by Rachel Evans

I checked in last towards the end of November when you might remember reading that we were preparing to get some mental health support off the ground in Milford.

I’m pleased to report that this has come to pass……with input from Tracey of MIND, Lee from PAVS/Timebank, Lynne of a local Community Association and Sophie, Children & Families Community Connector, we now have Moodmaster up & running.

This is an emotional well-being programme that brings groups of people together to talk, share stories (if they want) and pick up tools to help them cope with the pressures they face in life. MIND makes Moodmaster available to communities but it is its own thing and is delivered by specially-trained practitioners.

We started on the 25th January and are looking forward to seeing how this develops every Friday over the next three months. There is a difficulty, though: we know that a number of young parents are interested in coming to the sessions, but sourcing childcare for their pre-schoolers at the venue is a real headache – understandably, there are lots of factors childcare providers and those supporting their work have to assess. However, local colleagues are working hard with us on possible solutions and we are staying positive.

Photo taken the last time the Rural Wisdom team met up in Wales

Also in January, it was a great pleasure to welcome to Pembrokeshire Anne, Chief Officer of Scottish organisation Outside The Box, lead partners in the Rural Wisdom project, and Donna of the Care & Wellbeing Co-Op, also in Scotland.

Read more from Anne about her inspiring trip here

They undertook an epic car journey down from Edinburgh and Perth to be with us at the County Archives in Haverfordwest for a day conference called Innovations in Care. This came about because Rachel, our Pembrokeshire Older People’s Strategy Co-ordinator, had had an opportunity to get acquainted with Anne and the Scottish Rural Wisdom project at our two project gatherings to date – she was really interested in how communities north of the border had come together to find care solutions in their own rural areas and wanted Pembrokeshire people to hear about it.

Rachel took the opportunity to ask other speakers to come, such as Digital Communities Wales and Care To Co-Operate so the learning and information-sharing that day was brilliant. And it turns out, we are not that far away from innovating similar practices ourselves in Pembrokeshire – hot off the press, Sue, Chief Officer of PAVS, was able to share the fact that a successful funding bid had secured money to do just that…. so the day ended on a real high.

Just yesterday, I had a nice bit of news: regular readers will know about What’s On, the events listing we have been producing for Milford for well over a year. Recently I applied to Milford Haven Port Authority for some money from their community fund and I am pleased to say that the panel has granted enough to keep it going for another 6 months. Thanks, MHPA!

Read our latest February What’s On

Rural Wisdom project funds were able to pick up the cost of producing What’s On initially but it was really important to find more support right from the get-go. It’s brilliant that during What’s On’s life, we have had help from the Town Council, the Town Regeneration Group, Christmas Together (Christmas Day dinner and activities for people on their own) and PACTO (Pembrokeshire Association of Community Transport Organisations).

Relationships are what make the world go round.

Lastly, I’ll just say a word or two about the benefits and joys of working with different organisations, both statutory and 3rd sector. This is the way I was encouraged to work within Volunteering Matters right from the start, as we keep our staff team lean and have always needed our colleagues in other organisations……. just as we hope to help them.

However, I think this spirit of sharing and co-operation is something that is alive and well in Pembrokeshire as a whole; I have wonderful dedicated colleagues throughout the council, voluntary sector and the community in Milford, who have a real will to act together and learn from each other and the Rural Wisdom project has given me scope to explore that.

And let’s face it, the more people you can work with and get to know, the more people there are to have a few laughs with in the week. Relationships are what make the world go round.