Age Connects Morgannwg (ACM), the local older people’s charity, is working with Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council to transform St Mair’s Day Centre in Aberdare into a new community hub that will also include a Day Nursery and GP Practice. The proposal has been developed over the last 18 months, following Age Connects’ expression of interest through the council’s asset transfer programme, RCT Together.
We have received a £48,000 grant from the Big Lottery to develop plans to refurbish the building and create a community hub for the whole community but will retain specific equipment, activities and resources for older people.
The results of this development work will form a £1.1million bid to the Big Lottery to redevelop the centre. If the plans are feasible and the bid is successful, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council has agreed to transfer the building and site to ACM through the capital asset transfer process.
If our Big Lottery bid is successful, the hub will be renamed Cynon Linc. It will provide activities throughout the day and evening from arts and crafts, storytelling, reminiscing, music, education classes and gardening to concerts and films. It will have a sensory room that can be used with people suffering from dementia alongside a dementia café which will also support people carers. There will be a social enterprise bistro providing affordable, healthy meals and snacks for the whole community. There will be space for local groups to hire, alongside a hall which can be used for events, conferences and meetings. ACM will continue to deliver our successful nail-cutting clinic from the hub and will invite local therapists to also use the space for therapies such as massage, reflexology and beauty treatments.
Rachel Rowlands, CEO of Age Connect Morgannwg, says “When we asked the current users of St Mair’s what else they would like to see happen at the centre, we were really encouraged by the ideas we heard and that the majority of people wanted to see people of different ages in the centre. St Mair’s plays a really important part in the lives of the people who use it. They find friendship there, they can eat a meal with company and they get involved in groups and activities which keep their mind and body active. Our Cynon Linc proposal will retain the valued services that current users enjoy whilst introducing new, sustainable activities that the community have said they would welcome”
The introduction of the day-nursery and the GP Practice will mean that people of all ages from the whole community will get to know more about what the hub can offer and they can get involved in shaping what services, activities and products are available at the hub.
The building will also house Age Connects Morgannwg’s head office, so that the public can access our services, including Community Outreach, Befriending, and the Information and Advice team who offer general advice on issues affecting older people and specialist advice and casework for Welfare Benefit claim forms, reconsiderations and appeals, including support and representation at Tribunals.
Councillor Geraint Hopkins, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult and Children’s Community Services, said: “This project could completely transform St Mair’s Day Centre, by wholly expanding the offer and support for older people who use this important service.
“If Age Connect Morgannwg’s bid for substantial funding is successful, the Council would transfer the building and site through the capital asset transfer process – the RCT Together approach which has proved successful time and again. By working with communities and the voluntary sector, the Council can explore alternative delivery of services while securing their future.
“A decision on whether Big Lottery funding is granted for the proposal is expected during February 2018, and it could see work progress on Cynon Linc by late summer next year.
“The services currently offered at St Mair’s Day Centre are already valued and this proposal seeks to build upon this provision and deliver a much wider range of services which better reflect the needs and expectations of local residents.
“This is an incredibly ambitious proposal, the first of its kind in Wales, which could transform the provision offered from this location to the wider Cynon Valley.”