My name is Mair Jones and I am a Director/Project Manager of MaryDei, a community based, social enterprise business, based in Denbighshire. Its aim is to raise awareness of the rights and needs of family carers and to advocate for them. I set up the enterprise with my sister 7 years ago and we have worked tirelessly to secure the trust of the community in a way that is experience and peer led. This kind of community development approach is hard work and often slow in its obvious progress. We have had to earn the trust by going out to our community, involving, informing and entertaining them at times. We have succeeded to win this trust and we have also demonstrated that the MaryDei model, of grass roots, carer- led community work does work. Our active presence and reporting in mainstream and social media has led to our aims being positively shared. We have succeeded to reach ‘hidden’ carers, informing and advocating for them, and also involving them in our creative activities. The fact that we as Directors of MaryDei have ‘been there’ ourselves as full time carers, are bilingual and understand Denbighshire’s context and culture, appear to work in to building connections within our community and reaching the hidden carers. MaryDei decided to get involved in Renew as we understand the nature of our communities here in Denbighshire. We understand first-hand the challenges involved in sustaining a community based enterprise. We believe in the abilities of grass root groups to genuinely make a difference and create sustainable local solutions to the challenges of climate change.
Why are you drawn to this area of work and/or how have you helped community groups take their first steps to action in the past?
My experience is solidly within the social care field working for over 20 years with vulnerable children and families in need, mostly in Ynys Mon and Gwynedd. Although trained as a Statutory social worker, I have always been interested in supporting individuals, families and community groups to create their own solutions to their own specific needs. Even more so with young people and communities who are traditionally ‘seen’ as excluded from the mainstream.
I left front line social work in the early 1990’s and established my own advocacy and training consultancy, working with families and community groups. My years as a peace and justice activist when I lived in Gwynedd, meant that I crossed paths with many passionate environmentalists. I was able to attend various lectures and seminars at Bangor University which opened my eyes to the seriousness of the climate change challenges we face. I realised then, that enabling communities to come up with their own priorities and solutions was a crucial element in any overall solution and studied a Post Graduate course in Community Development in Bangor University.
My own future plans/activities became irrelevant in the mid 2000’s as my parents’ significant health needs meant that I needed to return home to Denbigh to care for them full time. This period was one the most personally challenging of my life as well as being the most fulfilling. I have channelled a great deal of what I experienced in this time, into developing our social enterprise business.
Denbighshire is brimming with citizen groups who want to make a difference. I am a new member of the Renew Team but am very excited to join its ranks of passionate environmental and community activists. I am looking forward to building on my community development skills and my recent experience with MaryDei, to enable community groups in Denbighshire to stimulate action on climate change at a community level.