Cynon Linc Background
Age Connects Morgannwg is working on a capital asset transfer of St Mair’s Day Centre in Aberdare. We hope to refurbish the building and create a community hub for the whole community but featuring specific equipment, activities and resources for older people. We are currently developing a second stage application for the Big Lottery, having been successful in a stage one application which gave us a £48,000 grant for development and feasibility. The second stage application will be submitted in September 2017. We are also making a second stage application to the Pen Y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund to support the project.
As an organisation we have been involved with St Mair’s Day Centre for many years; running activities from there and our social enterprise nail cutting clinic which is based there. We were concerned that the opening hours were being curtailed and less and less activities were being held at the centre. We approached Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council (RCTCBC) in November 2015 to discuss how Age Connects Morgannwg could become more active at the centre and this progressed into discussions of capital asset transfer, resulting in our stage one application to the Big Lottery’s Community Asset Transfer Fund (CAT2) in September 2016. RCTCBC has agreed to transfer the building and site through the capital asset transfer process to ACM.
We intend to refurbish the building, adding a few small extensions and give it a new identity as Cynon Linc, a Community Hub for the whole community in the Cynon Valley and featuring specific activities and resources for older people. There will be activities throughout the day and evening from arts and crafts, storytelling, reminiscing, music, education classes, gardening to concerts and films. We will have a sensory room that can be used with people suffering from dementia alongside a dementia café. 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. There will be a nail cutting clinic and a therapy room for hire. The building will also house Age Connects Morgannwg’s head office, so that the public can access our services, including our Community Outreach Service, our Befriending project, and our 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. We will have childcare provision for up to twenty children based at the site; this will also give opportunities for intergenerational projects. We are also in discussions about a potential GP practice located at the Centre.
We believe that the older people who currently use St Mair’s Day Centre want and deserve better community support services that improve their wellbeing, increase their independence and enhance their knowledge, skills and experience. The people we have spoken to throughout the community tell us that there is a need for accessible activities that people of all ages can use. Young people and their parents are concerned at the lack of afterschool activity and older people are crying out for a space where they can meet, socialise, learn and make new friends. We asked what types of activities people would like to see in a community facility for the Cynon Valley and their responses included a venue for art classes, community education, health and wellbeing ‘surgeries’, exercise classes such as Tai Chi and Yoga, a community information and advice centre. They also told us that they wanted somewhere that people with dementia and their carers could come together but where the carer could get some respite and support whilst the person with dementia could socialise, reminisce and enjoy the company of others. We talked to the Local Health Board about the benefits of integrating community health initiatives into our project and they felt this would encourage more people to take notice of public health programmes such as smoking cessation, alcohol and substance misuse programmes and sexual health for older people. At present, there isn’t an accessible venue that provides all of this but we believe that the existing site at St Mair’s Day Centre would allow us to deliver these activities in the heart of the Cynon Valley.
Our project directly contributes to the wellbeing of older people as set out in the Social Service and Wellbeing Act (Wales) and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) supporting mental health and emotional wellbeing. We will enable older people at risk of developing mental health problems to access peer support from other older people, participate in stimulating social and educational activities, and learn new resilience building and psychological coping strategies (through participating in a programme of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy based sessions). This is a combined approach to supporting an individual’s resilience and wellbeing.
The new Cynon Linc will offer opportunities for all ages in the Cynon Valley community, with specialist support and activities available to older people, including those suffering from dementia and their carers. The community will benefit from affordable, appropriate daily activities that run into the evening and nutritious affordable meals.