On Thursday 25 May, members of Wales Rural Network Support Unit attended an event to mark the end of the LEADER funding 2014 – 2020 in Caerphilly & Blaenau Gwent and celebrate the achievements of over fifty-five project that have been funded during this period.
LEADER funding was first made available to Caerphilly in 2008 with the addition of Blaenau Gwent in 2014 and during this time over £7 million has been invested into communities, businesses and places.
Each and every project that receives funding is managed and driven by people who are passionate about their communities and care about the people that live within them and with so many to chose from over the last 7 years, the projects that attended and showcased their work were a tiny sample of the work achieved through this Programme.
The very ethos of LEADER is ‘local’, helping communities to –
- Add Value to Local Identity and Natural and Cultural Resources
- Facilitate pre-commercial development, business partnerships and short supply chains
- Explore new ways of providing non-statutory local services
- Provide Renewable Energy at a Community Level
- Exploit the use of Digital Technology
Projects showcased at the Celebration -
This project has created a lasting memorial to Llywelyn Bren, a forgotten Welsh hero who fought for justice and sacrificed his life.
Llywelyn was an important local man who had authority under the Normans, but when the Great Famine of 1315-17 began to affect Wales and the new king of England, Edward II refused to help, Llywelyn assembled an army of men to rebel and attack Caerphilly Castle.
We heard about how copies of this beautifully illustrated book are now in all borough schools and is soon to be extended into other surrounding county’s’ schools.
In Gelligaer, there is a Llewelyn Bren information board and the timber for the stand was made from an oak tree rumoured to have been a sapling at the time when he came to Llancaiach Fawr, in Nelson.
The oak was milled by another Cwm a Mynydd project – WoodLabPren.
HIVE (Holistic, Individualised, Volunteering, Employment) pilot, is an innovative new skills, employment and social inclusion project trialling a new way of supporting people with complex needs, whilst contributing to the economic development of Llanhilleth.
Hayley Davies from HIVE explained that the concept is a unique programme of holistic, wraparound support and intervention, all accessible under one roof. It is a multifaceted and inter-connected programme that offers opportunities for:
- Volunteering and work experience,
- Adult literacy support,
- Healthy cookery and access to fresh food and
- Training to enhance work and life skills and gain qualifications
Hayley explained how the project, not the first project to have received funding through Cwm a Mynydd, has been more successful than they could ever have imagined! They now have a café and bakery, all run by volunteers who have taken part in The Training Hub - Promoting Healthy Eating And Cookery For All The Family.
The Cadw designated Historic Landscape of Gelligaer and Merthyr Common is a unique ecosystem providing important economic, social and environmental ‘value’ to the rural communities that surround and rely on it.
However, the landscape is under threat primarily due to a high level of anti-social behaviour including fly-tipping, littering, off-road vehicles and environmental damage.
Mark Ward & Glyn Davies spoke passionately about ‘Common Landscapes’ firstly explaining how these landscapes are anything but common land, local farmers use them to help reduce the cost of farming by grazing their animals on the commons therefore saving the farmland to help with winter feed.
The commons rely heavily on volunteers who help by keeping the landscape clean of rubbish that is constantly fly tipped in the area.
Through the project Mark, along with other local stakeholders and farmers, participated in another upland co-operation project to explore and exchange ideas ion farming for wildlife with areas in the Republic of Ireland on the Burren.
Common Landscapes project is working hard to keep our landscape beautiful!
Over the past few years, Regener8Cymru have delivered a number of projects targeting support for school pupils and young people to better equip them to deal with increasingly challenging and complex social situations.
Penny Chapman explained what was delivered and the difference it has made to those involved and why this work is important to mainstream in the future.
She reported on the massive increase in children’s wellbeing and mental health awareness since the pandemic. Many children do not even realise that their mental health is under pressure until they start to talk about the everyday issues that they face – so many children sadly think that what they experience in their homelife is not ‘normal’ for most youngsters.
What Penny has experienced through the project is that there is a massive need for the support and interventions that are offered in these schools, explaining that in the case of one particular child who was very shy and withdrawn, if took a long time to even get them to talk to the support team, but through perseverance and support, this particular child they have seen a real change in the pupil and their wellbeing.
At the end of the morning’s presentations, visitors were able to visit an exhibition showcase allowing visitors to speak to the above projects along with other examples of the wonderful projects funded by LEADER and Cwm a Myndydd.