The connection between people’s space and place is lost as communities struggle to thrive and strive across the UK. Poverty and its realm continue to supress neighbourhoods into isolation as its extensive impact reaches into the heart of people’s livelihoods and home, filtering into the heart of family life.
Understanding the impact of poverty on people and communities was discussed at a recent event hosted by Bevan Foundation, Wales’ most innovative and influential thinktank. Understanding poverty, held at Wrexham’s Glyndwr University, explored the definition, causes and types of poverty and how local, regional and national policies are attempting to reduce and irradicate poverty.
It was refreshing to see that the fantastic work being undertaken by Holyhead’s Local Conversation Project, in strengthening community voices and encouraging active participation in community activities, was seen as a mechanism in contributing to reducing poverty in communities. Active participation and community action on local matters builds individual voices through collective partnership, in turn building confidence. It is this mechanism of cohesion that supports and encourages people to take greater control of local issues that is a contributing factor in alleviating poverty.
Holyhead’s Local Conversation is funded by People’s Health Trust, using money raised by Health Diverse through The Health Lottery. The Local Conversation Programme is a flexible, resident led funding model driven by what local people want. Through the programme, residents are supported to identify and take action on issues that are important to them in their community.
March saw Holyhead's Local Conversation continue to grow and reach more and more people. Local people directly and indirectly involved with their conversation came together to talk about what matters to them in their community. Issues became ideas with suggestions turning into collective action, the group eager to work closely together to act on issues affecting their community.
At the meeting was Frank and Sandra Lingwood, Yazmin, Connor Jones, Dan Roberts, Steph Pritchard (Youth Pod Manager) and Dan Millington (Local Conversation Officer). Discussion centred around the topics of Holyhead and what people thought about their town. Also present was Joanna Hicks from UCLan who was there to give the group direction, support and share expertise.
Keen to keep the conversation in Holyhead progressing, it was decided that the group will meet fortnightly/monthly whilst everyone gets to know one another. The next meeting is scheduled to take place in April where the group will be discussing the roles within a steering group, local matters that have arisen and engaging with the local community.
Nothing was going to get in the way of the St David’s Day celebrations in Holyhead, not even Storm Emma! The festivities were postponed to Thursday 8th March due to the anticipated weather conditions which left a trail of destruction on Holyhead, not least Holyhead Marina.
Hundreds of local people lined the streets along the parade route singing and chanting, celebrating welsh history and culture. Holyhead highstreet was decorated with flags and bunting, the towns businesses keen to show their support.
The parade left St Mary’s church at 9:30am slowly making its way up to Newry Green. The sun shone brightly adding to the spirit of the occasion. Along the way, hundreds of school children from local primary and secondary schools and vast numbers of people from community groups sang Calon lan and dwi’n Gymro neu Gymraes chanting Ogee Ogee Ogee, OI OI OI!! The parade stopped on its meandering journey at St Cybi’s to take a moment of reflection for our patron Saint, St David. St Cybi was the cousin of St David.
Awaiting on Newry Green was Y Ddraig Goch, spanning half a football pitch! The flag, which is by far the biggest flag on Anglesey if not North Wales, took centre stage with crowds gathering around singing Land of My Father and waving handmade flags.
The parade was made possible thanks to close partnerships of community groups, schools, organisations and local people in Holyhead, but in particular Menter Iaith Mon and Mon CF’s Local Conversation project funded through People’s health Trust.
On Thursday 1st March, Mon CF’s Local Conversation Community Chest Grant will launch its third round of funding targeting community groups and organisations benefitting local people in Holyhead. The grant, of up to £1,000, provides accessible financial support that many community groups so desperately need to survive, thrive and empower local people to be active in their community.
At a pre-launch event last week, past applicants were invited to share their stories with local community groups that are interested in applying. Their inspiring journeys have been made possible with the support from the grant.
To date, Mon CF’s Community Chest Grant, funded through People’s Health Trust’s Local Conversation programme, has awarded £9,590 to local organisations and community groups. Thousands of local people throughout Holyhead have benefited from the grant and are now taking their Local Conversation further - giving a voice to more and more local people.
Dan Millington, Mon CF's Local Conversation Officer, said that it is great to see a community so empowered and involved throughout the grant process….at the end of the day, it is the community applying so they should have the decision.
St Cybi’s has long been a problem area attracting alcohol and drug abuse, dog fouling, rough sleeping and fly tipping to name but a few.
Recent media attention shone a spotlight on local issues, prompting strong community support in tackling them head on. It was clear that local people felt empowered to make a difference to their physical environment through social activity.
A Community Clean-Up of St Cybi’s was organised and hosted by Mon CF through their Local Conversation volunteers. It was an event organised by the community from an issue identified by local people. Local Residents came out in force to litter pick, trim hedges, edge grass boundaries and generally make the place a little tidier.
Dan Millington, Local Conversations Officer at Mon CF described the event as powerful, saying that it showcased the immense CAN DO – WILL DO attitude displayed by Holyhead residents in tackling issues head-on. One local resident said that she felt unsafe walking through the lower church yard in daylight let alone at night – empowering her to leave the house and lend a helping hand at the event.
Holyhead’s Local Conversation is funded by People’s Health Trust, using money raised by Health Diverse through The Health Lottery. The Local Conversation Programme is a flexible, resident led funding model driven by what local people want. Through the programme, residents are supported to identify and take action on issues that are important to them.