I represent the ordinary person who is passionate about participating in their local community, for positive change. I have grown in experience, skills and knowledge, from the roots up – taught through valued connections with those around me and by just getting stuck in. I have founded a Woodcraft Folk group for local families to enjoy outdoor quality time, I have been an elected (Independent) community councillor and now devote all my time, as founder, to Grow For It: Community Gardening and Wellbeing for Llantrisant. Grow For It focuses on horticultural therapy, growing food and pollinators, waste reduction / upcycling and, at the heart of it all, simply bringing people together. I enjoy connecting with people from all walks of life and my strengths lie in identifying and drawing out their values and passions. As a keen networker, within the community growing and local third sector, I am able to recommend useful contacts and up to the minute tools and opportunities, to best utilise collective and individual values, for the good of the community and the project. I am passionate about motivating others through collaborative brainstorming, encouraging groups to think ‘out of the box’ and finding practical, doable ways to action their visions.
Tell us about one or more experience of your work with Renew. Who was the group and what did they want, what action plan did they have, how did you help them and what happened next.
I have a first-hand knowledge of the powerful combination of a caring community and time spent in nature, to support through adversity – my life was changed when I experienced such intervention, while living in Sweden. When I moved back to Wales, I committed to develop that same mutually supportive culture in my home country whilst continuing the work of my late father, in the prevention of alcohol and substance misuse problems. He campaigned about mental health issues being at the core of most addictions and community playing an important part in the prevention; my time spent with other community groups and growers, listening to volunteers’ experiences, attending workshops, researching and learning, has affirmed how true that is. We as communities have vast potential for making a difference at the root of our issues, where isolation and nature-deficit lies. This is why, when I connect with individuals or groups who are working to empower communities, I do what I can to help – be it suggestions / motivation / introductions / sharing my experience. It feels rewarding to see some groups go on to win awards of recognition and being used as positive case studies to inspire others.
What is your vision of your region in 2050? What will have changed and how will we have got there?
I’d like to see our Welsh government making more environmentally friendly decisions by 2050 – protecting natural spaces with tighter environmental planning, an energy grid run entirely on renewable energy and renewed landowner incentives leading to increased tree planting rates. I anticipate communities and the third sector taking more proactive roles in the protection of Wales’ environment and reduction of our carbon footprint. I see empowered, self-sufficient communities ~ more energy, housing & wellbeing co-operatives ~ more community land ownership, and a growing trend in community participation. Stronger, increasingly self-sustainable voluntary groups with more angel investors and crowdfunding and less government dependence. I hope to see our schools follow Scandinavian teaching principles with more outdoor learning resulting in a greater respect for the local environment and wildlife in our future generations.