Leeswood and Pontblyddyn
Leeswood and Pontblyddyn are two small rural villages in Flintshire nestled between Wrexham, the largest town in North Wales, and the smaller market town of Mold. This was one of the areas that featured in stage one of the Rural Wisdom project from 2017 to 2019. So much was achieved during the first two years that additional funding was secured from the County Council to extend the project to October 2020.
How it all began
Working closely with local councillors and other support providers, our work in Leeswood and Pontblyddyn began with detailed conversations with those in the community in order to establish what was working well in the area and what could be improved with support from Rural Wisdom. We attended community meetings, visited every local community group, spoke with people at the local carnival and sent out questionnaires.
It was clear that the community wanted more social gatherings and intergenerational activities that would lead to an improved sense of cohesion across the community. It was felt that the only time groups came together was for fundraising and locals wanted an opportunity to come together without a financial imperative.
Thanks to support from local people, a disused space in the local community centre was transformed into a community café. Pizza and cake were exchanged for time and effort, and the entire community got involved redecorating and converting the space. The café is run completely by volunteers and has been a huge success. The café has been open one morning a week from 9am until 12noon for almost three years and is incredibly popular. The space is used by any and all members of the community, including many regulars, and provides a safe space for people of all ages to spend time together over a cuppa.
Lunch and Learn
Once a month, older people in the community have lunch at the local primary school as a means of developing intergenerational ties in the area and providing a much-needed opportunity for social interaction. Working with the school liaison officer we secured funding for 28 locals to attend a two-course lunch followed by tea, coffee and biscuits. The school children set the table, greet the guests and wait the tables, as well as give artwork or a card for each of the attendees to take home. Through this initiative the children grew pumpkins and were taught to make soup with them when harvested which then appeared on the lunch menu for their visitors.
Upon receiving grant funding of £150 from Age Cymru, the community decided to host a traditional Sunday carvery expecting around 30 people. What began as a small event for 30 quickly grew and 100 locals attended the event which still ran to budget. The community centre donated the space, locals donated raffle prizes, a local chef did all the cooking, a local woman made cakes for everyone and a local band played for free so that this could become a real community event.
What we achieved
In addition to providing practical opportunities for people to come together, the project gave an economic boost to the area. All of the funds raised through these initiatives and others such as pop-up cinemas and afternoon teas is continually reinvested back into the community in ways that are chosen and delivered by local people. So far, the project has funded tablet courses for local people, paid for a drama practitioner to deliver dementia awareness work in the local school and donated much needed funds to the community centre which received no income during the Covid 19 lockdown of summer 2020.