By Lesley Griffiths

MS for Wrexham

For many of us, the coronavirus pandemic has severely affected our working lives.

One element of my job that has been hampered over the past 18 months is the ability to get out and about in the constituency, visiting people and groups in person and discovering the positive stories that often go unnoticed.

Thankfully, with restrictions relaxed, this has started to change and last Friday was a particularly enjoyable day.

Firstly, I visited the Development Bank of Wales, which was set up by the Welsh Government to support businesses, making it easier for them to get the finance needed to start up, strengthen and grow.

The Bank could have been located anywhere in the country but I am proud its headquarters are in Wrexham.

According to their latest figures, the Bank paid out almost £200m in loans in the last financial year, helping safeguard 16,000 jobs, and they’ve supported over 130 start-up companies.

The Development Bank is overseeing the Welsh Government’s Town Centre Entrepreneurship Fund. This pilot scheme is specifically aimed at helping people who are looking to start and grow a business in one of four North Wales town centres – Bangor, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and Wrexham.

I was pleased to hear a significant number of applications have come from Wrexham and with the fund open until June 2022, I hope even more local entrepreneurs will benefit.

I managed to meet up with the team at Empower – Be the Change.

The Wrexham-based social enterprise has been shortlisted for two prestigious national awards and after supporting Jo and her team since 2016, I am so pleased they are getting the recognition they deserve. Good luck at the award ceremony!

It was a pleasure catching up with pupils and staff at All Saints’ Primary School in Gresford. There was a lovely atmosphere at the school and I was interested to hear all about the work Years 5 and 6 are doing in relation to climate change.

I look forward to corresponding with students ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.

Finally, as a proud patron of The Venture in Caia Park, I was honoured to attend the celebration of the switch on of Virgin Media’s ultrafast broadband service.

Access to fast, reliable broadband is essential in this day and age.

The Venture has helped countless children over the past four decades and I know improving connectivity will have a major, positive impact not just on the children who will use the services in the coming years, but also to the families and the wider community.