Anna Stickland is our Project Officer for our Connecting People and Nature (CPAN) programme run by Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales). She runs community activities in the rural wards of Merthyr Tydfil – Bedlinog, Vaynor, Bryngoleu and Gellideg. In this blog she tells us about a recent visit from their local Welsh Assembly Member, Dawn Bowden.
Following an exciting Easter packed full of wildlife activities for the community on all our sites, our attentions have returned to our weekly sessions at Gellideg Fields. Every Wednesday we aim to do a mix of conservation work, crafts, green wood work, cooking and foraging, amongst other woodland activities.
We welcome local people to get involved regularly, embracing the unique outdoor spaces we have here and learning to feel confident using their site. Those who choose to can develop their interests and skills with opportunities to complete OCN accredited training.
Dawn Bowden AM Visit
At the end of April 2019 Dawn Bowden AM, the Welsh Assembly Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, came to join on of our outdoor sessions in Gelledig. Despite the threat of rain, we made good progress tidying up the site and improving the fire pit by building some basic seating around it, in preparation for the following weeks.
Dawn was impressed by the diversity of the site with its open areas, mix of trees, and the stream and gorge running through it. She also saw the benefit of our work improving people’s health and wellbeing through outdoor activities. We talked about social prescribing and the need for our health service to promote good health, as well as fixing poor health.
Dawn Bowden AM, for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney said: “I am pleased to have the chance to join Anna, and her Gellideg fields and woodlands work, as part of Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales), Actif Woods Wales programme. Good for wellbeing, companionship and our environment. New skills, community pride and fun for all ages.”
The programme offers so many benefits to those who come:
Debbie Cobbett, a participant in Gelledig says: “Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales) has gifted me a whole three hours of enforced relaxation [today]. Amidst great company we nestle around the fire on a log with a purpose at hand to focus and still our minds. It’s proven to be a highlight of my week, I’ve learnt so many new skills, gained an OCN and made new friends. Thank you Anna, Richard, Carys and All for the all the brilliant engaging activities always something different and always accompanied by a welcome cuppa!!”.
Outdoor Community Activities
Connecting People and Nature (CPAN) is run in partnership with the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, with the following programme:
- Gellideg Fields – every Wednesday from 10am to 1pm – for 12 weeks (from 17 April). With outdoor activities over half term, including:
- A bat survey and moth trapping session – at Gelledig Fields on a friday evening.
- Future activities include:
- OCN accredited Species ID course – currently running at Parc Taff Bargoed
- Summer half term activities – at all four sites, Bedlinog, Vaynor, Bryngoleu and Gellideg
- Taff Fechan outdoor activity programme – begins in Autumn 2019
Previous outdoor programmes run at Nant Llwynog in Bedlinog and Bryngoleu in Aberfan have been similar to those currently running at Gellideg. These have opened up opportunities for previous attendees to go on to volunteer with us and continue to run outdoor activity sessions.
Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales) also runs the Actif Woods Wales programme in Merthyr Tydfil, with sessions every Tuesday (craft based) and Friday (walking/exercise) in Cyfartha Park. If you would like to get involved or attend any of our sessions in Merthyr Tydfil, please do get in touch. www.coedlleol.org.uk/actif-woods-groups/merthyr-tydfil