I’m Nina, Coordinator for the Listening Project which sits within the Bryncynon Strategy in the Cynon Valley. It’s a befriending project working with older people in our community who are vulnerable, lonely and isolated. We are tackling food and fuel poverty via delivery of weekly hot meals, food boxes, a community food table and fridge and advice surgeries, events and activities.
Volunteering is at the heart of our work, particularly using the skills and experience within our older community. We are based in the Feel Good Factory, a healthy living centre and with the help of Renew Wales, we were able to reduce our carbon footprint with a Climate Action Boost grant for boilers, lighting and cooker.
I have a degree in Ecology and Marine Biology, a career in sustainable development and I was previously a Coordinator for Renew Wales. I have brought my passion for community engagement and empowerment to the Bryncynon Strategy. Renew Wales, with its Coordinators and Mentors placed within communities, has a unique role in promoting grass roots action against climate change.
Why are you drawn to this area of work?
I have a good track record with Renew Wales, having been a Coordinator in Newport and the Eastern Valleys from 2012 to 2016. Projects included first line flood defence, practical workshops, surveys of community buildings, saving areas of important woodland and food security. I have a long career in countryside management, international development and working with some of the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised people. I’m passionate about fair trade and sustainable tourism, having been a been a sustainable tourism officer in Zimbabwe and a consultant in India and Nepal on environmental and community projects. In Zimbabwe, I worked with regional councils, tourism operators and communities to develop sustainable tourism projects. We held engagement events and projects were chosen and prioritised by consensus. We set up a homestay network and worked with women, schoolchildren and village elders who built their own hotel. They made their own bricks, cut grass and thatched the roof themselves. These projects improved the standard of living of the villages in an industry in which they had been previously marginalised. I first came to Wales to manage Ynys Hywel in the Sirhowy Valley and led the organisation to gaining the Wales Tourist Board’s first Green Tourism Award and an international Tourism for Tomorrow Award.
What is your vision of your region in 2050?
There will be a great understanding of how climate change affects everyone and people will take responsibility for their own actions at a grass roots, national and international level. Communities will learn from each other, sharing skills and experience and gaining confidence in what they can achieve. Innovative and imaginative projects will flourish and there will be a proliferation of community gardens, green spaces, allotments, community farms, food co-ops, safe cycling and walking routes. Food and fuel poverty will be a thing of the past and rural and urban communities will be successful in developing their own sustainable energy projects