Holywell is a market town in North East Wales in the county of Flintshire. The town is divided into four main areas as well as several smaller surrounding villages with a cumulative population of around 8,000 people. Our work focussed on the area of Holway during stage two of the Rural Wisdom project from 2019 – 2021.
How it all began
Following an information campaign of leaflet drops and posters in local businesses and community spaces like the library, our work in Holywell began with a launch event run alongside NDTi at the local leisure centre. This gave us the opportunity to speak directly to those in the local area to find out what was working well in their community and what they felt Rural Wisdom might help to improve.
It was clear that while lots of work was being done to improve the Holway area, there was very little being done to improve the lives of older people. Feedback from the community was that there was a lack of collaboration due to feelings of social isolation, so a large part of our work was focussed upon breaking down barriers about participation, providing opportunity for social connection and encouraging locals to make an active contribution to the improvement of the area and their own lives. We joined a community improvement panel that met once a month to share the learning of what we were doing in the community and explore ways of working together to make an even bigger impact.
A series of small coffee mornings was organised in the local community centre providing an opportunity for social interaction. We also partnered with groups such as Warmer Wales and the local Job Centre so that local people could have access to important information and services while attending the coffee mornings.
A large number of older people in the community had to shield during 2020 due to the risks of Covid19 so a large part of our work involved supporting those that were self-isolating at home. Even as restrictions were eased, many people remained apprehensive about venturing out into the community. Our volunteers were able to provide ongoing telephone befriending, deliver shopping and medication. We secured donations of PPE so that our volunteers were kept as safe as possibly while doing this necessary work.
Community garden at Holway Hub House
We were invited to have a presence in the Holway Hub House. The house is a converted property within the Holway that provides advice and support to community members from a wide range of local authority and third sector organisations. A presence in the house gave us a fantastic opportunity to engage directly with younger and older community members and build connections with other agencies. Following a successful grant application to Keep Wales Tidy, we supported The Friends of Holway with setting up a butterfly garden as well as a vegetable patch and fruit trees in the garden of the Hub house. This space provided a vital opportunity to bring the community together, growing, cooking and eating local produce, as well as being a beautiful outdoor space to spend time in.
What we achieved
In addition to these highlights, we also provided opportunity for life-long learning in the form of tablet courses at the local library. The project also organised pop-up cinemas and craft days as a means of improving the social network of those living in the area. All of these initiatives have provided vital means of connection to relieve some of the isolation felt by many in the community previously.
Shereen Devine is the Development Worker delivering Rural Wisdom in Leeswood, Flintshire. Get in touch with Shereen at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07469 851886 if you would like to find out more about our work in these areas or to get involved.