Communities across Wales want greater recognition of how groups, individuals and local organisations are providing essential support and services that are being lost elsewhere according to research carried out by the Young Foundation.
Ethnographer Hannah Green outlines Amplify Cymru research findings at Bulldogs Boxing Gym and Community Centre
The research carried out in communities in three towns – Aberystwyth, Connah’s Quay and Port Talbot – highlights key concerns for people living in a wide range of communities across the country.
For the past year, The Young Foundation has been running a project called Amplify Cymru looking at the changes needed within local communities in order to see successful and sustainable social change. Amplify Cymru has focussed on gaining an understanding of what communities across the country need and want, as well as what has already been achieved.
The main findings from the work in Aberystwyth, Connah’s Quay and Port Talbot suggest:
- local people are best placed to know the needs of their communities and should be involved in all decision making
- communities should be acknowledged for the good they do – instead of only focusing on area’s weaknesses
- community organisations need recognition for providing essential support that is being lost elsewhere
- those organisations cannot solve problems alone – in order for their work to succeed they need support and investment
Community projects from all three towns took part in a special showcase event held at a boxing gym in Port Talbot that has now been transformed into a community centre. Bulldogs Boxing & Community Activities now run employability, learning and health activities along with fitness and boxing.
Amplify Cymru has been working in the three localities, running workshops and coaching sessions with a variety of community and social enterprises, to help them improve what they do and think big about how they could adapt to increase impact. The programme is run by The Young Foundation who have similar projects in Northern Ireland and the north of England.
At the Port Talbot event the projects were given an opportunity to share their plans with potential funders from organisations including the Lloyds Bank Foundation, the Big Lottery Wales, Esmee Fairburn Foundation, Wales Cooperative Centre, UnLtd, Impact Ventures, CAF Venturesome, RBS and NatWest. Also attending were representatives from local and Welsh Government.
Glenys Thornton, Chief Executive, The Young Foundation said:
“The challenge to Welsh institutions and leaders, those with resources and influence, is to pool resources and to change what they do in order to facilitate and support action at the local level. We understand the level of challenge this presents to current ways of thinking. We also think it is an opportunity which cannot be missed if we want more equal, vibrant and healthy communities. Shifting the dial on inequality in Wales is a long-term goal for which the prize is potentially huge.”
Among the local projects showcased were a network of community gardens in Aberystwyth, a new local radio hub on Deeside, and a community focused film and music production company.
Jane Powell, Tyfu Aber-Grow Aber community garden network said:
“We got involved with Amplify Cymru because we believe in the importance of linking people to the places that they live. We began by trying to get more people in Aberystwyth to value the land around them and now we’ve linked up with food producers and retailers.”
The Young Foundation believes that all communities, whatever their challenges, are brimming with people full of ideas, motivation and potential. If this potential is recognised, celebrated and supported, in the form of new ideas, networks, collaborations and relationships between people and institutions, communities themselves can provide the answers to the question of how to build a fairer future.
The research gathered in Aberystwyth, Connah’s Quay and Port Talbot has been published in a storybook ‘More Than Meets The Eye’ – which can be read here.