Valleys to Coast (V2C) successfully won two awards at this year’s Welsh Housing Awards 2016. The awards are organised by Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru, to recognise and celebrate the creativity, passion and innovation of housing organisations and individuals across the breadth of the housing sector in Wales.
The first win of the night was the Collaboration Award, with the project; Bringing Emmaus to Wales.
This project focussed on partnership work involving V2C and Emmaus to develop the first Emmaus community in Wales, offering 24 rooms for companions to have a settled home following a period of homelessness. This vision resonated with V2C’s own vision of creating communities that people want to live in.
Tom Clarke, Director of Emmaus commented, ‘Nantlais offers companions the opportunity to learn to live independently within a supportive environment. Life skills, healthy eating and cooking, managing budgets are taught within the home.’ As one companion put it, ‘Emmaus gave me a bed and a reason to get up out of it’.
The second award received was the Empowering and Involving Communities Award which recognised the partnership work with the local community youth group; The Wildmill Youth Revival project.
During the summer of 2014, the announcement was made to close the local youth facility in Wildmill. This led to the community taking matters into their own hands. Debbie Bryn, a youth worker with Youth Works before it closed and others on the estate saw this as a real opportunity; they brought local people together in an action group to see that youth provision was not lost.
Debbie Bryn, Wildmill Youth volunteer commented; ‘The group were keen to work with V2C as we had worked closely with them in the past. We approached them to see how they could help us with our plan. Our commitment, ambition and drive to ensure young people have the best start became obvious and we were more than confident that the group would be able to achieve great things for the estate.’
The night was a huge success for V2C, who celebrated their win at The Vale Hotel on November the 18th. Thanks to the sponsors of the awards, United Living and Contract Services.
Valleys to Coast (V2C) staff have kick started their festivities by getting involved in a Christmas shoe box appeal for the local Foodbank.
Welcome items included chocolates, sweets, biscuits and treats, as well as other items such as puzzles, small toys and toothbrushes.
Jessica Lane, V2C’s works scheduler commented, “It’s brilliant to give something back to the community we work in, we know that Foodbanks are being used more now than ever before and we hope our treat boxes can be a real surprise for families over Christmas who usually go without. V2C is always looking at ways to support the community and helping those who need it.”
Bridgend Foodbank provides three days’ nutritionally balanced emergency food and support to local people who are referred to them in crisis.
If you would like to donate to Bridgend Foodbank then please visit their website: www.bridgend.foodbank.org.uk. Here you will find information on what food items are urgently needed and where you can drop your items off.
Sarah Hay tells us about improving a play space in her local community in Wildmill, Bridgend. Space Saviours is a two year project that is funded by the National Lottery and delivered by four housing associations, including Valleys to Coast Housing (V2C) in Bridgend. The Space Saviours project held events for local communities to identify ideas to improve local outdoor space and I attended one in 2014. I went along, as I knew there was quite a bit of space available in our community that could be developed for play. I was keen to create a safe play area in Wildmill and the Play Wales play workshop inspired me to put a project idea together.
My original idea was to remove an existing mound of earth, install a safe surface next to an existing park and add goals for the kids to play football. When I told my eldest son about the project, he got very upset and said, ‘You’re not going to take away our twmp, are you?’ I hadn’t realised how important the twmp was to him and his friends. I began to watch children use the space and started to see the value they placed on it. I told Play Wales about this and together, we undertook a play audit of the area and worked with a landscape architect to produce designs.
V2C liked the final design and found funds for improvements, including making the twmp more playable. Before work started, we held a consultation event in our community centre and displayed images of the design in our youth club. During the build, some local adults weren’t happy and some of my time was spent reassuring them that the mess created by the changes would benefit the community long term. The new play area opened in February 2016 with a Playday. At this event, people asked why there wasn’t a fence around the space to ‘keep the dogs out’. We explained that there wasn’t a need for a fence because it is a safe place for children already as there is no traffic and so many houses overlook the space.
We soon realised that dog mess was a real problem, though. With V2C, we decided to start a public information campaign. Local children designed posters to remind people to clean up after their dogs and V2C purchased and installed outdoor signs based on the children’s designs. We got chalk paint and with the children, volunteers and Keep Wales Tidy, we marked out all the dog mess and were amazed at how much of the grass was covered in this chalk. Local tenants, particularly dog owners, were shocked and disgusted at the mess our children were playing in.
The space is better utilised now and we have made clever use of the existing space. And I have a very happy son who gave the final design his seal of approval because we didn’t ruin his twmp!