Welsh language initiatives going from strength to strength whilst promoting the Welsh language

Mentrau Iaith Cymru creates opportunities for everyone to use Welsh in their everyday lives and in their local communities. The first Menter Iaith (Welsh language initiative) was established in the Gwendraeth Valley in 1991, and today, there are 22 initiatives serving across Wales.

Four of these Mentrau Iaith received a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past few months for a range of projects – Menter Caerdydd, Menter Iaith Bro Morgannwg, Menter Iaith Rhondda Cynon Taf and Menter Cwm Gwendraeth Elli. The money contributes to a variety of activities promoting the Welsh language across south Wales – from community concerts to fitness classes, and online workshops to two popular Welsh festivals for the whole community.

We spoke with the Mentrau to hear more about the grassroots projects promoting the Welsh language.

A variety of activities for all ages

Menter Caerdydd and Menter Iaith Bro Morgannwg have been busy organising a variety of sessions for adults in the capital and the surrounding areas – fitness classes, history courses, concerts and walking tours, to name a few. The sessions will be held over a period of three years, in collaboration with organisations and charities like Re-engage Wales, Small Woods Wales, The National Botanic Garden of Wales and Learn Welsh Cardiff.

The ‘In Tune’ concerts in Rhiwbina are part of this project, held in partnership with Live Music Now, with artists like Jessica Robinson and Rhiannon Pritchard taking part. The concerts are free and aimed at retired people, some of whom live with dementia like Nia’s father:

“These sessions have been a blessing for Mum and Dad. There aren’t many things that Dad can enjoy now but he really looked forward to the Monday morning concerts and he was in a great mood afterwards! They were great for Mum to have a chance to chat too.”

Jessica Robinson and Rhiannon Pritchard at a concert in Rhiwbina with Rachel Matthews, Development Officer for Menter Caerdydd and Menter Iaith Bro Morgannwg

The Chief Executive of Menter Caerdydd and Menter Iaith Bro Morgannwg, Heulyn Rees, told us The National Lottery Community Fund grant had allowed them to provide opportunities for adults to socialise, learn and develop new skills in Welsh.

“The hope is to create community spirit and bring people together whatever their age,” he said. “We are so grateful for the grant which creates a solid framework for us to continue to develop and create new opportunities over the next few years.”

A boost for Welsh community festivals

Menter Caerdydd are also busy preparing for the popular Tafwyl festival, which will be held at Cardiff Castle this year on the weekend of 18-19 June. They successfully applied for a grant to fund a Wellbeing Area at the festival. This area will provide a quiet space and activities for children and people who want a moment to themselves in the middle of the hustle and bustle.

Menter Iaith Bro Morgannwg is developing the community elements and activities for children at Gŵyl Fach y Fro with their grant. This is a Welsh Festival for the whole community that will be held on Barry Island on 21 May. Popular acts like Huw Chiswell, Bwncath and Lili Beau will be performing at the festival this year.

Developing Welsh workshops for Rhondda Cynon Taf residents

In the meantime, Menter Iaith Rhondda Cynon Taf is developing their ‘Medrau’ project, Welsh language workshops suitable for all ages. The workshops give community members the opportunity to share and learn new skills digitally and in person.

Marged Elin Thomas, Development Officer at Menter Iaith Rhondda Cynon Taf, is looking forward to developing the project further with their grant: “This project started digitally in response to the pandemic. The money will enable us to bring people together once again, to learn from each other in person.”

The Medrau project in action in Rhondda Cynon Taf

Support and help for the people of the Gwendraeth Valley

Menter Cwm Gwendraeth Elli will be establishing a volunteer helpline service with their grant. The service will support members of this community in Carmarthenshire who suffer from loneliness and isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The initiative will also keep a bank of information about support services in the area which will be accessible to local residents.

Funding sessions to support Mentrau Iaith and the Welsh language

Funding sessions were organised by the Fund for Mentrau Iaith Cymru last summer. Over 30 people joined us to learn more about our grants and how we can help communities to thrive, and the feedback was very positive:

Menter Iaith Fflint a Wrecsam: “The session was beneficial, and we’ll make use of what we learned.”

Menter Bro Dinefwr: “The advice from the session was very helpful for us to make an application.”

Menter Sir Ddinbych: “The sessions were great, and they’ll be helpful whilst developing applications.”

Awel Jones, Welsh Language Officer at The National Lottery Community Fund: “We know how valuable the work of Mentrau Iaith is across Wales promoting the Welsh Language in our communities and we are very proud to be able to support them with the variety of activities underway.

“The initiatives also support health and wellbeing by bringing people together socially throughout the year, which is so important after the last two years. If you are interested in organising funding sessions for your organisation or charity, get in touch at wales.communications@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk.”

National Lottery players raise £30 million a week for good causes across the UK. Learn more about National Lottery funding in Wales.  

   


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