initiative which will enhance this important community link, as well as working on attracting additional external funding to support the work of promoting the Welsh language in Gwynedd.
“This is the start of an exciting new era for Welsh as a community language and our aim in the future will be to see Hunaniaith as a powerful independent entity that has close relationships with communities across the county.”
As part of their work, Hunaniaith officers are responsible for a wide-range of initiatives to promote and increase the use of the language, including working with a number of local organisations and groups as well as freelancers on various projects for families, children and young people.
But while five members of staff were once employed, since 2015 and with a reduction in the grant received from Welsh Government – from £224,362 in 2015-16 to £166,890 in 2020-21 – the direct staffing under the grant is now equivalent to 3.5 full-time members of staff.
Last year’s review found that other language initiatives, however, having been established as companies limited by guarantee – and charities in a few cases – have been able to enhance their income thanks to grants from various public bodies and charitable funds, projects developed jointly with local government departments, commissions for advisory or project management work, direct fundraising and income from commercial subsidiary companies.
Dafydd Iwan, chairman of the Hunaniaith Strategic Group, added: “Everyone wants to see Hunaniaith continue to make a positive contribution to the Welsh language in communities across Gwynedd.
“The decision of the council’s Cabinet is the culmination of over a year of work to identify how best to enable Hunaniaith to unleash the limitless potential of the Welsh language in Gwynedd.
“With new funding in place, it will be able to move to the next phase which will intensify the support available to promote and increase the use of Welsh in every corner of the county, and in particular so in the areas where there has been linguistic decline.”