Taking advantage of the busiest time of year in Blaenau Ffestiniog – the switching on of the Christmas lights proved a great way to engage the local community in the idea of creating Y Dref Werdd’ – ‘Green Town’.
Blaenau Ffestiniog is often referred to as “the town that roofed the world”. But it is fast becoming known for its green credentials, thanks to a group of committed people who have formed the ‘Y Dref Werdd’
Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund’s People and Places programme ‘Y Dref Werdd’ has received a grant of £323,211 to bring communities together to build on their strengths and to reduce waste. Gwydion ap Wynn, Project Manager, tells us what he loves about his job and shares his top tips on how rural communities can get a great idea off the ground.
Understanding the local need
“As there was no community group working to improve the local environment within the Bowydd and Rhiw ward, the Communities First team carried out the initial consultation on what the local community needed.
Consulting with the community to identify the need and the benefits of an idea is a key request in all National Lottery Community Fund applications and this been a big element of the ‘Dref Werdd’.
“We’ve been committed to ensuring that the local community have been involved in all stages of the project – from the initial application stage to the deliver.”
“People’s support was sought through a number of ways, including hosting a ‘green fair’ event in the town and through local newspapers, surveys and meetings. A newsletter was produced and sent to every household in the LL41 postcode area, open meetings and word of mouth was also used.”
“One of the most successful ways we consulted was when our board of directors conducted a survey during one of the busiest days of the year in Blaenau Ffestiniog, – the turning on of the Christmas lights. This proved to be very successful, gathering significant local support.
Benefits for the community
Today, the project has many widespread benefits for the communities involved including energy saving in the home and environmental benefits.
“The work with energy and food waste in homes benefits families by reducing the amount of energy or food they use and saving money for them money in the longer term.
“On the environmental side, we will be safeguarding all the local rivers in the area as well as begin the control of invasive species such as Rhododendron ponticum and Japanese knotweed, by carrying out this work, it will further develop respect to our local environment by local people, but also, play an important role in developing the area.”
Over three years the project will train 90 individuals in the outdoor sector by attending training in countryside skills and providing the opportunity of gaining employment in the outdoor sector – a growing industry in Blaenau Ffestiniog.
The development of green spaces within the community will also benefit local people by bringing a further sense of pride in their local spaces by having opportunities to volunteer their time and learn new skills.
But, it is the lasting legacy that the project will bring through working with children that really inspires Gwydion as he explains:
“A large part of Y Dref Werdd’s work is conducting educational sessions, out-of-school accredited courses and volunteering opportunities for young people. We believe that by spreading the message of behaviour change through children we will spread the message more widely through influencing the behaviours of adults too.”