Extra care housing scheme residents adjusting to COVID-19 measures Thursday 7 May 2020

“The staff are amazing here – they always have a smile on their face, nothing is too much trouble for them and they connect with our families digitally for us to see them! This technology is great!”


Y Shed has been given a welcome boost from The National Lottery Community Fund Wednesday 22 April 2020

A COMMUNITY project hit by the Coronavirus pandemic has been given a welcome boost from The National Lottery Community Fund.


Gorwel reassures victims of domestic abuse that support is there during COVID-19 Thursday 16 April 2020

Victims of domestic abuse in Gwynedd and Anglesey are being reassured that support services are still available during the Covid-19 restrictions.


Grŵp Cynefin is with you through this crisis Friday 3 April 2020

We recognise this is an uncertain time for you in Wales. Covid-19 is rapidly changing the world around us, and is having a profound impact on people’s jobs, communities and lives. Grŵp Cynefin supports over 4000 tenants across north Wales.


Tenants Letter & FAQs Friday 20 March 2020

We have written to our tenants about what we are doing and have also included a frequently asked questions document which explains in more detail how our services will be affected.


Grŵp Cynefin office closure during Coronavirus outbreak Wednesday 18 March 2020

As the situation changes rapidly across the communities we serve, we have decided that we need to close our offices to the public, to make sure we keep residents, customers and staff safe.


Coronavirus Update 17.03.2020 Tuesday 17 March 2020

We’d like to reassure you that we are taking extra measures to ensure our tenants, service users and staff’s health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic.


Coronavirus Update 12.03.2020 Friday 13 March 2020

Due to concerns about the Coronavirus, we have reviewed our procedures at extra care and sheltered housing schemes. This includes cancelling any events that are open to the public at these sites for the next month.


Grŵp Cynefin secures prestigious workplace accreditation Thursday 12 March 2020

Grŵp Cynefin's investment in staff training and development is boosting service to its tenants.


Singing is good for the intergenerational choir’s sole as Rhys Meirion films at Awel y Coleg Friday 6 March 2020

Singing is good for the soul, and the nationally acclaimed Welsh singer, Rhys Meirion, says the power of singing in a choir can even have healing power.


Tenants move into innovative modular homes Thursday 5 March 2020

Two tenants have moved to two new Grŵp Cynefin homes built off-site, as modular units, and erected at Maes Glyndwr, Cynwyd in Denbighshire.


Information on Coronavirus Thursday 5 March 2020

Public Health Wales is working closely with the Welsh Government and the other UK public health agencies to carefully monitor the situation in China and implement a planned response, with measures in place to protect the health of the public.


POSTPONED - Awel y Dyffryn Open Day Thursday 27 February 2020

People seeking to secure accommodation in a new multi-million pound extra care scheme in Denbigh are being invited to an open day.


Storm Dennis Friday 14 February 2020

Please be careful this weekend with Storm Dennis now upgraded to an Amber warning in some areas of north Wales.


Storm Ciara Sunday 9 February 2020

We are receiving a high number of calls regarding damage to properties as a result of Storm Ciara.


Happy birthday to Hafod y Gest Friday 7 February 2020

There are celebrations at Hafod y Gest, Grŵp Cynefin's extra care housing scheme in Porthmadog this week, marking a full year since its opening.


Tenants urged to be mindful of the importance of keeping property appointments Friday 17 January 2020

Grŵp Cynefin has issued a reminder to tenants to ensure they honour maintenance appointments at their properties.


Grŵp Cynefin takes pride in a local community enterprise, Siop Griffiths Thursday 9 January 2020

Just nine months since opening its doors, Grŵp Cynefin is proud of the confidence and initiative of the community at Penygroes, Dyffryn Nantlle, as Siop Griffiths, a community venture on the high street goes from strength to strength.


Jade showcases independence at Cymorth Cymru awards Thursday 9 January 2020

A woman who helped lead Wales to a third-place finish at an international football event has taken home a personal honour.


Candle Safety Advice Friday 6 December 2019

Candles in the home are now getting a more and more popular way to add relaxation to our homes, which has seen a large increase in the number of candle related incidents.


Grŵp Cynefin announces four new additions to its board Friday 6 December 2019

Grŵp Cynefin, has appointed Geraint George, Jane Lewis, Mike Corfield and Tony Jones to its 10-strong management board which is responsible for all aspects of the association’s activities and directs the affairs of the association in accordance with its objectives and rules.


Are more affordable homes needed on Anglesey? Thursday 28 November 2019

Are more affordable homes needed on Anglesey? That is the question Rural Housing Enabler, Dylan Owen is asking an Anglesey community as he begins the task of assessing local people’s housing needs.


Plan now to avoid Christmas rent stress Thursday 14 November 2019

The festive period can be a busy and expensive time for many of us, with people preparing early to ensure they have enough money to pay for the presents and parties.


Grŵp Cynefin strengthens its housing team Thursday 7 November 2019

Grŵp Cynefin who is responsible for 4000 properties across North Wales is strengthening its team of staff by appointing four new officers within the Housing Department.


“I don’t think I’d be in work now if it wasn’t for Grŵp Cynefin” Thursday 24 October 2019

Tenants and their families have heralded the impact of Grŵp Cynefin’s grants supporting them to get back into work.


Youth Shedz grant funding supports homelessness and film making projects Thursday 24 October 2019

An award winning Denbighshire youth project has been awarded nearly £3000 grant funding to support a homeless project and to develop their film making skills.


Building dubbed ‘Historical Footnote’ starts new chapter Friday 18 October 2019

A derelict old railway shed destined to be consigned to history has opened its doors after a £1.2 million revamp.


Intergenerational work expands to Llanaelhaearn and Y Ffôr near Pwllheli Thursday 19 September 2019

Five organisations are celebrating after receiving financial support to set up intergenerational projects thanks to Grŵp Cynefin. The housing association is keen to improve wellbeing and reduce loneliness in the lives of the elderly living in rural communities.


Construction of landmark extra care housing scheme boosts local jobs and training opportunities Friday 13 September 2019

More than 90 per cent of the investment into a landmark extra care housing scheme is being spent with subcontractors and major suppliers in Wales.


Cuckooing is happening in North Wales Wednesday 28 August 2019

You may have heard a lot about this in the news lately. Cuckooing is happening in North Wales. For those of you who have never heard of ‘cuckooing, it is a crime where a drug dealer befriends a vulnerable person then takes over their home and uses it as a drug dealing house. Just like a cuckoo, the dealer moves in, takes over the property and turns it into a drugs den.


Winning poet awarded Grŵp Cynefin’s crown Thursday 8 August 2019

It was announced from the 2019 Conwy County National Eisteddfod stage that Grŵp Cynefin's crown, will move to a new home, as winning bard, Guto Dafydd of Pwllheli stood to receive the award.


A special thank you to Grŵp Cynefin for supporting tenants in need Monday 5 August 2019

“Grŵp Cynefin's welfare service has been a great support to me financially, and I can't thank them enough for their assistance. I am very grateful for all the help we’ve received.”


Grŵp Cynefin hopes for crowning glory at Conwy! Monday 29 July 2019

Grŵp Cynefin’s stand at the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst at the begining of August will offer visitors a warm welcome. No doubt the highlight of the week will be whether or not a winning poet receives Grŵp Cynefin’s prestigious crown commissioned and sponsored by the housing association in 2019.


Chloe and Jade set to represent Wales at Homeless World Cup Thursday 25 July 2019

Two women who will represent Wales at the Homeless World Cup have been speaking about their joy of being selected for the national team – and how they hope the platform will help people in need.


Grŵp Cynefin calls on working tenants to access new qualifications Friday 12 July 2019

Grŵp Cynefin is calling on working tenants keen to gain new qualifications in order to develop their careers, to get in touch.


Grŵp Cynefin and its tenants secure double awards success Friday 5 July 2019

Grŵp Cynefin scooped two prestigious industry awards, strengthening its credentials for offering ‘More Than Housing’.


Families settle in at Bron Gwynedd, Bethel Wednesday 3 July 2019

Four families have proudly settled into their new Grŵp Cynefin homes in Bethel, near Caernarfon, Gwynedd over the last few weeks.


Best job ever - working with older tenants at Grŵp Cynefin Tuesday 2 July 2019

Highlight of Grŵp Cynefin's Older People's Day 2019


Reduce the risk of fires – and get a FREE Home Fire Safety Check Tuesday 25 June 2019

The advent of smoke alarms, fire safety doors and, in some properties, sprinklers are all helping to reduce the risk of fire in our homes.


Grŵp Cynefin unveil and present this year’s Crown to the National Eisteddfod Friday 14 June 2019

“It is an honour to present the Crown for Conwy County’s National to the festival’s Executive Committee, at a special ceremony in Oriel Ffin y Parc, Llanrwst (13 June 2019),” said Dafydd Lewis, Grŵp Cynefin’s Board of Management Chairman.


Gwynedd extra care facility having a positive impact on residents Thursday 13 June 2019

Guests at the official opening of a housing association’s £7.8m extra care facility in Porthmadog heard about its positive impact on the lives of residents.


Sisters are doing it for themselves Wednesday 29 May 2019

Female entrepreneurs are leading the pack as part of a new £1.2 million development set to open its doors this summer.


Youth Shedz scheme scoops UK housing industry award Thursday 2 May 2019

A scheme set up to support formerly homeless young people in north Wales has scooped a prestigious UK housing industry award.


Would-be tenants invited to sign up at open day for extra care housing in Denbigh Monday 29 April 2019

A call has gone out across Denbighshire for eligible residents to register their interest in moving into a £12m landmark extra care housing scheme now under construction.


Celebrate and share good practice in intergenerational work Tuesday 2 April 2019

Grŵp Cynefin's pioneering work in partnership with a number of other organisations will be the subject of a special conference - Connecting the Generations - Celebrating and Learning in Bangor in April.


Grŵp Cynefin volunteers scoop two prestigious community awards Monday 18 March 2019

The mayor of Denbigh, Councillor Catherine Jones, and Denbigh Youth Shedz, a group supporting formerly homeless young people, have both won a High Sheriff of Clwyd Award.


Y Shed café tender is now open to applicants Thursday 7 March 2019

The café tender is now open to applicants and artists, photographers, craft makers, and food producers are also being offered the chance to showcase their wares at Y Shed, Meliden.


Gwynedd older people new development brings economic benefits Thursday 21 February 2019

A major new building project for older people in Gwynedd has given 12 north Wales apprentices valuable experience of the building industry, with 92% of the workforce also living in the region.


Four new Rhewl homes to go on affordable housing register Friday 15 February 2019

House hunters are being urged to register for the chance to purchase or rent a newly built affordable home in the Vale of Clwyd.


Nearly £12,000 has been shared between 54 north Wales community groups and organisations Monday 11 February 2019

Grŵp Cynefin is delighted to announce that nearly £12,000 has been shared between 54 north Wales community groups and organisations to fund a variety of different projects and activities during 2018-2019.


Construction starts on Grŵp Cynefin’s innovative homes Wednesday 6 February 2019

Grŵp Cynefin is saving time and money on its latest development thanks to an innovative construction method.


Opportunity for budding artisans to demonstrate their talents as part of a new £1.2 million project Tuesday 22 January 2019

A rundown former railway building on the walkway at Meliden, Prestatyn, is undergoing a revamp, transforming it into a community hub with a café, heritage, bike hire facility, and business units.


Tai Teg promotes 10 new homes in Anglesey Tuesday 1 January 2019

Six months since the launch of a new joint project, Tai Teg, in north Wales to facilitate local people's chances of securing their ideal homes, 10 new homes are about to be completed at Llanddeusant, Anglesey.


Support service, Gorwel, wins big at major housing and homelessness awards Wednesday 19 December 2018

A community group set up to support formerly homeless young people in Denbigh has scooped a major housing related support award.


My Housing Journey By Clifton Robinson, board member, Grŵp Cynefin Sunday 16 December 2018

In my near 40-year career, I’ve been a trainer, mentor, a probation board chair, a director of housing, a chief executive, and a board member of two different housing associations.


Housing Associations collaborate to support the North Wales Growth Deal Tuesday 4 December 2018

A group of six local housing associations have come together in an exciting joint venture to accelerate development of new affordable homes in support of delivery of the North Wales Growth Deal.


New community garden launched to help protect older people’s wellbeing Tuesday 27 November 2018

Older people in Anglesey are picking up trowels and forks to fight loneliness at a newly opened community garden.


A new savings scheme which gives up to a £1,200 bonus to people on low incomes has been launched Wednesday 7 November 2018

The Government's Help to Save initiative, which is available to working people on tax credits and universal credit, rewards savers with an extra 50p for every £1 saved.


Homes to feature on contemporary jeweller’s 2019 Conwy county Eisteddfod Crown design Tuesday 6 November 2018

A north Wales contemporary jeweller has received approval by the Gorsedd of the Bards Board for her 2019 Crown design for Conwy county’s event next year.


Housing Association Performance Comparison Tool Thursday 1 November 2018

Grŵp Cynefin is a registered social landlord registered in Wales, or often called 'Housing Association'. The Welsh Government has recently reviewed the regulatory arrangements and has created a tool to enable tenants, service users, stakeholders and partners to access performance data.


400 new homes on cards thanks to Grŵp Cynefin’s ambitious growth strategy Wednesday 31 October 2018

Grŵp Cynefin’s, North Wales’ only pan-regional housing association has unveiled an ambitious growth strategy that will see it deliver more than 400 additional new homes by 2021.


Regulatory Judgement 2018 Wednesday 31 October 2018

Grŵp Cynefin is a Registered Social Landlord, and this means that we are regulated by the Welsh Government Regulatory Team.


People are being asked to turn detective and help shed light on a village’s history Friday 26 October 2018

A rundown former railway building on the walkway at Meliden, Prestatyn, is undergoing a £1.2 million revamp, transforming it into a community hub with a café, heritage, bike hire facility, and business start-up units.


A brand new specially built bungalow makes life more comfortable for disabled tenant Thursday 18 October 2018

A brand new specially built Flintshire bungalow will make life much more comfortable for a disabled tenant and her live-in carers, thanks to Grŵp Cynefin.


Intergenerational work shortlisted for national award Monday 8 October 2018

Grŵp Cynefin’s work bringing together old and young people through the arts has been shortlisted for a prestigious industry award.


Grŵp Cynefin appoints experienced strategic leads as non-executive directors Monday 1 October 2018

Grŵp Cynefin, a leading housing association for north and mid Wales, which manages approximately 4,800 homes, has appointed two non-executive directors to support its growth and development delivering social housing and community schemes.


Horses helping north Wales domestic abuse survivors recover Tuesday 11 September 2018

Victims of domestic abuse in Anglesey and Gwynedd are regaining their confidence and receiving support on the road to recovery thanks to an innovative scheme involving horses.


Grŵp Cynefin development gives back to Rhyl community Thursday 9 August 2018

A housing development in Rhyl has helped two charities in the town as well as provided additional training opportunities for apprentices following the launch of a new initiative.


Contemporary jeweller chosen as 2019 Eisteddfod Crown designer Thursday 2 August 2018

A jeweller from North Wales has been chosen as the designer who will create the Crown for next year’s National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst.


Fledgling businesses and start-ups are being given the opportunity to get on the right track Thursday 19 July 2018

A rundown former railway building on the walkway at Meliden, Prestatyn, is undergoing a £1.2 million revamp, transforming the empty building into a hub with a shop, café, heritage, bike hire facility, and business units.


Grŵp Cynefin scoops a prestigious award for tackling loneliness in the elderly Tuesday 10 July 2018

Grŵp Cynefin has won a prestigious award recently, in a competition which was open to all social housing providers across Wales, for its pioneering work to tackle loneliness in elderly people.


A slice of Victorian history discovered within a rundown railway shed Wednesday 4 July 2018

Builders working on the former Meliden goods shed on the Prestatyn to Dyserth walkway got more than they bargained for when they began taking up the old floor. Hidden underneath were perfectly preserved old glass drinking bottles.


Grŵp Cynefin’s Pen Llŷn enterprise centre goes from strength to strength Tuesday 3 July 2018

Two new companies will soon move into Grŵp Cynefin’s successful enterprise centre, in Pen Llŷn during the next few weeks.


Housing association shortlisted at national social housing awards Monday 25 June 2018

A North Wales housing association is celebrating a record number of nominations at a prestigious industry awards.


Grŵp Cynefin takes lead by specifying Welsh timber for Welsh homes Thursday 21 June 2018

Grŵp Cynefin housing association is showing leadership in the development of local supply chains by specifying indigenous timber for a new housing development.


Pioneering Caring Dads programme that prevents children going into care set to launch Wednesday 13 June 2018

A pioneering voluntary scheme that helps fathers re-build positive relationships with their children who are affected by domestic abuse is expanding into Conwy and Denbighshire.


Fresh new scheme takes holistic approach to help people with complex multiple support needs Tuesday 12 June 2018

People with multiple support needs due to issues such as hoarding, substance misuse, a background of offending, low-level learning disability or may have mental health needs, can now benefit from an innovative ‘floating’ housing related support service.


Design ideas sought for 2019 Conwy County National Eisteddfod crown Wednesday 30 May 2018

North Wales and north Powys housing association, Grŵp Cynefin, is looking for a designer to create the 2019 Conwy County National Eisteddfod crown.


Holyhead homes almost ready for local families to move into Wednesday 23 May 2018

Grŵp Cynefin’s new chief executive has returned to a completed development she was instrumental in commissioning in her former role as head of housing at Anglesey Council.


New affordable homes register to help people secure their dream home Friday 18 May 2018

Would-be homeowners and tenants in North Wales and Powys are being urged to join a new online affordable housing register to increase their chances of securing their dream home.


Young and old come together at Grŵp Cynefin event Thursday 3 May 2018

An innovative scheme from a North Wales housing association is helping enrich elderly people’s lives.


Work begins on developing Pentre Canol, the extra care housing scheme for older people in Denbigh Thursday 26 April 2018

The construction of a brand new extra care housing scheme for older people in Denbighshire, begins this week (23 April) in the centre of Denbigh.


Local builders merchant donate products and labour to refurb garden Tuesday 24 April 2018

A trio of Anglesey businesses, Jewsons, Mona Precast and Grays Waste, came to the rescue when asked to donate products and labour force to help renovate the garden of a terminally ill service users with J. Williams Contractors, North Wales Plant Hire and Jewson, Tool Hire Llangefni supplying the tool hire.


Youth Shedz Monday 16 April 2018

A new initiative, Youth Shedz, which aims to provide a safe place for young people, to proactively engage and develop new skills is due to open its doors in Denbigh this month.


Board member urges first-time would-be directors to apply for Grŵp Cynefin vacancy Monday 9 April 2018

A call has gone out for people with an interest in the housing sector, who also have business experience, to apply for a vacancy on the board of Grŵp Cynefin housing association.


Great investment for local housing in the village of Cemaes Wednesday 21 March 2018

Work has begun to develop much needed homes in an Anglesey community during recent weeks.


CIH Cymru and Grŵp Cynefin welcome Minister to the first in a series roundtable discussions Monday 19 March 2018

The Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Rebecca Evans AM, will attend a roundtable discussion at Grŵp Cynefin offices in Holyhead on 15 March.


Right to Buy abolished in Wales Friday 16 March 2018

The right of housing association tenants to buy or acquire their home will end on 26th January 2019.


Walis George career highlights on the eve of his retirement as Grŵp Cynefin Chief Executive Monday 12 March 2018

After 26 years working in the north Wales housing sector, Walis George, Chief Executive of Grŵp Cynefin housing association will retire from office this month.


Housing association’s fuel poverty work wins trio of commendations Thursday 15 February 2018

Work by energy wardens to help combat fuel poverty in North Wales has received a trio of commendations.


Grŵp Cynefin names new chief executive Tuesday 30 January 2018

A former bank clerk whose career took off after she changed course because she wanted to work with people and help improve lives, is to be the next chief executive of Grŵp Cynefin.


New director eager to help north Wales communities Monday 22 January 2018

The new Grŵp Cynefin Director of Regeneration Services, Dylan Roberts, is looking forward to helping local people and their communities as part of his new role with the housing association.


Marc works with the stars on Snowdonia film set Thursday 4 January 2018

A Grŵp Cynefin tenant recently spent a week on set in Snowdonia with some of Wales’ greatest actors filming a national new TV drama series.


New Denbighshire homes meet local demand for quality housing Monday 18 December 2017

There is celebration for families in Denbighshire, as twelve new homes have been allocated to local people in Llangollen, thanks to a local lettings policy.


Much-needed area office increases investment in Denbigh town to £15.2m Tuesday 14 November 2017

Staff, Board Members and other stakeholders came together to celebrate the latest investment by Grŵp Cynefin in Denbigh town centre.


Film set skills and training on offer to the unemployed, with help from Grŵp Cynefin Monday 23 October 2017

Ffilm Cymru Wales’ Foot in the Door scheme is offering unemployed people of all ages in North Wales a chance to gain valuable skills on the set of a major new TV series shortly to start filming in Snowdonia.


Abuse survivor thanks Gorwel for ‘incredible’ work Wednesday 11 October 2017

A domestic abuse survivor has paid a moving tribute to a north Wales women’s refuge service for its ‘incredible’ work helping turn her life around.


Consent to demolish former school buildings at Middle Lane, Denbigh Wednesday 13 September 2017

Grŵp Cynefin very much welcomes today’s decision by Denbighshire County Council’s Planning Committee to allow the demolition of existing buildings on the former Middle Lane School site. This is a significant milestone in the project to provide much needed extra care housing for older people in Denbigh.


National award for a former homeless Denbighshire youngster Monday 11 September 2017

A young woman from Denbighshire who transformed her life with support from Gorwel, is celebrating winning a national award at a star-studded event in Cardiff.


Pioneering scheme to help older people continue to live at home is already bearing fruit Monday 24 July 2017

Help to regain contact with an estranged family, and support to rebuild finances following three heart attacks, have both been hailed as early success stories of a pioneering older person’s service for Anglesey, officially launched today.


Extra care housing scheme residents adjusting to COVID-19 measures

Those are the words of Grŵp Cynefin’s extra care scheme resident in Bala, 76-year-old Mrs Llywela Lloyd Pritchard. She is a lady whose glass is always half full, has a vivacious character and is young at heart.

“There’s no point complaining, we’re very fortunate to live in such a wonderful place, with caring staff working here and looking after us so well,” explains Mrs Pritchard who originally lived on a farm near Bala, and was widowed some years ago.

Awel y Coleg in Bala is home to older people who want to continue to live independently within a 30 comfortable flat complex. All tenants are supported with some requiring additional support via a specific care package.

Grŵp Cynefin has four extra care housing schemes across north Wales, with an additional scheme currently being built at Denbigh. They include Penucheldre, Holyhead, Anglesey; Hafod y Gest, Porthmadog, Gwynedd; Llys Awelon, Ruthin in Denbighshire and Awel y Coleg, in Bala run in partnership with Gwynedd Council.

Changes to procedures have taken place at all Grŵp Cynefin extra care housing schemes as a result of Covid-19. The purpose is to ensure that all staff members do their utmost to protect the residents, to the best of their abilities. The social areas, lounge, hobby room and restaurant where a variety of activities took place weekly, have all had to close their doors.

The aim now is to isolate tenants within their own flats and encourage them to exercise once a day. There is also an emphasis on social distancing, cleanliness and regular hand washing within each extra care housing scheme setting.

“In one sense, we are fortunate that everyone has their own front door,” explains Siân Ellis, Grŵp Cynefin’s Senior Older People’s Officer.

“The staff and tenants have done a great job adapting to the new ways of living and working here at Awel y Coleg. Each flat has a small table outside the door, so that meals can be placed on the tables and making it easier for staff to leave groceries, newspapers and letters for tenants to pick up at their convenience.”

One major change to Llywela Pritchard’s life is the fact that she does not see her family on a daily basis. Her daughter or grandchildren called in to see her daily, either for a chat before going to school, delivering groceries from the shop or to pop by for a cup of tea.

Due to the threat of Covid-19 in our communities, a strict policy is now in place at Awel y Coleg whereby no relatives or friends are allowed to visit.

“I’ve always loved writing letters,” explains Mrs Pritchard. “So I’ve re-started writing since these restrictions were imposed on us. I’m a grandmother of three children, Enion, Lliwen and Gwenith, and all three receive a letter from me twice a week.

“I had a conversation with the eldest grandson on the phone recently and asked him ‘how is your arm now? Has it improved?’ ‘What do you mean Nain?’ he said, ‘there’s nothing wrong with my arm!’ ‘Well I thought to myself, you must have hurt your arm, because why else was I only receiving letters back in the post from your sisters!’ Well we both laughed and laughed on the phone!”

Anna Llwyd originally from Rhyduchaf near Bala, Mrs Pritchard’s daughter, said: “It’s been a strange time for us all. We’re a very close family, so it was a bit of a shock to realise that we wouldn’t be able to call in and see mum daily, as we used to.

“Awel y Coleg staff are a godsend. We, as a family, are very comfortable leaving mum in their care. They are kind, thoughtful and nothing is too much trouble for them. We feel very fortunate.”

There will be a stir of excitement at Awel y Coleg this Friday, 8 May, because a special programme recorded before the Covid-19 restrictions came into force, will be broadcasted on S4C.

“We’re really looking forward,” explains Llywela Pritchard. “Rhys Meirion visited us in February with Branwen Williams from Llanuwchllyn who conducted an inter-generational choir. Some of us are singing with young people from the area, some are relatives and friends; and after some rehearsals, we sang a special song created for us on the Corau Rhys Meirion TV series.

“Rhys pushed me in my wheelchair along Awel y Coleg’s corridors back in February, whilst I showed him where everywhere was, the shop, the restaurant and the hairdresser.

“I’ll be watching from behind a cushion on Friday night, but boy oh boy, we had some great fun filming!”

To find out more about Grŵp Cynefin’s extra care housing schemes click here or call 0300 111 2122.

Y Shed has been given a welcome boost from The National Lottery Community Fund

A community project hit by the Coronavirus pandemic has been given a welcome boost from The National Lottery Community Fund.

Meliden’s Y Shed project had been open for just nine months when the country went into lockdown.

The Grade II listed building, which had undergone a £1.2 million revamp after standing empty for years, is home to a café and four start-up businesses. All were forced to close, impacting the businesses, the project, and the community surrounding Y Shed.

Spearheaded by charitable housing association Grŵp Cynefin and Meliden Residents Action group, Y Shed had become a valuable part of village life.

Mair Edwards, Grŵp Cynefin’s Community Initiatives Manager, said: “In the short time since it opened, Y Shed had nurtured new businesses, provided a showcase for local artists and crafters and firmly established itself in the heart of Meliden. The sudden closure of the building, café, and businesses felt overwhelming.”

Thanks to the National Lottery’s Community Fund, Y Shed has been awarded £18,100 through its COVID-19 Top Up Grant.

“The benefits of this Covid-19 Top Up Grant from The National Lottery Community Fund will be far-reaching,” said Mair. “It allows us to cover losses of income plus meet ongoing costs associated with running and maintaining the building. In a short time, Y Shed and the businesses there had built up great customer bases, and this lovely old building has become a much-loved meeting place for the wider community.

“We want to make sure that when this is all over, we are here for all who work at, visit, or use Y Shed and the National Lottery funding supports us in doing that. Community resilience will play a part in helping the country recover, and places like Y Shed will be valuable in slowly and gently bringing people together again.”

Over the next six months, The National Lottery Community Fund are prioritising grant application for community activity related to COVID-19. To find out more visit www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/wales

Gorwel reassures victims of domestic abuse that support is there during COVID-19

Gorwel, which is run by housing association Grŵp Cynefin, assisted more than 350 people per week before the current restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

And the organisation is predicting an rise in requests for help, with concerns that self-isolation could increase domestic tensions as well as remove opportunities for respite, such as work or the school run.

Gorwel has taken steps to ensure it can handle a surge in enquiries, and is urging people to get in touch with any service to help them through any difficulties they may face as a result of the stay-at-home order.

Gwyneth Williams, Gorwel manager, said: “We are acutely aware that there is a huge risk of an increase in domestic abuse instances.

“Our number one priority is to ensure the health of our employees while still delivering key support to those who need it and we have introduced measures in accordance with government guidelines.

“Our services are still operating during COVID-19.

“We have four refuges across Gwynedd and Anglesey that are places of safety and available 24 hours a day, which are funded by Gwynedd and Anglesey Housing Support Grant.

“We also provide specialist provision for children and young people, and a floating support project that works with other agencies to work with people in a medium-risk situation.

“We also run the Independent Domestic Violence Advisors service for high-risk referrals across North Wales in partnership with the Domestic Abuse Safety Unit (DASU) and funded by the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.”

The National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25 per cent increase in requests for help since the lockdown, with concerns that this will continue to grow.

Domestic abuse victims are allowed to leave home to seek help at refuges despite rules to stop coronavirus spreading, Priti Patel, home secretary, has said.

North Wales Police are reminding those experiencing abuse in the home that officers are still on hand to deal with perpetrators regardless of the government restriction measures.

Gorwel provides support to the homeless, victims of domestic abuse, and people over 55 who need assistance to continue living independently, across Gwynedd, Anglesey and Denbighshire.

To read more about Gorwel click here or call 0300 111 2122.

Grŵp Cynefin is with you through this crisis

We recognise this is an uncertain time for you in Wales. Covid-19 is rapidly changing the world around us, and is having a profound impact on people’s jobs, communities and lives.

Grŵp Cynefin supports over 4000 tenants across north Wales.

We exist to serve our communities and will do everything we can to stand by you in these uncertain times.

Whatever you’re going through at this time, we are with you.

How can we support you?

  • We will keep you safe and secure in your home

No one will be evicted from a Grŵp Cynefin home as a result of financial hardship caused by COVID 19.

  • We will help you get the financial support you need

Our Welfare Team are here to help you access welfare schemes to alleviate financial hardship.

  • We are here to support you and find solutions if you have difficulty paying your rent

We will work with you to understand how we can best help you manage your tenancy.

  • We will do everything we can to support your wellbeing

Please contact us if you require any additional support and we will do our very best to assist you either ourselves or through a network of partner agencies.

Please contact us if you need further support: 0300 111 2122 / post@grwpcynefin.org

Tenants Letter & FAQs

Grŵp Cynefin appreciate that this is a difficult time and would like to offer reassurance of our commitment to keep our tenants safe, following the latest advice from Public Health Wales. Given the rising number of cases of Coronavirus in the country, we are placing measures to safeguard the wellbeing of all our tenants as our absolute priority.

  • Download a copy of the letter sent to our tenants relating to tenancy, repairs, rent and more here.
  • See the answers to frequently asked questions from our tenants about the Coronavirus here.

Downloads

Grŵp Cynefin office closure during Coronavirus outbreak

We will be closing the doors of all our offices across the operating area from the end of Wednesday 18 March. This means that many of our staff will work from home to ensure our services can continue.

Our frontline teams continue to support our most vulnerable tenants and service users in the home and in the community, following the latest advice from Public Health Wales and taking the proactive measures as required.

We will monitor this situation on a daily basis and inform you of any changes to our services as soon as possible. I would like to stress that we are still available to you during this time, by phone on 0300 111 2122, by email at post@grwpcynefin.org, and on social media.

Coronavirus Update  17.03.2020

We are regularly checking updates from health experts and the Government and what those mean for Grŵp Cynefin and how we operate.

Whilst we are not healthcare experts and cannot answer any questions that relate to individual health concerns, as a responsible business we are following Government advice on the virus and want to share this information with you.

We have set up regular business continuity catch-ups with our senior team to look at any changes in government or NHS advice. We’ll be updating this page with new information or changes.

Official and up to date information can be found on the following websites:

If you contact us then you will be asked some questions about symptoms of coronavirus and any chronic health conditions. This is important so we can limit the risk to our colleagues and customers of coming into contact with someone who may have the virus.

If you have already made an appointment to visit our offices next week or you need further assistance, please contact us.

We will be dealing with any appointments on a case by case basis and following Government advice on how we operate.

Our reception areas are appointment only.

The safety of our staff and customers is our priority so we are taking temporary measures to close our reception for walk-ins from Tuesday 17th March.

Coronavirus Update 12.03.2020

We understand that visits from close friends and relatives are important for the wellbeing of our residents, but we ask that visitors:

  • Do not attempt to enter the building if they are feeling unwell, have a fever or persistent cough.
  • Use the hand sanitising equipment that is available when they enter the property.
  • Ask that they go immediately to the flat of the tenant they are visiting, avoiding any communal rooms.

This information has been shared with residents and is displayed in the properties. Thank you for your cooperation.

Grŵp Cynefin secures prestigious workplace accreditation

Grŵp Cynefin, which has been awarded the silver accreditation by Investors in People (IIP), has implemented a number of recommendations made by assessors during its first assessment in 2016.

The housing association has put 24 of its senior managers and team through leadership training in the last 12 months, with all members of the workforce provided with opportunities to upskill and cross skill.

It also put 25 of its employees through a specialised programme (Lean Six Sigma) to help recognise where the organisation can get more value for money and make processes slicker.

In addition, Grŵp Cynefin, which manages approximately 4,000 homes across North Wales and north Powys, embedded a behavioural framework to help benchmark and measure key behaviours including reducing waste and excellent customer service.

Grŵp Cynefin HR manager Gwenda Squire said: “Achieving the silver award from IIP is fantastic and is a clear sign we are supporting our employees.

“More importantly, it’s helping us to serve our tenants better. For example, the Lean Six Sigma programme has allowed for members of staff to provide cross departmental feedback with a fresh pair of eyes to help us work smarter to save time and money.

“We are able to use the time saved to identify ways in which we can improve and enhance tenant experiences.”

Formed in 1991 as a UK Government project, IIP is a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on improving standards and productivity at workplaces across the country for the benefit of staff.

A number of suggestions were made by IIP assessors on Grŵp Cynefin’s first visit, including the further development of leadership skills and implementation of an action plan.

Bryn Ellis, Grŵp Cynefin business services director, said: “It’s all about ownership. We have empowered the staff to make decisions and are also involving them in the decision-making process, such as engaging on the organisation’s Corporate Plan and holding group sessions with our chief executive.

“It will also assist with staff retention and recruitment as we are demonstrating a commitment and a passion to develop our people.”

According to Investors in People, only 15 per cent of organisations achieve the silver accreditation nationally.

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin chief executive, said the recognition was a reflection of the company’s progress in the last four years.

She said: “As an organisation, we pride ourselves on providing ‘More than Housing’ and this is evident in securing the Investors in People accreditation.

“Having happy and productive employees benefits our tenants and partners through improved communication and activity.

“We value the contribution of our hard-working staff and will continue to develop our teams moving forward.”

Singing is good for the intergenerational choir’s sole as Rhys Meirion films at Awel y Coleg

Whether or not singing can heal, there is certainly plenty of excitement at Grŵp Cynefin’s extra care housing scheme in Bala, as the Ruthin singer, Rhys Meirion joins residents to sing, chat and interview for an S4C TV series ‘Corau Rhys Meirion’.

Awel y Coleg in Bala is home to older residents from the area who are keen to live independently within 30 comfortable apartments situated in one location within the town, with the option of receiving support and care packages, if required.

And within the social areas of the complex, the lounge, hobby room and restaurant, there are an array of activities happening on a weekly basis.

The Clwb Canu (Singing Club) was the vision of one of Awel y Coleg’s tenants, Millie Rowlands, where residents gather every Monday to sing together and enjoy listening to music as a small choir.

Grŵp Cynefin’s Senior Older Person’s Officer, Sian Ellis says that the Clwb Canu has been a breath of fresh air: “Continuing to be independent and enjoying the things that have been an integral part of your life since childhood or during your adult years is very important to the residents of Awel y Coleg. In fact, we encourage interests that activate both body and mind.

“We were therefore delighted to see Mrs Millie Rowlands, as one of the tenants, gather a group of residents to sing, hum, or just sit and listen to the Clwb Canu sing and enjoy music.”

Since Awel y Coleg was established back in 2012, many guests have visited, including children from the area’s primary schools to participate in singing and arts and crafts activities with the residents, as part of an intergenerational project. Some pupils from Ysgol Godre’r Berwyn have also attended to take part in activities with the older people.

But with TV company, Cwmni Da looking for a talented older choir to collaborate with young people aged between 16 and 25, the Clwb Canu stepped up to the challenge.

For some weeks now, around 20 young people from the area join the residents of Awel y Coleg to rehearse as an intergenerational choir. Local talented musician, Branwen Williams from Llanuwchllyn, is in charge of keeping everyone in line, rehearsing and conducting the new choir.

And of course, when Rhys Meirion calls in for a chat or to rehearse a few notes, everyone is delighted.

“The number participating in the Clwb Canu has now expanded, as interest in the choir has grown,” explains Sian Ellis.

“The rehearsals are progressing well, with everyone enjoying themselves. And it’s lovely to see young relatives of some of the residents joining the intergenerational choir. The choir will soon be recording their song, but unfortunately, we will have to wait until the new TV series hits the small screen in September to hear the choir sing on S4C. Everyone will, no doubt, congregate in the lounge that evening to enjoy the show!”

Tenants move into innovative modular homes

The two new homes are an addition to six traditionally built houses already owned by Grŵp Cynefin on the site, at Cynwyd near Corwen.

“It’s been reassuring to be able to continue to live here in Cynwyd, a village that has been my home for over a quarter of a century, and where I have raised my family,” said tenant Angela Bethan Gregory.

“I am so pleased that I spoke to my local county councillor for advice and that the housing officer of Grŵp Cynefin made contact with me to say that two new houses were being built here. Within a few months, I have moved into an innovative house and settled well into my new home.”

The modular housing scheme, built in partnership with the Welsh Government’s innovative housing programme, helps reduce energy costs for tenants. The ready-made, two-bedroom homes are designed to retain heat, with environmentally friendly timber frames that help keep the properties warm.

“Everything runs on electricity here, where in my old home I had gas and electricity supply. We’re still trying to get used to the new heating system which is technologically clever. “The design of the house is spot on, it flows well downstairs and the patio doors open out into the garden. The bedrooms are large, and there are very useful storage areas within the house. We are in a lovely location, it’s quiet here, and I am enjoying being in my new home. The grandchildren are delighted to visit and are both enjoying the new house with gran!” The contractor spent less time on site due to the modular construction method, and although there were some delay due to on-site drainage works, the process has had less impact on the local community as the work progressed. The modular units were produced by specialist manufacturer F1 Modular from Newtown, Powys. Shan Lloyd Williams, chief executive of Grŵp Cynefin, said: “We are proud to provide our tenants with these high quality homes so they can live their modern lives comfortably. And hearing that the tenants are settling in and enjoying living in their homes is very positive. “This project is an important part of our development programme, as we aim to build 120 new homes a year for the next few years, and are actively looking for more opportunities to develop. Building quality affordable homes in rural areas such as Cynwyd in Denbighshire helps to address the identified need, giving each and every one of us a sense of pride in our work - thank you to everyone involved.” Denbighshire County Councillor who represents Llandrillo residents, Mabon ap Gwynfor, said: “It has been a positive experience to assist two local tenants within Llandrillo to discuss their housing needs with Grŵp Cynefin. Ensuring quality homes in a rural location like Cynwyd is always a challenge, and I take great pride in the fact that tenants who live and work locally have moved into these new homes.” Information on Coronavirus

Information on Coronavirus

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or shortness of breath. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild, however symptoms may progress to a severe pneumonia.

Generally, Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Advice for the public

Please check the most recent advice for returning travellers, which includes guidance for those returning from China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Northern Italy, and Iran.

Members of the public can help protect themselves and others by washing their hands with soap and water often every day, or use a sanitiser gel, and to always carry tissues, and using them to catch coughs or sneezes. They should bin the tissue, and to kill the germs. This is the best way to slow the spread of most germs, including Novel Coronavirus.

You should ‘self isolate’ if there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, call 111 and isolate yourself from other people. Do not visit your GP surgery or A&E.

This means you should:

• stay at home

• Separate yourself from other people in your home If you live with other people, you may have to take extra measures to reduce the chances of onward infection, such as staying in a separate room and regularly cleaning shared kitchens and bathrooms.

• Cover your coughs and sneezes

• Wash your hands thoroughly

• Avoid sharing household items

• Do not have visitors in your home

• Ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you - such as getting groceries, medication or other shopping You should make sure any items delivered are left outside, or in the porch, or as appropriate for your home.

• Not use public transport like buses, trains or taxis

See link from Public Health Wales on full details for self isolation - self-isolation advice.

If you are ‘self isolating’ due to issues related to the Cornonavirus and are a Grŵp Cynefin tenant please get in contact with us on 03001112122 so that we put arrangements in place to properly support you.

POSTPONED - Awel y Dyffryn Open Day

Members of the public will have the chance to meet with officers from Grŵp Cynefin housing association to learn more about its Awel y Dyffryn project scheduled to welcome residents later this year.

Awel y Dyffryn will meet the needs of older people who want to live independently in their own homes, but with care and support available 24 hours. Its accommodation will comprise of 42 two-bedroom and 24 one-bedroom apartments.

The open day will be held at Eirianfa Community Centre, Denbigh, on Monday 16 March from 2pm to 6pm.

Grŵp Cynefin and Denbighshire County Council staff will be on hand to explain the specification of apartments, about communal rooms and shared facilities, the services on offer, and also how to apply to be considered for an apartment.

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin chief executive, said: “At Grŵp Cynefin, one of our pledges is to offer our tenants more than just housing.

“This open day provides residents across the community to find out more and see for themselves how Awel y Dyffryn will support the needs of older people locally.

“Applicants can now register their interest in Awel y Dyffryn by contacting our customer services team on 0300 111 2122 or by popping into our Denbigh office for an application form.

“Our officers will be on hand on March 16 to assist further.”

Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire County Council lead member for Well-being and Independence, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Grŵp Cynefin on this project which will help older people live independently and make our communities more resilient.

“I would encourage eligible residents to attend the open day to find out more about this scheme and how it could benefit them.”

As part of the £12m extra care development, tenants will be able to access shared facilities including a restaurant, activities room, communal lounges, landscaped gardens and a laundry room.

The new facility, located on the site of the former Middle Lane School is due for completion by the end of 2020.

Extra benefits on offer will include intergenerational events to tackle loneliness and mental health, together with other social and leisure activities.

Preference for tenancies will be given to Denbighshire residents aged 60 and over.

Awel y Dyffryn is Grŵp Cynefin’s fifth extra care scheme, and its second in Denbighshire. Its other, long-established schemes are located in Bala, Holyhead, Ruthin and Porthmadog.

The 66-apartment town centre scheme is a joint project between Grŵp Cynefin and Denbighshire County Council, with financial support from the Welsh Government

The facility is being developed by local contractor, R L Davies, of Colwyn Bay.

For more information our Extra Care Housing Schemes click here.

Storm Dennis

Here’s a list of useful contact numbers:

• Grŵp Cynefin: 0300 111 2122

• Electricity: 105

• Gas: 0800 111 999

• Welsh Water: 0800 052 0130

• Natural Resources Wales: 0300 065 3000

• NHS Direct: 0845 46 47

• Emergency Services: 999

• Police (non emergency): 101

To help us assist tenants in need of immediate support, we are requesting that people only contact us if it is an emergency. Please also consider whether the first point of contact is Grŵp Cynefin or another organisation including the emergency services, energy providers, local councils, and service providers such as broadband and TV.

We will attend emergency call outs as and when it is safe for our contractors to do so.

Downloads

Storm Ciara

We are receiving a high number of calls regarding damage to properties as a result of Storm Ciara.

To help us assist tenants in need of immediate support, we are requesting that people only contact us if it is an emergency.

Please also consider whether the best point of contact is Grŵp Cynefin or another organisation including Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN), the emergency services, local councils, and service providers such as broadband and TV.

We are attending emergency call outs as and when it is safe for our contractors to do so.

If your enquiry is not urgent, please take pictures of damage and email them to us on post@grwpcynefin.org. We will respond during normal working hours of Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm, with our telephone lines being open from 8:30am.

We foresee that it will be very busy for us on Monday 10 February 2020, if your situation does not need urgent response we would be grateful if you could delay contacting for the time being.

No Electricity: Call 105

Welsh Water: 0800 052 0130

British Gas: 0800 111 999

Natural Resources Wales: 0300 065 3000

Happy birthday to Hafod y Gest

Tenants living in Grŵp Cynefin’s Hafod y Gest development, located in the town centre, have created a close-knit community and say “they can’t be at a better suited location.”

Whilst cutting the birthday cake at the £7.8m development that allows older people in the area to live independently within a safe community environment where flexible support and care services are available, staff say they are delighted that the 49 residents have settled into their new home.

Gaynor Owen, 82, who moved to Hafod y Gest from her flat in Porthmadog a year ago, said: “I get up in the morning and give thanks for living in such a nice place. The designers have done a great job creating the space, where everything is easily accessible.

“We are free to live independently in our flats, but support is available from staff and carers, if required. My health is not 100% at the moment, but having people around me and the opportunity to socialise in the different activities available is a great help.

“The exercise class has really helped me strengthen my muscles after my hip fracture. I feel the class is having a positive impact on me, I’m much firmer on my feet and it has given me back my self-confidence.”

Helen Griffiths, 58, the first tenant to move to Hafod y Gest a year ago, said: “I’m happy to be here, as I have my independence within my flat, but I’m also able to pop into town in my wheelchair. As I suffer from Multiple Sclerosis, I have some days when I become indifferent to preparing food. Since coming here, lunch is prepared for me, and it gives me consistency within my diet, no matter how I feel.

Helen Griffiths also praises the provision available for her family to stay at Hafod y Gest, when visiting. At a reasonable price, there is a visitor’s room within the complex where family members can stay and sleep overnight. “Having that option has been really great for us, as I only have a small spare room within the flat.”

Hafod y Gest consists of 26 two-bedroom and 14 one-bedroom apartments and was developed in partnership with Gwynedd Council and Grŵp Cynefin by Anwyl Construction. It was part-funded by Welsh Government’s Housing Grant.

During the construction phase, 12 North Wales apprentices worked on site, with 92 per cent of the total workforce living in the region. The project has created seven permanent roles including a manager, caretaker, kitchen staff and night carers.

Shan Lloyd Williams, Chief Executive of Grŵp Cynefin, said: “This is our fourth extra care scheme in North Wales and we are delighted to be able to mark this important milestone and celebrate the first birthday with everyone settled and the facility flourishing.

“As a housing association we are committed to providing housing solutions in the region and these schemes are a great opportunity for older people to live independently with the flexibility of accessing care services if required.”

Gwynedd Council’s Adult, Health and Well Being Cabinet Member, Councillor Dafydd Meurig, said: “Hafod y Gest development is a wonderful example of how we are working with our partners to transform our social care. One year on, it’s good to see that many of Gwynedd’s older people are settled, comfortable and continue to live independently and safely within their communities.

“I would like to thank our partners at Grŵp Cynefin and the Health Board who have played a crucial role in providing our third extra care housing facility here in Gwynedd. Most of all, I would like to thank the staff for their care and support of the tenants, throughout the year.”

Tenants urged to be mindful of the importance of keeping property appointments

Grŵp Cynefin is calling on occupiers to make sure they are available to have important work carried out on their homes to ensure they remain safe and secure.

Grŵp Cynefin has a housing maintenance service which carries out routine and emergency repairs as and when required.

Unfortunately, some appointments have had to be cancelled owing to tenants either not being home or unable to arrange access.

Grŵp Cynefin takes the upkeep of properties seriously and has focused on tightening up on health & safety policies and procedures, including work in communicating to tenants the extent of its fire safety provision, in the wake of Grenfell Tower.

In 2018/19, 97 per cent of emergency repairs were completed within 24 hours, while 99.8 per cent of Grŵp Cynefin properties had received their annual inspection.

Rhiannon Dafydd, Grŵp Cynefin housing manager, stressed the importance of tenants allowing maintenance work to be carried out when required.

She said: “The safety of our residents is our number one priority, that is why we would urge all tenants to ensure when it comes to maintenance appointments, even annual routine inspections, that you are at home and able to assist engineers access your property.

“These inspections and works are carried out for the safety of you, your home and your family. We’d urge everyone to make sure you are able to have your property inspected and maintained when an appointment is made available to you.”

Tenants are responsible for insuring the contents of their home. Grŵp Cynefin will insure the building.

The housing association has an emergency out of office hours service. It operates between 5pm and 8.30am, and at weekends and Bank Holidays. You can access the on-call service by calling 0300 111 2122.

Downloads

Grŵp Cynefin takes pride in a local community enterprise, Siop Griffiths

Siop Griffiths Ltd is a community benefit enterprise giving local people a voice, and since opening the café, Yr Orsaf, on Penygroes high street in February, visitors have been flocking to sample the sweet and savoury dishes available whilst enjoying a cup of tea or coffee.

Ben Gregory, Grŵp Cynefin’s senior community officer who has been supporting the group, said: “£900,000 of European funding, Welsh Government, Lottery and a number of smaller trusts have been secured over the last two years. It’s amazing to think that a small group of local people here in Gwynedd have been able to attract so much investment. This is in addition to the £54,000 raised locally by 150 shareholders for the original purchase of the building.

“Local people should be applauded for their vision, confidence and enterprise skills associated with this project. But most of all, they should be praised for their hard work and dedication to the scheme. It is a huge credit to the community that Yr Orsaf is open and that the parlwr is now also available for community hire as a meeting or small events location. The first acoustic gig was held at Yr Orsaf a few weeks ago, so the venue is fast becoming established as a social activity hub for the community to come together and enjoy.”

A business has been run from Siop Griffiths for 90 years, and as one of the oldest buildings in the village, it was important that the building, which dates back to 1829, should continue as a place of work.

The next stage of the scheme is to open a digital training centre, where young people can come to use the resources, be creative and learn new skills - activities such as film making, music and podcasts. The centre is set to open in the New Year.

There are also plans in the pipeline to develop a 16 bed accommodation for groups or families during the coming year.

“Grŵp Cynefin has offered technical advice to the board during the past two years,” explains Ben Gregory. “We have supported the group with building plans, advice, design and paperwork for the development.

“When there was a problem with a funding grant shortfall, we were able to draw on the professional experience of the housing association and offer a different path to reach a specific goal. The collaboration has been very positive and we are proud of the success of the enterprise.”

Councillor Judith Humphreys, who represents Penygroes residents on Gwynedd Council, said: “It’s been refreshing to see Yr Orsaf opening its doors and seeing the support of local people for the business objectives. With the local history of Siop Griffiths on the high street, it was important to continue the long standing tradition of the location and safeguard its heritage. Our heartfelt thanks must go to a number of people for persevering with the vision and working so diligently to reach this stage of the project. The enterprise brings work to the area and offers training to young people - two very important aspects for this part of Gwynedd. There is more work to be done and I look forward to continuing to work with the management board over the coming months.”

For more information about the enterprise visit: Yr Orsaf on Facebook or email: post@yrorsaf.cymru / 07410 982467.

Jade showcases independence at Cymorth Cymru awards

Jade Winder, 25, received the Showcase Award for Personal Achievement at the Cymorth Cymru’s Promoting Independence Awards.

Jade, who lives in Yr Hafod, supported accommodation in Denbigh, which is run by Gorwel, a business unit within Grŵp Cynefin housing association, was part of the Welsh national team that took part in this year’s Homeless World Cup in Cardiff.

Now in their 12th year, the Promoting Independence Awards celebrate the people and teams that provide support in Wales, and the work that is being done to help some of the most vulnerable members of society to fulfil their potential and maximise their independence.

The 17th Homeless World Cup saw 500 players from 50 countries take part in 4-a-side matches, and, as hosts, Wales played in the opening game.

Jade received the Showcase Award in recognition of her progress and the challenges she has overcome on her journey towards independence and better wellbeing.

She said the award, sponsored by Grŵp Cynefin/Gorwel topped an excellent year personally.

“I had to apply for the award but I really wasn’t expecting it,” she said.

“It was an amazing feeling to receive it and it’s been a fantastic year for me personally.

“It’s all gone so fast, you really do feel like a lot has been accomplished.”

Osian Elis, assistant manager at Gorwel, said: “We are really pleased to see Jade win this award after a fantastic year. The Homeless World Cup really took her out of her comfort zone and she has become an outstanding role model for young people.”

Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire County Council’s lead member for Well-being and Independence, said: “I would like to congratulate Jade on her latest success with this award and for her work as a role model for other young people. Jade is one of a number of people in Denbighshire supported to find housing through funding from the Council’s Housing Support Grant.”

Gorwel provides services to support individuals and families suffering domestic abuse and those at risk of losing their homes, as well as works to prevent homelessness.

For more information about Gorwel click here

Candle Safety Advice

As the sales of candles has gone up by 50% in recent years, this trend is unfortunately going to continue unless people are educated as to the dangers of candles and the damage they can cause.

Candles mark special occasions and create a special atmosphere. They also bring fire into your home. So treat them carefully.

The Do’s and Dont’s

  • Always put candles on a heat resistant surface. Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which get hot enough to melt plastic. TVs are not fire-resistant objects
  • Put them in a proper holder. Candles need to be held firmly upright by the holder so they won’t fall over. The holder needs to be stable too, so it won’t fall over either
  • Position them away from curtains. Don’t put candles near curtains or other fabrics – or furniture. And keep them out of draughts
  • Don’t put them under shelves. It’s easy to forget that there’s a lot of heat above a burning candle. If you put it under a shelf or other surface then it can burn the surface. Make sure there’s at least three feet (one metre) between a candle and any surface above it
  • Keep clothes and hair away. If there’s any chance you could lean across a candle and forget it’s there, put it somewhere else. You don’t want to set fire to your clothes or your hair
  • Keep children and pets away. Candles should be out of reach of children and pets
  • Keep candles apart. Leave at least four inches (10cm) between two burning candles
  • Take care with votive or scented candles. These kinds of candles turn to liquid to release their fragrance, so put them in a glass or metal holder
  • Don’t move them when they’re burning. Extinguish candles before moving them. Also, don’t let anything fall into the hot wax like match sticks
  • Don’t leave them burning. Extinguish candles before you leave a room. Never go to sleep with a candle still burning. And never leave a burning candle or oil burner in a child’s bedroom
  • Use a snuffer or a spoon to put them out. It’s safer than blowing them, which can send sparks and hot wax flying
  • Double check they’re out. Candles that have been put out can go on smouldering and start a fire. Make sure they’re completely out.

Reduce the risk of fires – and get a FREE Home Fire Safety Check. Click here for more information

Grŵp Cynefin announces four new additions to its board

Mike Corfield joins Grŵp Cynefin with more than 30 years’ experience in the social housing sector and said he found the organisation’s broad approach to be “exactly what the sector needs to be doing.”

“As someone with a governance background, Grŵp Cynefin is an outstanding organisation in my view.

“They’re involved in a wide range of support and community development extending beyond the core business which I found very attractive and is what I think housing organisations should do.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Grŵp Cynefin.”

Wrexham-born Tony Jones said the opportunity to give something back to a company in Wales proved to be a determining factor in his decision to join the board.

He said: “I’ve been involved in social housing for 15 years in various roles and it’s been on the agenda for some time to join a board.

“I feel it’s time for me to give back some of the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years into a Welsh organisation. I hope to be able to offer some insight into strategic operations, an area I enjoy. Grŵp Cynefin’s diverse range of tenures is interesting and I can offer experience in different areas.”

After more than 20 years in finance, Jane Lewis said she felt her skills in the private sector are transfereable to Grŵp Cynefin.

She said: “After taking a bit of time out from my last role, I was able to do other things with my time.

“I really liked the sound of Grŵp Cynefin, the way it involves the whole community with their approach and I felt I have skills to offer to help improve that as well as getting something from it myself as well.”

Geraint George spent more than 25 years at Gwynedd Council after working in the housing and voluntary sectors. He said he was “keen to share my experience and skills” with the community in his new position.

“I joined the board of Canllaw and was really enjoying it, found it really rewarding, and Grŵp Cynefin has an excellent reputation for its work in community wellbeing,” he said.

“I was keen to give something back and from my perspective, Grŵp Cynefin does lots of very important work in communities across North Wales, for the people in every area.”

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin chief executive officer, said: “I’m pleased to welcome our new board members, their wealth of collective experience and diverse backgrounds will strengthen our board’s already wide range of skills and abilities.”

Dafydd Lewis, chairman of Grŵp Cynefin, added: “I’m delighted that Geraint, Mike, Tony and Jane have joined the board. These new appointments further strengthen Grŵp Cynefin’s leadership experience and will help take the company forward.”

Are more affordable homes needed on Anglesey?

“It’s a great job,” explains Dylan, who has worked as a housing enabler for three years. “I’m tasked with speaking to local communities, community councils, businesses and different agencies to see what people’s views are about housing needs across Anglesey.

And on Wednesday afternoon, 4 of December, Dylan will be at Llanfaelog Village Hall on the west coast of Anglesey asking the communities of Llanfaelog, Llanfair yn neubwll, Bryngwran, Aberffraw and parts of Gwalchmai and Bodorgan whether or not more affordable housing needs to be provided for local people.

“We’re encouraging people from within a 6km radius of Bryn Du to register their need for new affordable housing.”

Working with Anglesey County Council and Llanfaelog Community Council, the housing enabler is keen to promote the event at Llanfaelog and to encourage people to attend.

“An open day of this nature gives people who may not be on housing lists, the opportunity to express their needs within the locality. Local people, who have lived and worked in the area for at least five years, or people who have connections with the area, should all come forward to express their housing needs,” explains Dylan Owen.

Working in partnership with the Welsh Government, local authorities and housing associations, rural housing enablers are able to glean local information regarding locations within rural communities where there is evidence of new affordable homes needed for tenants.

Dylan Roberts, Regeneration Services Director at Grŵp Cynefin said: “As a housing association, we are always on the lookout for new potential development sites to accommodate local people who are in need of a home. Grŵp Cynefin is keen to create quality homes suitable for rural areas in all parts of North Wales’

“We have a potential new development site next to our current homes in Stad y Felin, Bryn Du, and we’re keen to find out whether local people are looking for energy efficient homes with private gardens and ample parking.”

Dylan Owen concluded: “This is an opportunity for people to voice their opinion, and seek answers to any questions they may have about a new housing development here on Anglesey. I would urge anyone with an interest to visit Llanfaelog Village Hall between 3:30pm and 6:30pm on Wednesday afternoon, 4 of December to learn and understand more.”

For further information, please contact the Rural Housing Enablers on 01286 889292 or email HTG@grwpcynefin.org

Plan now to avoid Christmas rent stress

However, it is just as important to ensure that you continue to keep up with rent payments to avoid falling into arrears.

Putting a plan in place can help relieve some of the stress associated with the Christmas and new year period and will help you to manage your budget accordingly, including funds to cover direct debit payments – if this is your chosen method.

It is also important to be aware of when you usually make payments and any potential paypoint outlet closures that may require you to pay at a different time.

Our staff are also on hand to assist you all year round to avoid problems in paying rent.

We understand the hurdles of getting by on a limited budget and are ready to help when things seem difficult. Contact your housing officer, please don’t ignore our effort to contact you. We are able to support you and check entitlements to ensure that you receive the benefits you are eligible for. Alternatively, access our online benefit calculator by clicking here .

It is vital that you act quickly and inform us when issues do arise as legal action could be taken against you, if we can’t make contact with you to discuss your concerns and agree how you pay your rent.

Tenants who may be struggling with other financial issues can also seek advice and support through expert debt support at Citizens Advice or other specialist agencies. Expert advisers like this can help you and contact the companies you owe: banks, catalogues, loan companies, door-step collectors and so on, and should be able to arrange for you to make smaller payments until you are back on top of things.

So, every time you shop or go online, stop and think: can I afford this, not do I want to buy it? Your friends and family don’t want you to go into debt to buy them excess food or gifts for Christmas.

Make sure your money will go as far as possible. Look for tips on better ways to shop and other ideas from reliable resources, such as moneysavingexpert.com

Plan ahead now to ensure Christmas remains the most wonderful time of year and to avoid arrears coming down the chimney this festive season.

Useful links

Citizens Advice - https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/wales/

National Debtline - https://www.nationaldebtline.org

Money Advice Service - https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en

StepChange Debt Charity - https://www.stepchange.org

Grŵp Cynefin strengthens its housing team

All four have taken up their posts over the past few months, and are getting to know, chat and visit tenants within their specific areas.

Meleri Williams, 26, is from Bala in Gwynedd; Awel Morris, 38, was born in Powys, whilst Catrin Lois Roberts, 32, is originally from Trawsfynydd. The housing society’s fourth new officer is Rhys Edwards, 31 from Bala. Awel, Catrin and Rhys have been appointed as Housing Officers, whilst Meleri is a Welfare Officer for Grŵp Cynefin.

All four officers have differing backgrounds, but they all say that being able to work for an organisation who has a reputation as a fair employer to the 246 staff at Grŵp Cynefin has been important to them.

“I was fully aware that Grŵp Cynefin had a good reputation locally, had a great team working for the organisation and that terms and condition of employment were good. It was also important for me to be able to work locally through the medium of Welsh,” explains Catrin Lois Roberts who lives with her young family in Frongoch, near Bala.

“As a mother of three young children, the opportunity to work part-time was also very important so that I had a good balance between family and professional life.

“I really enjoy the work, I’m getting to know the tenants and the area, and I am able to be on hand to offer advice or guidance to people in difficulty or with problems - making the job worthwhile.

Catrin had a background in local government, while Meleri Williams graduated in psychology from Bangor University before taking up her post as an assistant psychologist for children and young people in the Wrexham area.

“It was time for a change and I wanted to work closer to home through the medium of Welsh. No day is ever the same here,” explains Meleri who works as a Welfare Officer supporting tenants who need support with their income or protecting their welfare benefits.

“I spend half my time in the office and half my time out visiting tenants in their homes. Some struggle with their benefits, some are unwell and others have disabilities which make life difficult.

“I can offer tenants practical support with paperwork, involve other agencies to improve their quality of life at home and challenge any inconsistencies in support from the Department for Work and Pensions.”

Grŵp Cynefin was no stranger to Awel Morris, who has worked for the housing association for two years.

“I worked as a Communications Officer and saw the opportunity to develop my skills and move into the Housing Department. I enjoy being amidst people, chatting with tenants, offering them support and travelling the area visiting tenants in their homes who may need some extra support.

“I really enjoy working with people, so this job is ideal because I’m in the midst of people at work on a daily basis. It’s a part-time job that gives me the best balance of working, earning a salary and spending time with family.”

Rhys Edwards decided to change his career path, joining Grŵp Cynefin after a number of years working a police officer.

Rhys Edwards
Rhys Edwards

“I was ready for a new challenge and saw the job advertised on the web. After a period working as a police officer, and the news that we had a child on the way, it was time to change careers to ensure more flexible working hours around the new family unit. “I work within Conwy and part of Denbigh, and I’m also responsible for the older tenants of Denbigh. I really enjoy the work; no two days are the same. Grŵp Cynefin has a close family-knit atmosphere. I’ve been warmly welcomed as part of the team and that is credit to everyone who works here.”

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin’s Chief Executive, said: “The backbone of every good organisation is its staff. We pride ourselves on having a dedicated, talented team of staff, who have great ambitions and aim high. We are pleased to welcome the new officers and wish them all the best in their roles.

“The fundamental principle of Grŵp Cynefin is more than housing, and our professional colleagues are the ones that drive this work forward. Thank you very much for your consistent and dedicated work supporting people and communities with their housing needs.”

For further information about jobs within Grŵp Cynefin, click here

“I don’t think I’d be in work now if it wasn’t for Grŵp Cynefin”

The Steps to Employment grant helps people who may need support meeting costs to get in to work or assistance in getting back into employment. Up to £300 is awarded to eligible applicants as part of Grŵp Cynefin’s commitment as an organisation to deliver More than Housing.

Ceri Coleman, 47, accessed the grant to develop her outdoor training skills while attending Plas Heli sailing centre.

She said: “It all started around five years ago when I joined Plas Heli to do paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing and the course really helped to build up my confidence.

“I became more disciplined and it really stepped up from that. It has also built self-esteem and confidence, and that’s what I used it for, to build my character back up.

“I was in contact with Grŵp Cynefin and they told me about the grant available, encouraging me to use it – how fantastic is that?”

Ceri, from Trefor, Gwynedd, is now working in retail on a part time basis and said the support she received through the Steps to Employment grant has been vital.

She added: “The grant really helped me develop my confidence and made me feel like I was ready to go back into work. Going to Plas Heli really changed me and I did things there I didn’t think were possible.

“Grŵp Cynefin has been really helpful which has been brilliant for me. It’s been amazing and I don’t think I’d be in work now if it wasn’t for Grŵp Cynefin. The team has given me constant support and has kept in touch even though I’m in work now.”
Carrie Williams read about the Steps to Employment grant online and contacted Grŵp Cynefin to help her daughter Ella, 20, through the process to support her photography.

Carrie said: “They got in touch with Ella to let her know what the grant could help her with including clothes for interviews, business materials and photography equipment.

“She’s used it advertise her business on social media and set up a website, and earlier this year got a job which she hopes to invest her funds into her photography venture.

“The grant helped her go on to get the things she needed to progress the business and she’s really enjoying working too.”

Carrie hailed the impact the grant had on Ella and praised Grŵp Cynefin for its support.

She added: “It’s been brilliant, helping to get the information out there and letting people know the business is there. She was really struggling and felt a bit stuck, so it was really great to get that support to get things like the clothes for interviews.

“It was amazing for her confidence after struggling with her health. She’s definitely a lot happier and it’s been a real boost for her.

“Grŵp Cynefin has been great, touching base regularly, particularly when Ella wasn’t well. They’ve been really supportive, and I’ve recommended this to others.”

Ieuan Davies, Grŵp Cynefin employment and training officer, said: “Grŵp Cynefin offers more than housing to our tenants and would encourage those seeking assistance or support to get back into work to get in touch to see how we can help you.”

Youth Shedz grant funding supports homelessness and film making projects

Youth Shedz, developed by 16 to 25-year-olds, was set up two years ago to support former homeless young people and is run by Grŵp Cynefin’s support service, Gorwel.

Driven and developed by the young people themselves, the homeless grant funding will be used to design and create care packs for homeless people in Denbighshire. Based on some of their own personal experiences, the youngsters will prepare packs that include sleeping bags, toiletries, hygiene goods, food, socks, hats and gloves ready to be distributed in the area.

A ‘Soup and Socks’ project that supports homeless people in Conwy, will now also visit Denbighshire, and the youth shedz members, known as shedderz were keen to support the project on their own doorstep by creating the care packs ready to be distributed locally.

Youth Shedz mentor, Scott Jenkinson explains: “The Soup and Socks service offers a weekly support visit once a week, which includes a drop in session, care packs and practical advice and support. The Youth Shedz youngsters have, themselves found themselves in similar situations, so were keen to put these specially created packs together to distribute as part of the project.”

Youth Shedz supports vulnerable young people build their confidence and gain employability skills and transformed a former garage in Denbigh into a Youth Shedz hub.

Its members lead on all decisions relating to the scheme’s development, and engage in activities including woodwork and bike repairs. Now, more Youth Shedz have been established in Abergele, Colwyn Bay, and Kinmel Bay, with its growth a measure of its success.

Scott Jenkinson explains: “The second grant allocated to the group is testimony to the way individuals have developed and flourished as part of the work that they do here. We have a keen video and film maker in the group, and he was keen to further his abilities, by purchasing professional editing equipment to develop his skill set.

“As part of their journey, the youngsters have been creating short films capturing their journeys as individuals and as a group. They give an insight to what Youth Shedz is all about, and how it could possibly, assist other young people watching the videos who struggle with homelessness, sofa surfing and other issues.

“Youth Shedz is a fully fledged non-profit organisation, and thanks to Grŵp Cynefin, it continues to help the younger generation stay out of trouble and off the streets.”

Grant funding for both projects was awarded via a Denbighshire youth led grant from Denbighshrie Voluntary Services Council (DVCS) and funders include: DVSC, Welsh Government and Volunteering Wales.

Building dubbed ‘Historical Footnote’ starts new chapter

In its heyday, Meliden’s goods shed was a key stopping place on the Dyserth to Prestatyn railway line serving both the mining and tourist trades. The shed, on the Dyserth and Prestatyn walkway, eventually closed in 1957 and reopened briefly over the years, notably as an undertaker and a taxi rank.

But now it has been brought back to life, putting the Grade II building firmly back into the heart of the village community.

Spearheaded by charitable housing association Grŵp Cynefin and Meliden Residents Action group, the building now provides opportunities for up-and-coming businesses, artists and crafters.

Mair Edwards, Grŵp Cynefin’s community initiatives manager, said: “The response to Y Shed has been phenomenal. It is beyond anything we could have hoped for. The aim was always to find a way to ensure this old building worked for the community. Having stood empty for so long, transforming the goods shed in a way which brings it up-to-date but also acknowledges Meliden’s rich and varied history is a real achievement.

“The village action group had the vision to make this happen, and we are only too pleased to have been able to support them and turn dreams into reality.”

Inside the main building, themed to tie in with the local landscape, is Caffi Y Shed, run by sisters Jane Roberts and Rachel Roberts, display spaces for crafters, a history exhibition, an electronic mining game aimed at helping children understand what life was like in the lead mine days, and a meeting room. A wide range of artists including ceramists, jewellers, woodturners, card and jewellery makers occupy display spaces. Workshops, events and activities will be run from Y Shed in the future.

Four converted shipping containers have also been added to the building to help business start-ups. They are home to dog groomers Bowwow’s Dog Company, health and wellbeing specialist Bella Bay, local artist Susie Liddle, and The Craft Hub which sells a range of locally made gifts.

Denbighshire County Councillor Peter Evans, a member of the Meliden Residents’ Action Group, said Y Shed was unlike anything locally.

“For a village of Meliden’s size to have a venture like this - a vibrant, exciting, beautifully designed space - shows what is possible when people put their minds to it. A derelict building has been turned into something which offers business openings, supports the local economy, creates jobs and volunteering opportunities, provides a platform for the creative industries and is an educational resource for local schools.

“This is the sort of place you’d usually find in a large town or city, not in a quiet corner of a Welsh village. Everyone who has been involved, whether in researching the history, raising funds, or championing the cause should be justifiably proud of what has been achieved. Getting Y Shed off the ground has been a team effort. This old building is no longer a historical footnote but heralds the start of a bright new chapter for the economy and people of Meliden.”

Prestatyn to Dyserth Way

The Prestatyn to Dyserth Way opened as a three-mile railway from the Chester and Holyhead railway in 1869 and served the mineral trade largely transporting lead and limestone. A passenger service began in 1905 between Dyserth and Prestatyn with 30,000 people using it each year. The shed closed in 1957 and reopened briefly as a business premises before closing again. The railway itself ran until 1972. Funding for Y Shed was secured from the Big Lottery Fund Wales, Denbighshire County Council, Gwynt y Mor, and trust funds.

Intergenerational work expands to Llanaelhaearn and Y Ffôr near Pwllheli

Over the past year, Grŵp Cynefin has worked in partnership with Bangor University, Gwynedd Council and CADR (Centre for Ageing & Dementia Research) as well as primary schools to close the gap between older people and children in various projects under the title of Intergenerational project.

Following a successful conference back in April to discuss intergenerational research and good practice with its partners, and a number of visits and special sessions between older residents and young children at Grŵp Cynefin’s extra care housing schemes, staff at the society is keen to expand the project further. They are keen that other communities benefit from the positive experiences. Small bursaries, worth £300, have been set up to distribute to specific projects seeking financial support to reach older people.

Antur Aelhaearn in Llanaelhaearn is one of the successful projects and they are keen to establish an intergenerational garden, whilst at Y Ffôr, Pwllheli the ‘Lleisiau’r Llwyn’ scheme by Hafod Hedd, a day care unit for people with dementia also celebrated receiving financial support.

Edwin Humphreys, the co ordinator based at Hafod Hedd said: “We have been working with local primary schools for some time to raise awareness of the issues surrounding dementia, giving pupils the opportunity to meet and work creatively with older people. The hope is to reduce the stigma attached to this complex medical issue.

“As part of Lleisiau’r Llwyn, we are working with the pupils of Ysgol Bro Plennydd in Y Ffôr to recreate an old record by the local sixties pop group names ‘Lleisiau’r Llwyn’. There is a specific link with a number of former band members and we have been re-recording four well-known songs with everyone, which can help to stimulate the mood of that era for many of the individual dementia day care attendees.”

The grant from Grŵp Cynefin has enabled the project to create copies of the CD plus design a new photo cover of the individuals who are participating in the new CD.

An outdoor environmental project will also benefit from the second bursary at Llanaelhaearn. Antur Aelhaearn has given residents of Bryn Meddyg care home and Dwyfor Day Care Services the opportunity to work with the children of Ysgol Gynradd Llanaelhaearn to create an organic vegetable garden.

“It’s part of Antur Aelhaearn’s ethos to promote the learning of new skills and improve facilities in the village,” explains Mari Lloyd Ireland, a member of Antur Aelhaearn. “So, working with both generations brought much of the community together and gave us the opportunity to raise awareness about dementia amongst the next generation.

“We have been able to purchase garden tools, trees and plants, seeds and material such as gloves, forks and small shovels for use in the garden. Turning a piece of waste land in the village into a place where older people and children can come together to socialise and take part in practical gardening activities is very positive. We are very grateful to Grŵp Cynefin for the support.”

The other three projects that have benefited from the bursaries are:

• Conwy Community Well-being Team and its project: Wee ones meeting wise ones

• Morlo Nursery and its project: Morlo Intergenerational Summer project

• Fairways Nursing Home and its project: Growing Together

Mair Edwards, Grŵp Cynefin’s community enterprise manager, said: “We now have evidence that intergenerational work is improving people’s wellbeing and reducing resident loneliness. Therefore, expanding the work we’ve done over the last few months with groups in other communities is worth it.

“Through communication with children, older people feel less isolated and succeed in doing things they wouldn’t normally do. Sharing our experience and supporting other rural communities to take advantage of intergenerational projects confirms our principles of offering residents in North Wales more than just housing.”

At the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst in August, cheques were presented to the two successful projects by broadcaster Beti George, an ambassador for dementia care.

Construction of landmark extra care housing scheme boosts local jobs and training opportunities

In addition, four fifths of subcontractor and major supplier appointments have been within 30 miles of the £12m Awel y Dyffryn complex, now under construction in Denbigh for Grŵp Cynefin housing association.

Local apprentices and other trainees now learning about careers in construction, are also benefiting from the development of the 66-apartment town centre scheme for older people.

To date, 550 weeks of training have been carried out on site, while numerous school visits and site open days have also taken place.

Trainees benefiting from the work experience include undergraduate contracts managers, and a number of bricklaying apprentices from Llandrillo College. Located on the site of the derelict former Middle Lane School, Awel y Dyffryn is due for completion in mid-2020.

It is being developed by local contractor, R L Davies, of Colwyn Bay.

Grŵp Cynefin Regeneration Services Director, Dylan Roberts, said: “It is always a priority of Grŵp Cynefin to make sure that as many benefits as possible from our investments filter through to local people and businesses.

“At Awel y Dyffryn, I’m especially pleased with the high proportion of local jobs created through the appointment of so many local subcontractors and suppliers.

“It’s also particularly pleasing that our main contractor, R L Davies of Colwyn Bay, has done so much work with colleges of further education, and is ensuring that a good range of training opportunities are being taken up by local students.

“We are really pleased with the results of their work so far regarding community benefits.”

R L Davies commercial manager Delyth Davies said: “We are committed to ensuring that as many local residents benefit from such a big investment in the heart of Denbigh. It’s rewarding to know that so many people who live in the local community are getting work experience, and winning sub-contracts, at Awel y Dyffryn.”

The scheme will meet the needs of older people who want to live independently in their own homes, but with care and support available 24 hours, if needed.

Preference for tenancies will be given to Denbighshire residents aged 60 and over.

Tenants will be able to access shared facilities including a restaurant; activities room; communal lounges; landscaped gardens and laundry.

Extra benefits on offer will include intergenerational events to tackle loneliness together with other social and leisure activities.

Awel y Dyffryn is Grŵp Cynefin’s fifth extra care scheme, and its second in Denbighshire. Its other, long-established, schemes are located in Bala, Holyhead, Ruthin and Porthmadog.

Its accommodation will comprise 42 two-bedroom and 24 one-bedroom apartments.

Awel y Dyffryn is a joint project between Grŵp Cynefin and Denbighshire County Council, with financial support from the Welsh Government.

Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire County Council Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said: “Awel y Dyffryn is great example of partnership working and the Council is pleased to be involved with this project.

“The scheme will provide accommodation to support older people to live independently and reduce the need for residential care, which is a priority for the Council under our Corporate Plan.

“Ensuring the benefits of projects like this stay in the local area and help grow the local economy and create jobs is something we can all be proud of.”

Noela Jones, Head of Housing Services at Grŵp Cynefin, added: “We’re keen to share the message if residents are interested in applying for an apartment at Awel y Dyffryn and want to have a confidential conversation about whether they can afford the rent and service charge, we’d urge you to please get in touch with us and we can offer you support and advice in maximising your income.”

Cuckooing is happening in North Wales

County lines is a term used to describe gangs, groups or drug networks that supply drugs from urban such as Manchester or Liverpool to suburban areas across the country, including market and coastal towns of North Wales, using dedicated mobile phone lines or “deal lines”. They exploit children and vulnerable adults to move the drugs and money to and from the urban area, and to store the drugs in local markets. They will often use intimidation, violence and weapons, including knives, corrosives and firearms.

Often the young people/ vulnerable adults that are exploited to deliver drugs have similar circumstances/ backgrounds and can include:

• Drug addicts/ drugs debts / drug experimentation (in younger children)

• Alcoholics or under-age drinking

• Mental health problems or learning difficulties

• In a relationship or friendship with a gang member

• Come from deprived backgrounds or broken families

• Young people who often go missing form home

• Young people who frequently skip school

• Looked after children/ under social services


Who are the victims?

The victims can be anyone in your community – they can be as young as 10 or as old as 90 – criminal gangs exploit vulnerability in all its forms

• Young people may become trapped through experimental drug use or mixing with the wrong crowd and the building up of a drug debt

• Once in debt to a dealer they will be encouraged to sell drugs to pay the debt off

• The gang will ensure the debt is never fully paid off and the victim can quickly become trapped in a cycle where their only option is to commit further crime

• The more crime they commit the less likely they are to tell someone what is happening or seek help

• They will be dispatched to travel to other parts of the country where they are not known to police or social services and can essentially fly under the radar

• During this time away from home they are highly at risk of coming to further harm at the hands of people they are dealing to or rival local drug dealers

• Older people may become exploited to also traffic drugs, weapons and cash but additionally their homes night get taken over by gangs needing somewhere to hide drugs or deal from

• Adults with mental or physical disabilities, adults with addictions or adults who are particularly elderly may suffering ‘cuckooing’ where a gang take over their home

• Other victims include the relatives of the exploited person who ‘lose’ their loved one to a criminal gang, and the communities where the drug dealing and associated violence is exported to

What are the signs?

In children, signs they are a victim of criminal exploitation can be:

• going missing from home or absent from school without explanation;

• mixing with new friends their parents don’t know;

• experimental drug use, often cannabis;

• having more than one mobile phone;

• appearing nervous/scared/evasive/secretive;

• suffering injuries they can’t explain; having tickets for train or coach travel

In adults, signs of ‘cuckooing’ can include:

• a loved one or neighbour not being seen for some time;

• unknown visitors and vehicles to their house at unusual times;

• exchanges of cash or packages outside their home;

• open drug use in the street; damage and degradation to the appearance of their home;

• a change in their own personality or behaviour e.g. used to say ‘hi’, now appears nervous/worried/intimidated

If you suspect it is occurring where they live they should pick up the phone and call North Wales Police on 101, or 999 if a crime is in action, or you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

More information on the Crimestoppers County Lines campaign can be found here

Winning poet awarded Grŵp Cynefin’s crown

29 entries were received in the competition to create a sequence of non-cynghanedd poems, with no more than 250 lines, on the topic of Cilfachau (inlets). The judges were Manon Rhys, Ceri Wyn Jones and Cen Williams.

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin’s Chief Executive, said: “This is the pinnacle of our work as crown sponsors this year, and we are proud of Guto Dafydd’s success as he receives this beautiful crown.

“For Angela Evans, the jewellery designer we chose as a housing association to design and create the crown, this story comes full circle, as we pass the beautiful prize into the hands of the winning bard. We are grateful to her and the Eisteddfod for their work and support. It has been great to work together to convey the basic principles of our work, more than houses, in such a beautiful piece of art.

There are three key elements to the Crown’s design, with three layers of metal outline creating an exciting and modern image linked to the basic principles of Grŵp Cynefin. It is wonderful to see the completed Crown and we are grateful to Angela for all her work.”

Shapes of stylish houses form the first tier of the Crown, but they are, of course, more than houses. These are home to the people and families of the area.

Welsh culture is maintained through our communities: in these homes the local people, the Welsh language and the culture thrives. This is the basis of the Crown, the tallest and strongest part.”

Triangles appear in the second tier, a shape with natural strength, representing the roofs of houses, supporting structures against lateral pressures, and representing the sustainability of the area. And to crown each pinnacle is a copper ball, a renowned characteristic of Angela’s work as a professional jeweller.

The copper originates from the old Great Orme copper mines in Llandudno, and a 2cm cube of pure bright copper was presented to the Eisteddfod in order that Angela could make use of it as a decorative element on the Crown.

The third tier is the county of Conwy, the rural valley and the densely populated coast. The glow that flows through the mountains down the valley and into the sea through the River Conwy is water: it brings its nutrition as an essential container to create a thriving community, environment and landscape, and to ensure a strong habitat for man and animal. Therefore, the flow of water seen in the last layer, is a smooth soft arch to convey the movement of the flow. Along its length, there are droplets of bright water created from a blue coloured topas stone as it simulates the colours of Grŵp Cynefin’s recognisable brand.

The Gorsedd of Bards’ Nod Cyfrin, its unique mark, is on the front of the Crown, under the main shape of the roof of the house, which is set to protect it. And at the bottom of the Crown, the words Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Sir Conwy 2019 have been inscribed.

“Congratulations again to the winning bard, Guto Dafydd,” said Shan Lloyd Williams.

The Conwy County National Eisteddfod will be held on the outskirts of Llanrwst until 10 August. For more information go online, www.eisteddfod.wales.

A special thank you to Grŵp Cynefin for supporting tenants in need

That is the response of a Llanrwst gentleman who celebrates 30 years this year as a tenant in Grŵp Cynefin’s homes.

And Dafydd Jones, 73, and his wife Sarah, are keen to raise awareness to other tenants of the support available to them, from asking Grŵp Cynefin.

“My health was deteriorating and it was financially difficult for a short time. The best thing we did was pick up the phone to Grŵp Cynefin for a chat.

“At the association’s housing group meeting, we became aware that support was available. A lovely welfare officer, Elin, came to Llys Henar, here in Llanrwst, for a chat and looked at our circumstances.”

Dafydd suffers from a number of health conditions that affect each other, which means he becomes extremely tired at times during the day, his muscles tighten and lock which in turn limits his ability to get out and about.

“To ensure that we have a good quality of life, I have learnt to listen to the body, and to rest two or three times during the day, to be able to move and do some things between the bouts of weakness. You learn to cope, but I’m very fortunate in comparison to many people! ”

He also suffers from diabetes, but he is determined not to let his health problems take over his life.

“We have to live for the moment and enjoy as you can, Sarah and I have reached a special milestone this year, our pearl wedding anniversary, so we’ll have to celebrate!” explains Dafydd with a smile.

From the initial conversation and research by Elin, the welfare officer, it was found that more health benefits were available to Dafydd, disability grab rails were arranged and placed in the bathroom and a Disability Blue Badge was registered for the car to ensure that shopping trips and visits were made so much easier.

“We can’t thank Elin enough, she has brought us both peace of mind and comfort in a time when life had been difficult for us.”

Rhiannon Dafydd, Grŵp Cynefin’s Housing Manager responsible for the team of welfare officers, said: “I am proud of the officers’ work, the team of four work very hard to support tenants, some in challenging periods in their lives.

During the past year, the welfare team saw 278 tenants for the first time and offered them support with a wide range of cases. The work of the officers has ensured that nearly £1 million of money indebted to Grŵp Cynefin tenants has been paid to them between 2018 and 2019.”

Grŵp Cynefin Welfare Officers can assist tenants to access Foodbank services, Hardship Fund, Housing Benefits, Welfare Rights, Tax Credit, various charities offering financial support eg redundancy; Council Tax Reductions, Pension Credit, Disability Living Allowance, Universal Credit, Blue Badge, Care and Repair plus more.

To contact the team at Grŵp Cynefin or for further information and support, please call 0300 111 2122 and request the welfare officers team.

Grŵp Cynefin hopes for crowning glory at Conwy!

The crown will not only be the housing association’s artistic artefact during the week, as Saturday 3 of August, sees the unveiling of two special murals created by the children and friends of Perthi housing estate at Llanrwst as part of a joint project with Arts and Business Cymru.

The Children’s Poet for Wales, Casia Wiliam and a talented Conwy Valley artist, Eleri Jones have been working with primary school children, in art workshop sessions on the Grŵp Cynefin housing estate in the weeks leading up to the Eisteddfod.

“It has been a lovely process working with the children,” explains Eleri Jones who is a self-employed artist and is experienced in running arts workshops with children and young people across Wales.

“I promote a particular technique when working with children, where they create pictures following discussion and research, and then I create stencils of their drawings, so we achieve a clear composition at the end. The technique also slows the minds of the children into creating, as they are normally full of energy like busy bees! It gives the creative process time to develop.

“What has become apparent to Casia and myself whilst working with the children and friends of Perthi housing estate is how influential being outdoors is in their minds. In this modern digital era, it is a breath of fresh air to hear that the park, a piece of grassland on the estate, the town’s shops are big influences in the children’s daily lives. We were delighted to hear that ‘her wall’ was a favourite place for one of the younger children we’ve worked with.”

During the week, we look forward to seeing the influences of Llanrwst on the lives of the children through poetry and imagery within the murials on Grŵp Cynefin’s Eisteddfod stand.

There will be an opportunity for children and young people to decorate their own crowns on the stand during Monday, the official crowning of the bard day; and then on Tuesday between 1 and 2 o’clock in the afternoon the designer herself, Angela Evans, will visit us in a Question and Answer session where we will learn more about her vision and inspiration for this year’s crown design.

A well-known voice and recognisable face from the BBC, Beti George, a dementia care ambassador will join us on Wednesday to present the Grŵp Cynefin bursary cheques as part of the Older People’s Conference held in support of Bangor University earlier this year. The theme of the day will be Intergenerational Day to celebrate our work during the year supporting older tenants within our extra care homes. It is a celebration of the success seen in our older tenants mood, health, well-being and social skills whilst working with children from primary schools in our areas.

The small bursaries will help spread the good work and encourage other organisations to follow the positive pattern of linking children and young people with older people across north Wales. The well-known psychologist, Catrin Hedd from Bangor University will be joining visitors to our stand during the afternoon to host intergenerational activities and to share her experience of working with Grŵp Cynefin on the scheme during the year.

Young people will be the focus of Thursday afternoon, as a rural housing event is hosted to between 1 and 2 o’clock. The Young Farmers Clubs’ Association will be working with Grŵp Cynefin to encourage their members from across Eryri and Clwyd to come along and discuss concerns about housing shortages and the affordability of homes for young people in the countryside.

A native of Conwy County, the composer and performer Arwel Lloyd, Gildas will be entertaining visitors following the YFC event between 2 and 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Originally from Llansannan, Arwel studied History at University before developing his music ineterests. Arwel is a teacher in Carmarthenshire, but is also a guitarist for Al Lewis Band and is a well established solo artist. Arwel’s historical background inspired him in naming ‘Gildas’, in memory of the Welsh monk of the same name who pilgrimaged throughout Wales in the 6th century cataloging the events of the day in his works. It will be worth coming along to hear Gildas’ melodic tunes on Thursday afternoon.

Between 10am and 12:00 on Friday, Community Housing Cymru will raise awareness of the skills, opportunities and experiences needed to work within the housing sector in Wales. Face painting will also be available for the younger children during the afternoon.

Throughout the week there will be an opportunity to make smoothies on the special smoothie bike!

Remember to pop in for a cuppa and a chat, a warm welcome will be waiiting for you on the Grŵp Cynefin stand (515-517) all week.

Chloe and Jade set to represent Wales at Homeless World Cup

Chloe Byrne, 18, and Jade Winder, 25, will be hoping to secure glory for Wales when the tournament, which is being held at Cardiff’s Bute Park, kicks off on Saturday July 27.

Both ladies live in Yr Hafod, supported accommodation in Denbigh, which is run by Gorwel, a business unit within Grŵp Cynefin housing association.

The duo were picked to be in the eight-person squad after impressing at trials and have been travelling to South Wales for weekly training ahead of the World Cup.

And for Chloe and Jade, the thrill of playing in the tournament has provided wider benefits and is also an opportunity to deliver key messages about homelessness.

Chloe, who is originally from Prestatyn, said: “I have lived in Yr Hafod for six months. I experienced domestic abuse in the family, and when my nan died I was homeless.

“Gorwel has been really good and provided lots of support with things such as budgeting money, cooking, improving my well-being, and training to learn new skills.

“We would also like to thank Gemma Donnellan Thomas who works for Gorwel for travelling with us to training every week in Newport and Cardiff.

“I hope the tournament shines a positive light on homelessness and the support that is available across the country. My advice to anyone who is or about to be homeless is to get all the help you can, listen to what is being said, and don’t give up.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing football and used to play for Rhyl and Prestatyn Ladies FC in defence. It’s really exciting to be playing in the World Cup and the aim is to win it!”

Jade, who spent much of her childhood in Colwyn Heights, added: “I only started playing football three months ago, and now I’m about to play in the World Cup!

“That’s all because of the staff at Yr Hafod. They encouraged me to attend the trials and I got selected. It’s another example of them supporting you beyond providing somewhere to live.

“I still remember arriving and the friendly welcome I received. At the time I was depressed and angry and turning to drink after the death of my mum and nan in the space of two years. Gorwel has been amazing for me and others like me.

“Off the pitch, my teammates have helped me with things like cooking: one of them taught me to make pasta, cheese and beans and it’s my favourite!

“On the pitch, we’re going to win the World Cup and I hope we knock England out!”

The 17th Homeless World Cup will see 500 players from 50 countries take part in 4-a-side matches, and, as hosts, Wales will play in the opening game.

Chloe and Jade will continue their footballing journey when they join Trefnant Ladies FC after the World Cup.

Osian Elis, assistant manager at Gorwel, said: “The commitment shown by Chloe and Jade has been amazing. This is completely out of their comfort zone and it’s challenged them mentally and physically with the trials followed by weekly training in Cardiff.

“They are an inspiration.”

Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire County Council’s lead member for Well-being and Independence, said: “Denbighshire County Council’s Homelessness Prevention Team works closely with Grŵp Cynefin and are joint commissioners of the project which supported Jade and Chloe as well as other young people who are threatened with homelessness.

“The team is providing financial support to enable them to participate in the World Cup and the Council wishes them the best of luck.”

Gorwel provides services to support individuals and families suffering domestic abuse and those at risk of losing their homes, as well as works to prevent homelessness.

The tournament is split into a mixed-sex competition as well as a women’s only event. The teams have been selected by the local national partners who support football-based programmes and social enterprise development around the world.

The two Welsh teams consist of players aged between 17 and 43, all of whom have been homeless in the last year. They were recruited by Street Football Wales, a charity which promotes social inclusion through football. For more information visit https://homelessworldcup.org/

Grŵp Cynefin calls on working tenants to access new qualifications

Two members of staff - an energy officer and an administrator at Grŵp Cynefin have paved the way in this working initiative, where staff are given the opportunity to gain National Vocational Qualifications, NVQs, or as they are now called, Qualification and Credit Frame, QCF accreditation.

Ieuan Davies, Employment and Training Officer at Grŵp Cynefin said: “The initiative has proved very successful with our staff members who have recently completed a Level 2 and Level 3 NVQ qualification in Business and Administration.

“Working with Arfon Dwyfor Training, the Level 2, 3 and 4 NVQs through Grŵp Cynefin are all available free of charge, to those who want to learn.

“The seven members of staff currently working towards their qualifications are carrying out the majority of their tasks during their working days.

These qualifications are gained through employment based training and support, making the development a fundamental part of their day to day roles.

Ieuan Davies who works in partnership with Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and Arfon Dwyfor Training to deliver courses said: “We are keen to open the door to working tenants because the qualifications have been so well received from the staff members who have been working towards them.

“If any Grŵp Cynefin tenants who are in employment are keen to develop their qualification opportunities, then please get in touch with myself Ieuan.Davies@grwpcynefin.org or call 0300 111 2122 and ask for me, Ieuan Davies, Employment and Training Officer.

“NVQ modules include customer care, business administration, management, team leader, advice or leadership. Those interested would be assessed at the outset to determine which level NVQ would be most suited to their abilities.”

Tenants or staff keen to study the Level 4 NVQ need to have a degree or a qualification on a par to degree level to begin the Level 4 NVQ training. The delivery teams can support and administrate the training across Grŵp Cynefin’s working area - north Wales and north Powys

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Grŵp Cynefin and its tenants secure double awards success

Grŵp Cynefin claimed first place at the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) Wales Cymru awards held in Cardiff, in the young tenant of the year and the community action categories.

Keira George was recognised for her successful journey from being made homeless to being a key influence in the housing association’s Youth Shedz project and studying for a hairdressing qualification.

The 21-year-old lives in Grŵp Cynefin’s Yr Hafod development, a supported housing project for six young people aged 16 to 25 years old. The project delivers support activities to the young people in their accommodation, on site and in the community.

The second successful category which was the Community Action Award was awarded to Siop Griffiths, Penygroes. This project has seen a local community in Penygroes take an empty shop and turn it into a café, with a digital centre launching later in the year and tourist accommodation being introduced in early 2020. The accommodation will generate income to run the café and hire an employee.

Grŵp Cynefin supported the community group with grant applications and advise on developing the scheme into a self-sustainable business.

The awards, established more than 20 years ago, focus on the role tenants play in creating social housing communities.

Mair Edwards, community initiatives manager for Grŵp Cynefin, said: “Both award wins illustrate our commitment to ‘More Than Housing’, which underpins our vision to make a positive difference to lives and communities.

“Keira has proved that you can change course and direction if you’re not happy with your current situation. While Grŵp Cynefin provides the tools such as affordable homes and community projects including Youth Shedz, her attitude and positive outlook has been inspirational to make the most of the opportunities presented.

“The Siop Griffiths project is a fabulous story of not only breathing life into an empty shop but generating employment and digital support for the community. The group should be proud of their achievements and I hope it encourages others to seek support from us to help improve their communities.”

Youth Shedz was set up to support formerly homeless young people and is run by Grŵp Cynefin’s support service Gorwel.

Keira said: “To win is absolutely amazing and is the cherry on the top. This recognition shows it’s possible for people to improve their situation.

“For me personally, the biggest accomplishment is how far I’ve come and developed since moving into Yr Hafod. I was made homeless after living at home and after sofa-surfing for a few days, I moved into Yr Hafod in 2017.

“Grŵp Cynefin has provided me good opportunities to progress including the Youth Shedz project, and they have supported me with every decision I have made.

“I hope this award gives other young people the confidence to better themselves no matter their background.”

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin chief executive, said: “Our staff and tenants work tirelessly to make a positive difference in the community, and this award success is evidence of the amazing work they do.”

Families settle in at Bron Gwynedd, Bethel

Thanks to collaboration between Bethel Community Council, Gwynedd Council and Grŵp Cynefin, four 3 bedroom houses were developed on exempt land in Bron Gwynedd, Bethel, in order to assist local residents to ensure quality and comfortable homes in the area.

The work was part of Gwynedd Council’s development programme with the support of the Welsh Government’s social housing grant.

Developing the site was driven by a family building firm from Caernarfon, S.J. Burgess, and we fully appreciate their support on the project.

Pictured is one of the families who has moved to their new property in Bron Gwynedd: Llio Lois Herbert holding the key to her new home, with her mother Nicole Herbert in the background carrying her sibling, Theo Fensome, in her arms.

Pictured with the family are Gwyndaf Williams, Grŵp Cynefin Development Manager and our Chief Executive, Shan Lloyd Williams. Arwel Owen, Gwynedd Council’s Senior Housing Officer and Iola Morgan, Grŵp Cynefin Senior Housing Manager are stood to the right of Nicole Herbert.

Shan Lloyd Williams, Chief Executive of the housing association said: “Small developments like this, in a rural village make a big difference. It was great to come along to meet Nicol Herbert with the officers in order to see the difference a new house like this has on family life. Thanks to everyone who has worked with us on this development, and as always, our gratitude goes to our dedicated team of staff here at Grŵp Cynefin for their work.”

Best job ever - working with older tenants at Grŵp Cynefin

What was the highlight of Grŵp Cynefin’s People’s Tenants Day 2019?

• “Meeting old friends.”

• “The whole atmosphere and environment of the day.”

• “I’ve enjoyed all of it, roll on next year!”

• “A day out and meeting people I wouldn’t usually come across.”

• “Having the children here to sing, it’s lovely to hear the children taking part.”

• “The dementia film was very useful, as I have just been diagnosed with early dementia.”

• “Meeting Grŵp Cynefin staff.”

After all the organising, preparing and running around like headless chickens - there is no better praise or reward to us as staff members, seeing such a positive response in our older tenants’ questionnaires. It makes all the hard work and effort, worth every minute!

With nearly 60 older tenants taking part in our annual day, which is especially arranged for them, the Kinmel Manor Hotel, Abergele was ready for us. Tenants arrived from Bala, Ruthin, Holyhead and Porthmadog, the four towns that are home to our Extra Care schemes, in addition to our tenants who live independently in flats and houses in other north Wales or Powys towns.

‘Arts’ was the theme of the day, and tenants were given an opportunity to sample four workshops, one focusing on craft work; flower display; mindfulness and a creative drama workshop. Of course, the day started with a short presentation by our Chief Executive, Shan Lloyd Williams before everyone began to take part in the varied sessions. I had a personal insight into the mindfulness session, and I soon learnt some tips and advice about how to keep the mind and soul healthy!

Guest speaker of the day was Theatr Clwyd’s Director of Creative Engagement, Gwennan Mair, originally from Blaenau Ffestiniog. She shared with us some interesting facts about the work Theatr Clwyd does and offers to older people, including theatre work specifically for people dealing with dementia. The focus of the presentation concentrated on the opportunities that are available for older people to participate within the theatre. During the autumn, we will be working with Theatr Clwyd to offer drama sessions at Hwb Dinbych as part of our new ‘Social Prescription’ scheme. Look out for more details nearer the time on our website!

There was an opportunity after a wonderful lunch for everyone to explore the stalls that had attended the event and to gather information from TPAS Cymru (a tenant participation organisation), Versus Arthritis, Action on Hearing Loss, Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board and Age Cymru.

And the icing on the cake during the day was a visit from Ysgol Pen Barras school children who came over to perform with the older adults. Talk about singing - seeing the joy on tenants and children’s faces alike was pure gold! Fun and happiness - at times like this, I have the best job in the world! Talk about job satisfaction! Thank you all for making Grŵp Cynefin’s Older Tenants Day 2019 a wonderful event, yet again!

Hawys Roberts, Community Offcer, Community Initiatives Team

Reduce the risk of fires – and get a FREE Home Fire Safety Check

In days gone by, overheating chip pans were considered to be a top fire risk. Today, they still are, but have also been joined by newer risks, such as from overheating laptops or other electronic devices.

Here are some tips to help keep you, your family, and your home safe from fire.

And also discover how to take advantage of a free Home Fire Safety Check.

Electronic devices

  • An unattended laptop, tablet or other electronic device can overheat and set fire to furnishings. Don’t leave yours switched on and unattended, for example, on any soft furnishing such as a sofa or a duvet on your bed. Always charge your devices, including your phone on a solid base. Never charge your phone on or under your pillow.

Cooking

  • Take care when cooking: don’t have anything near the cooker that could catch fire. Use a timer to remind you to check whatever you’re cooking at regular intervals.

Open flames & heaters

Always use a fireguard. Don’t leave candles unattended in a room, or near anything that could catch fire.

Night-time routine

Every night, close internal doors and switch off appliances and unplug them. Keep a mobile phone and mobility aids close by.

Plan your escape route

Keep it clear of obstacles at all times. Make sure that everyone knows where it is. Keep your keys to the front door handy, though out of the way of burglars.

Also:

• Ensure you have a working smoke alarm – report any faults to Grŵp Cynefin

• Put cigarettes out properly and never smoke in bed

• Don’t overload plug sockets. Never use a socket if it is wet

• Store electric blankets flat or rolled up

All tenants are eligible for a free Home Fire Safety Check

North Wales Fire & Rescue Service officers will accompany you round every room in your property to make you aware of potential fire risks and advise you what to do to reduce or prevent them.

While all new Grŵp Cynefin tenants are referred for a safety check, existing tenants can ask for a free home fire safety check too.

Still unsure?

If you’re unsure about any aspect of safety in your home, contact your housing officer on 0300 111 2122.

Tumble Dryers

Some tumble dryers made by Whirlpool are being recalled. Please check the following websites to see if your tumble dryer is one of those affected:

Grŵp Cynefin unveil and present this year’s Crown to the National Eisteddfod

Grŵp Cynefin is this year’s Eisteddfod Crown sponsor and it has been designed and created by contemporary jeweller Angela Evans from Caernarfon. The creation of a Crown has always been Angela’s dream, and this year she has been given the opportunity to fulfil her ambition by creating a beautiful and delicate Crown.

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin Chief Executive said: “There are three key elements to the Crown’s design, with three layers of metal outline creating an exciting and modern image linked to the basic principles of Grŵp Cynefin. It is wonderful to see the completed Crown and we are grateful to Angela for all her work.”

Shapes of stylish houses form the first tier of the Crown, but they are, of course, more than houses. These are home to the people and families of the area.

Angela explains: “Our culture is maintained through our communities: in these homes our people, our language and our culture thrive. This is the basis of the Crown, the tallest and strongest part.”

“Our main principle as a housing association is to be able to offer quality homes within the rural communities of north Wales. But as an organisation it is not just about bricks and mortar. We are so proud of Angela’s work, and we are delighted that houses are appearing in the Crown design for the first time in the history of the Eisteddfod,” added Dafydd Lewis.

Triangles appear in the second tier, a shape with natural strength, representing the roofs of houses, supporting structures against lateral pressures, and representing the sustainability of the area. And to crown each pinnacle is a copper ball, a renowned characteristic of Angela’s work as a professional jeweller.

The copper originates from the old Great Orme copper mines in Llandudno, and a 2cm cube of pure bright copper was presented to the Eisteddfod in order that Angela could make use of it as a decorative element on the Crown.

The third tier is the county of Conwy, the rural valley and the densely populated coast. The glow that flows through the mountains down the valley and into the sea through the River Conwy is water: it brings its nutrition as an essential container to create a thriving community, environment and landscape, and to ensure a strong habitat for man and animal. Therefore, the flow of water seen in the last layer, is a smooth soft arch to convey the movement of the flow. Along its length, there are droplets of bright water created from a blue coloured topas stone as it simulates the colours of Grŵp Cynefin’s recognisable brand.

The Gorsedd of Bards’ Nod Cyfrin, its unique mark, is on the front of the Crown, under the main shape of the roof of the house, which is set to protect it. And at the bottom of the Crown, the words Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Sir Conwy 2019 have been inscribed.

The Crown is presented for a sequence of poems not in cynghanedd, of no more than 250 lines, on the subject of Cilfachau (inlets). The prize money is donated by John Arthur and Margaret Glyn Jones and the family, Llanrwst.

Dafydd Lewis concluded: “As with every Eisteddfod our hope is to see a winning poet wearing the Crown at the Eisteddfod ceremony on Monday 5 August at 16.30 in Llanrwst. We wish to thank everyone who has been involved in all the preparatory work.”

Gwynedd extra care facility having a positive impact on residents

Grŵp Cynefin’s Hafod y Gest development, which is located in the heart of the town and saw its first tenants arrive earlier this year, allows older people from the area to benefit from a new independent lifestyle facility in a safe community environment with flexible care services available.

Hafod y Gest consists of 26 two-bedroom and 14 one-bedroom apartments and is a partnership development between Gwynedd Council and Grŵp Cynefin developed by Anwyl Construction. It was part-funded by Welsh Government’s Housing Grant.

During the build, 12 North Wales apprentices worked on Hafod y Gest, with 92 per cent of the total workforce living in the region. The project has created seven permanent jobs including project manager, caretaker, kitchen staff, and night carers.

Julie James AM, Minister for Housing and Local Government, officially opened the scheme and was joined by pupils from Ysgol Eifionydd Secondary School who entertained attendees with a musical performance.

Carina Roberts, community services director at Grŵp Cynefin, said: “The residents have settled in very well and they are thoroughly enjoying their new lifestyle.

“One person had not left her house for two years before arriving here due to a large number of steps outside her property. Moving into Hafod y Gest has re-opened the door to her world and she’s been visiting the town centre and local shops.

“To see the positive change this facility has had on people’s lives is amazing.”

Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James said: “We have invested £4.5 million in Hafod y Gest because we believe that housing can play a role in keeping people healthy and independent for longer, as well as supporting the construction industry and local businesses in the supply chain.

“I’m really pleased to have had a tour and get the chance to meet some of the new residents – Hafod y Gest offers a fantastic place to live and I hope the residents will be very happy here.”

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin chief executive, said: “This is our fourth extra care facility in North Wales and we have a fifth due to open in Denbigh next year. We are committed to providing housing solutions in the region and these schemes are a superb opportunity for older people to live independently with the flexibility of having care services if required.”

Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member, Councillor Nia Jeffreys, who was part of the official opening, said: “The Hafod y Gest development is a fantastic example of how we are working with our partners to transform our social care. Our aim is to ensure that Gwynedd’s older people can continue to live independently and safely within their communities and Hafod y Gest provides just that.

“The 24-hour care facility provides the peace and mind that care and support is available from dedicated staff members should it be required. But it also ensures that residents have their own front-door whilst giving them the opportunity to participate in a variety of social activities available at the development.

“I’d like to thank our partners at Grŵp Cynefin and the Health Board who have played a crucial role in delivering the third extra care housing facility here in Gwynedd.”

Sisters are doing it for themselves

Grŵp Cynefin and Meliden Residents Action Group are behind a project to transform a dilapidated old railway shed into a thriving community hub.

After extensive renovations, work is almost complete on transforming the old building on the walkway at Meliden, near Prestatyn, into a centre with heritage displays, café, meeting space and business units.

With the aim of breathing life into the community and supporting up-and-coming companies and creative individuals, the first people set to move onto Y Shed’s site have been unveiled.

They include sisters Rachel Roberts and Jane Roberts, who are setting up a new venture together and will be running Y Shed’s café, launching a menu which pays homage to the local area.

Occupying the business units at the Grade II listed site will be wellbeing specialist Ffion Medi Davies Kelly, acclaimed artist Susie Liddle, jewellery and craft maker Sandra Payne, and dog groomer Melanie Cawthray.

Mair Edwards, Grŵp Cynefin’s Community Initiatives Manager, said: “The idea behind Y Shed was two-fold – to support the community by bringing in visitors and to support up-and-coming business people, providing them with an affordable space to work from.

“The Welsh Government recently launched a new initiative to increase the number of women entrepreneurs, but it appears, in this corner of Wales, they are leading the field. We had a wide range of applicants, and each went through a rigorous application process, so those joining us have their place on merit. What is great is the diversity of the services on offer, with each offering something very different but connected to the area.”

For new café owners, Rachel and Jane, Y Shed will be something of a departure. Rachel runs a successful children’s nursery in Rhuddlan, and Jane is a retired midwife who helps her husband Derek run his Prestatyn restaurant La Ricetta.

The sisters wanted a new venture to work on together and set their sights on the café. They will be joined by Rachel’s daughter Meg, a trained barista who was delivered by Jane during her time as a midwife.

“We were impressed with Rachel’s and Jane’s enthusiasm but also how they plan to weave their menu into the local area. Visitors can expect dishes named after the mountainside and the fish caves which surround Y Shed.

“In fact, this love of the area is something we all had in common. For Susie, it could be the basis for a new art project; Ffion will be offering therapies based on the sea; Sandra will be using the backdrop to inspire her crafts and Melanie will be providing a service for the many dog walkers in the area. On top of that, visitors will be able to see all of them at work and find out more when they visit,” added Mair.

Meet the team

Café at Y Shed: Rachel Roberts and Jane Roberts

For Rachel Roberts and Jane Roberts running Y Shed’s café will be a whole new venture. The sisters, from Dyserth and Rhyl, will be working together to run the family-friendly café. Rachel also runs the Castle Day Nursery in Rhuddlan, which this year celebrates its silver anniversary. Together the pair wanted to embark on a new challenge and will be using local produce for their menu, supporting other local businesses. Jane said: “We always had an interest in food and wanted to do something together. We liked the community vibe around Y Shed and, as dog owners, we loved the location. We’re aiming to provide visitors with good quality food with an experience to match.”

Elemental Health and Wellbeing: Ffion Medi Davies Kelly Ffion lives a stone’s throw from Y Shed. Taking inspiration from working on the beach in Por-tugal, Ffion will provide a range of treatments including relaxing Lomi Lomi (Hawaiian) and Cowrie shell massages. She will also treat ailments such as arthritis, sports injuries, and hormonal imbalances. Ffion has been involved in the complementary therapy and beauty industry for over 10 years and has a Bachelor of Science degree in acupuncture.

She is also qualified to teach complementary health care and holds a Post Graduate Certifi-cate in education. She said: “This location is beautiful, encourages relaxation and the feeling of being away from it all.”

Artist Susie Liddle

For artist Susie Liddle, Y Shed’s backdrop could be the inspiration for a new project. The former Prestatyn High School supply teacher, who lives in Meliden, trained at Llandrillo Col-lege and Glyndwr University and has had her artwork displayed in galleries including MOSTYN in Llandudno. Specialising in encaustic art, an ancient painting method using wax and pigment, Susie visits America every year to brush up on her skills and has just returned from a trip to Kansas.

She said: “Y Shed is in an inspiring setting, surrounded by wonderful countryside. The history of the area is fascinating. I am interested in the minutiae of everyday life so these things combined could make for a new project once I am settled into the new studio.”

Jewellery and crafts: Sandra Payne

When Sandra moved from Southampton to her new home in Kinmel Bay little did she know what was a hobby once would become a new business venture. A self-taught jewellery mak-er and keen knitter, Sandra began by making jewellery to go with her outfits. After retiring and moving to North Wales with husband Alan, Sandra began selling her crafts at Rhos on Sea Country Market and has now outgrown her home craft room. She said: “I want-ed somewhere I could make my own, dress the space the way I wanted and use the space to sell my jewellery and crafts. I’m also looking to have a craft hub at Y Shed, supporting other craft makers and running workshops.”

Bowwow’s Dogs Company: Melanie Cawthray

Running Bowwow’s Dog Company is a walk in the park for Melanie Cawthray who also lives close to Y Shed. She set up the company in 2014 and wanting a career change. She now walks up to 10 dogs a day, helping owners who can’t get out and about, and grooms dogs to ensure they’re in tip-top condition. Adopting a holistic approach, Melanie was looking for a calming environment to expand her dog grooming and hit upon Y Shed. Melanie, who is trained in dog behavioural techniques said: “Y Shed is a great, affordable place to grow the business, and I liked the ethos. Many dog walkers use the track so they can drop their dog in and have a bite to eat whilst they wait.” Melanie will be helped out by friend Carole Macauley who has overcome her own fear of dogs to help grow the business.

Youth Shedz scheme scoops UK housing industry award

The Youth Shedz project, developed by 16 to 25-year-olds working with Grŵp Cynefin’s support service Gorwel, has been named homelessness project of the year (for less than 4,000 homes) at the UK Housing Awards (UKHA, 1 May 2019).

The annual awards, held at London’s Grosvenor Hotel, bring together more than 1,300 leading housing association professionals to celebrate achievements in the industry.

And Youth Shedz was the only North Wales-based winner on the night after impressing the judging panel, which includes members of the Chartered Institute of Housing and the House of Lords, with its youth-led culture and success.

The project started in September 2017, helping vulnerable young people build their confidence and gain employability skills by transforming a former garage in Denbigh into a Youth Shedz hub.

Its members, known as ‘Shedderz’, lead on all decisions relating to the scheme’s development, and engage in activities including woodwork and bike repairs.

Now, more Youth Shedz have been established in Abergele, Colwyn Bay, and Kinmel Bay, with its growth a measure of its success, says Youth Shedz mentor Scott Jenkinson.

He said: “Winning a UK Housing Award is an incredible achievement, and one that is down to the hard work of each of our Shedderz, who have always been the driving force behind this project.

“It all started when I asked them to research anti-social behaviour, with them coming up with the idea to provide a safe space for young people to be productive in.

“Today Youth Shedz is a fully-fledged non-profit organisation, and thanks to Grŵp Cynefin, it can continue to help the younger generation stay out of trouble and off the streets.”

Mair Edwards, community initiatives manager at Grŵp Cynefin, added: “Youth Shedz has made a real difference to young people’s lives, and we’re proud to see it deservedly win this UKHA award.

“Our ethos of ‘more than housing’ sets us apart, and through projects like these, which empower participants to build their confidence and enhance their employability, we achieve just that.”

Shan Lloyd Williams, chief executive at Grŵp Cynefin, added: “We’re thrilled to see this powerful project be named the best in the UK.

“As a leading housing association, we’re honoured to be able to offer more than housing to our communities across North and Mid Wales through schemes like Youth Shedz, which help tenants live happy and fulfilled lives.”

Gorwel, which is a business unit within Grŵp Cynefin, provides support to the homeless, victims of domestic abuse, and people over 55 who need help to continue living independently, across Gwynedd, Anglesey and Denbighshire.

Around 90 per cent of its funding comes from the Welsh Government’s Supporting People programme, which gives housing-related support to help vulnerable people live as independently as possible.

Would-be tenants invited to sign up at open day for extra care housing in Denbigh

And such has been the interest already in Awel y Dyffryn in Denbigh, that Grŵp Cynefin, the housing association behind the 66-apartment scheme, has urged would-be tenants to sign up sooner rather than later in order not to miss out.

It is to hold an information day, in Denbigh Museum, on Wednesday 15 May between 2pm and 7pm.

Construction on the site of the derelict former Middle Lane School is due for completion in mid-2020.

Preference for tenancies will be given to Denbighshire residents aged 60 and over.

Awel y Dyffryn will meet the needs of older people who want to live independently in their own homes, but with care and support available 24 hours.

Tenants will be able to access shared facilities including a restaurant; activities room; communal lounges; landscaped gardens and laundry.

Grŵp Cynefin and Denbighshire County Council staff will be on hand at the open day, to explain the specification of apartments, about communal rooms and shared facilities, the services on offer, and also how to apply to be considered for an apartment.

Extra benefits on offer will include intergenerational events to tackle loneliness and mental health, together with other social and leisure activities.

Awel y Dyffryn is Grŵp Cynefin’s fifth extra care scheme, and its second in Denbighshire. Its other, long-established, schemes are located in Bala, Holyhead, Ruthin and Porthmadog.

Its accommodation will comprise 42 two-bedroom and 24 one-bedroom apartments.

Awel y Dyffryn is a joint project between Grŵp Cynefin and Denbighshire County Council, with financial support from the Welsh Government,

Grŵp Cynefin chief executive, Shan Lloyd Williams, said: “Awel y Dyffryn will not only help meet the supported housing needs of older and vulnerable residents in the county.

“A number of years ago, Grŵp Cynefin pledged to provide tenants with more than just housing. So we’ll also be offering many services, events and activities, to help support the overall good health and wellbeing in the wider community.”

Head of housing services, Noela Jones said: “The addition of a quality new housing development alone, is a breath of fresh air to Denbigh town centre, where the former grammar school building had been declining for a number of years.”

Phil Gilroy, Denbighshire County Council’s Head of Community Support Services said: “We are pleased to be working with Grŵp Cynefin on this project which will provide quality housing as well as support residents’ well-being.

“Extra care housing is a key part of our Corporate Plan and making more housing options open to people in Denbighshire is a priority for us.”

Awel y Dyffryn is being developed by local contractor, R L Davies, of Colwyn Bay.

Celebrate and share good practice in intergenerational work

Following innovative work in liaising, communication and collaboration between children and older people at several locations in recent years, Grŵp Cynefin is keen to emphasise the main purpose of the work - to improve wellbeing and reduce loneliness in the lives of elderly people living in rural communities.

The conference organised by Bangor University, is a collaboration between Grŵp Cynefin, Gwynedd Council and CADR, the ageing research centre and dementia. The aim of the day will be to share research, good practice and celebrate successes within the field.

Guest speaker will be expert, Stephen Burke, who established ‘United for all ages’ almost ten years ago to tackle major social and economic problems such as loneliness and education, care and housing. He specialises in intergenerational transition and has influenced and stimulated a number of successful campaigns in the childcare and older people’s sectors.

Grŵp Cynefin has worked on a number of intergenerational schemes across north Wales. In one Gwynedd scheme it was arranged for primary aged children, to visit the residents of Grŵp Cynefin’s extra care scheme in order to take part in various activities such as art and craft work, singing and reading.

Awel y Coleg, Bala has been one of those locations where pupils between the ages of four and seven joined older tenants in their 70s, 80s and 90s on numerous occasions to enjoy singing music together. In one particular project, Grŵp Cynefin also worked with professional musicians from Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias.

After the sessions, one tenant in her eighties, Helen Margaret Roberts from Bala, said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the sessions, as it unites two joys of my life - singing and spending time with children. It has been a breath of fresh air to sing with the children, and has bought very fond memories of my time teaching primary school children.”

Grŵp Cynefin’s annual older people’s day last year saw their campaign to improve the wellbeing and social awareness of its tenants come to fruition, by inviting pupils from Ysgol Dewi Sant, Rhyl to the older residents event to teach and enjoy traditional Welsh folk dancing.

Similar work has also taken place at Llys Awelon, Ruthin with visits from Ysgol Pen Barras, Ruthin school pupils.

The event has been led by Bangor University lecturer Dr Catrin Hedd Jones, and research collected in Day Care setting across Wales following the ‘Hen Blant Bach and the Toddlers that took on dementia’ programme will be shared. Dr Jones said: “The event will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase some of the good work out there.

“We will be talking about the results and learnings from the intergenerational research carried out by Bangor University and international studies.”

Grŵp Cynefin’s community enterprise manager, Mair Edwards said: “We were aware of the evidence that intergenerational work is improving people’s wellbeing, and we were keen to put this into practice.

“By communicating with children, our elderly tenants have felt less isolated and managed to do things they would not normally do.”

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin chief executive, said: “Our ‘more than housing’ principle highlight these specific projects - we want our residents to live more fulfilled lives and these schemes have helped tenants achieve that goal.

“Our hope is to share good practice with delegates, learn more about research within the field and see how we can continue to work together to put the health and wellbeing of our residents first.”

The event takes place on Thursday, 11 April at Reichel Hall, Bangor University.

Grŵp Cynefin volunteers scoop two prestigious community awards

The prestigious accolade is presented annually to local people who have made outstanding contributions to communities across north east Wales.

And this year’s Denbigh winners work closely with Grŵp Cynefin on a number of non-profit, charitable schemes.

Catherine Jones, a tenant who has battled a long-term illness to become the town mayor, won the award for individual volunteer.

She is heavily involved with a number of local organisations including Denbigh Carnival, Denbigh Events Group, and Grŵp Cynefin’s customer and communities committee.

The well-known local leader has also set up ‘Denbigh’s Family’, a fundraising group to support people that live alone in Denbigh, and personally visits nursing homes on Christmas Eve to ensure residents without families can join in on festivities.

Denbigh Youth Shedz, which was set up by young people working with Grŵp Cynefin’s support service Gorwel, won the High Sheriff’s award for voluntary organisations.

The project, which aims to help vulnerable youngsters gain confidence and learn life skills, started in Denbigh in 2017, and has since opened more Shedz in Colwyn Bay, Abergele and Kinmel Bay.

Members, known as ‘Shedderz’, lead on all decisions about the scheme’s development, and engage in activities including woodwork and furniture restoration.

They have also visited local secondary schools to speak about how education has helped improve their lives for the better.

After receiving the High Sheriff awards at the ceremony at Glyndŵr University, both winners say they are proud to be giving something back to their own community.

Catherine Jones said: “Any award is an honour, and I’m grateful to accept it on behalf of the many groups I work with to help bring the people of Denbigh together.

“One of my main focuses is children and their education. I spend time at local primary schools in my role as mayoress, and enjoy telling them that they too can reach for the stars and could one day become mayor.

“Denbigh is a fantastic community, and being a councillor and a volunteer gives me the chance to help people. I believe everyone within our society should aim to help others.”

Scott Jenkinson, Youth Shedz co-founder, said: “We’re absolutely blown away to have won our third award, with the team also finalists at the upcoming UK Housing Awards.

“It’s testament to the hard work of our young people, who have helped Denbigh Youth Shedz become a fully-fledged non-profit organisation.

“Being recognised by the High Sheriff will further build our members’ confidence, and without our partners including Grŵp Cynefin, none of their achievements as part of the group would be possible.”

Mair Edwards, community initiatives manager at Grŵp Cynefin, said: “The difference Catherine Jones and Denbigh Youth Shedz’ contributions make to Denbigh is invaluable.

“We’re proud to be associated with these now award-winning volunteers, and look forward to continuing working closely with them to help improve the lives of our tenants.”

Shan Lloyd Williams, chief executive at Grŵp Cynefin, added: “Our slogan is ‘more than housing’ and volunteers play a vital role in achieving that.

“As an organisation we strive to make sure our residents live happy and fulfilled lives, and we’re proud to be continuing work on inspirational schemes with Councillor Catherine Jones and Denbigh Youth Shedz.”

Y Shed café tender is now open to applicants

Y Shed is within a beautiful setting at the side of the old railway line which is now a pedestrian path with a recorded 60,000 users per annum.

We are renovating the historical listed building back into use and the project involves developing a vibrant and sustainable community asset. The vision is to develop a hub for the local community, offering volunteering, enterprise, employment and learning opportunities within a building that is contemporary whilst still in keeping with its original strong features.

Y Shed will host the following activities:

• Café on the first floor which promotes healthy food and local growing initiatives with 44 covers inside and an additional 20-30 covers outside.

• Heritage Centre – 1 ground floor time tunnel and some heritage interpretation within the cafe. There will also be heritage activities to attract visitors and educational visits.

• Workshops/business spaces for local artisans/businesses - located in individually designed shipping containers adjacent to the building - designed to incorporate visitors being able to watch crafts people at work.

• Bike hire facility with potential to expand to other outdoor activities – Nordic walking etc.

• Community shop - an opportunity for small artisans and local residents to test trade, display and sell their products. Exhibition space will also be available for local artists.


History

The ‘Meliden Residents Action Group’ (MRAG) has had aspirations ever since its closure to develop the grade 2 listed building into a centre which incorporates the rich heritage of Meliden and encourage visitors to the area. MRAG identified an opportunity to bring back to life a building that has historical significance to Meliden. Grŵp Cynefin’s Community Initiatives Team was approached in January 2015 to support MRAG and the local authority to progress the project further. Following two years of hard work, preparing the business plan and funding applications we had confirmation that the National Lottery had awarded £1.1 million to achieve the project. In May 2017 the additional match funding was confirmed and we were able to procure for the main contract. Building work started late 2017 and we hope to open the project around Easter 2019.

Café

The café tender is now open to applicants, please find the information pack here.

Artists, photographers, craft makers, and food producers are being offered the chance to showcase their wares once open. If you’re interested please get in touch with us.
Send your form to yshed@grwpcynefin.org or Grŵp Cynefin, Tŷ John Glyn, 54 Vale Street, Denbigh, LL16 3BW.

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Gwynedd older people new development brings economic benefits

Grŵp Cynefin housing association’s £7.8 million Hafod y Gest development in Porthmadog has recently opened, allowing older people from the area to benefit from a new independent lifestyle facility in a safe community environment with flexible care services available.

Hafod y Gest is a partnership development between Gwynedd Council and Grŵp Cynefin developed by Anwyl Construction. It is located in the heart of the town and community of Porthmadog, and close to the shops and facilities. The development consists of 26 two-bedroom apartments and 14 one-bedroom apartments and boasts communal areas, including a dining room, lounges, gardens and activity rooms.

85% of the workforce who worked on the development project lived within a 30mile radius, in north west Wales with seven of the apprentices also travelling within the same locality. In addition, 93% of the goods, services and overheads of the Hafod y Gest contract was spent with small and medium sized businesses in Wales.

As main contractor, Anwyl Construction set a targeted recruitment approach within Gwynedd and north Wales and appointed a strong supply chain, purchasing goods and recruiting trainees as locally as possible. Some of the training opportunities included trades such as scaffolding, technical & design, joinery, bricklaying, mechanical & electrical, plumbing, cladding, logistics and dry wall fixing apprenticeships.

Carina Roberts, community services director at Grŵp Cynefin said: “Giving local people the opportunity to benefit from our building projects, is one of our core values, as an organisation.

“Economic prosperity as well as training and community benefits played a key role in the development of Hafod y Gest, and we are delighted that this project has reached its fruition in Porthmadog.”

Tom Anwyl, managing director of the construction division at Anwyl Construction said: “Having been present in Porthmadog for a substantial time whilst developing Hafod y Gest, we’re thrilled to have been able to contribute to the local community, Gwynedd and North Wales in such a positive way.

“Whilst at times, the project has been challenging from a construction point of view, the targeted approach to procuring this project has created a fantastic scheme with many great outcomes for local people and Welsh businesses.”

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin chief executive said: “Developing a project of this magnitude within a town centre location has a knock on effect on the community. As we arrive at this important juncture, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the local community for their support and patience during the development stages. We wish the new residents of Hafod y Gest well as they settle into their new homes.”

One of the new residents, Mrs Penelope Drew who hasn’t been enjoying the best of health recently said: “I’m looking forward to settling in and having my own space again. I had a fall at home in Tremadog back in August, and broke my hip so spent a number of months at Ysbyty Alltwen.

“I’ve since been recuperating at a residential home in Criceth, so now I’m on the road to recovery, I’m ready to settle back into my own space again.

“My family have been busy getting the flat ready for me, putting up curtains, sorting my bed and carrying my things to the new flat at Hafod y Gest. It’s like a beautiful hotel, and I’m looking forward to settling in properly. Everyone has been extremely kind.”

Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member for Care, Councillor Gareth Roberts said: “We celebrate the fact that residents are settling into their brand new extra care housing development. It allows older people from the area to benefit from an independent lifestyle in a safe and secure community.

“We are delighted that this major construction project has benefitted the Gwynedd workforce, the local economy and ensured young people have been given traineeship and apprenticeship opportunities.”

Four new Rhewl homes to go on affordable housing register

Ten new properties are being constructed in Rhewl, Denbighshire, with six on the open market, and four available on the Tai Teg register.

The Tai Teg register, which was launched six months ago, offers north Wales residents the opportunity to rent or buy houses at a cost less than market value. Since its inception, more than 50 people have been through the register to find a home to rent or to buy.

Two of the homes are available for purchase under shared ownership, and two via intermediate rent, a lower than average rent rate.

All of the new Lôn yr Eglwys estate properties are designed to a spacious plan including larger than average rooms, and thermal insulation to reduce energy bills.

Dylan Roberts, regeneration services director at Grŵp Cynefin, said: “I’m excited to see these houses become the homes of local people in partnership with the Tai Teg scheme.

“We are committed to providing top quality properties, and the modern finish on the Lôn yr Eglwys plots will reflect this, with fully fitted kitchens and off-road parking included.

“Anyone interested in owning or renting one of the affordable units must be signed up to the Tai Teg register, and show homes will be available in due course.”

Cllr Tony Thomas, Denbighshire County Council’s lead member for housing, regulation & the environment added: “The Council is delighted to work in partnership with registered social landlords like Grŵp Cynefin to bring additional investment in affordable homes to the county, which will complement our own investment in new Council homes.

“This helps deliver the housing priority in the Council’s Corporate Plan contributing towards our target of providing 260 affordable homes across the county by 2022.”

To declare interest for a house on the Tai Teg website, applicants must be in employment and with a gross household income between £16,000 and £45,000, with some options catering for those earning up to £60,000.

Tai Teg does not include social housing, with people advised to continue to access the relevant council housing register in their area.

Grŵp Cynefin leads the Tai Teg project, but partners include The Snowdonia National Park Authority, together with the seven local authorities: Wrexham County Council, Flintshire County Council, Denbighshire County Council, Conwy County Borough Council, Gwynedd Council, Powys County Council, and Isle of Anglesey County Council.

Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, Pennaf Housing Group, North Wales Housing, Wales & West Housing and Cartrefi Conwy make up the other housing associations involved with Tai Teg.

For more information on Tai Teg schemes and eligibility criteria, visit the website www.taiteg.org.uk or call 0845 601 5605.

Nearly £12,000 has been shared between 54 north Wales community groups and organisations

The community fund forms part of Grŵp Cynefin’s commitment to support local communities where they work and offer more than housing to people living in north Wales and north Powys.

Community, voluntary and tenant groups are encouraged to bid for up to £500 to help them make a difference to local people’s lives and the environment they live in. The application process is a straight forward, so if you have an idea, don’t hesitate in contacting the team.

Community gardens, festivals, well-being sessions, family camping, conservation days, PA systems, play areas, investing in village halls, arts and science projects, first aid sessions and sporting events are just some of the activities people will benefit from.

Areas include Porthmadog, Bethesda, Bangor on Dee, Llanrug, Colwyn Bay, Llanbedr DC, Dyffryn Nantlle, Efailnewydd, Flint, Wrexham, Y Felinheli, Porth Amlwch, Llanegryn, Bangor, Denbigh, Llanuwchllyn and Rhyl to name but a few places where communities will receive support for different projects and events.

One couple from Llangollen, Jan and Don Ware who work on a voluntary basis at Tŷ Allan’s Outhouse Friendship Room have twice been successful in their application for support from Grŵp Cynefin.

“We run a friendship room in the heart of Llangollen, where we offer a warm room to stop during the day, a cup of tea or coffee, where people of all ages can pop in, chat and share any concerns they may have. It’s a safe and warm environment for local people, with some looking for support during a troublesome period in their lives.

“The people who stop by and visit us vary from young mothers with prams, wanting a five minute break in between shopping in town and the school pick up; young people struggling to find work to older people killing time before the bus arrives and people who are in dire need of support.

“It’s a voluntary project, but we are able to signpost people with more pressing needs to different agencies and organisations. We’ve been known to arrange birthday parties for families who are struggling, feed a family with no food in their cupboards, and Christmas is a special time where we open our doors for the festive period, and offer refreshments to people who may be on their own.

“We are wholly dependent on donations, so receiving support from Grŵp Cynefin has been fantastic. This year we’ve been able to buy new heaters and smaller tables that are more manageable for us to adapt the space we have for arts and craft activities. We’re also keen to develop our informal Welsh learning sessions, as working bilingually is very important to us.”

Tŷ Allan’s Outhouse Friendship Room is situated at Castle Street at the corner of the main car park in Llangollen, and usual opening hours are from 10am – 4pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

“We are delighted that so many applications come through to us each year,” explains Mair Edwards, Community Initiatives Manager at Grŵp Cynefin.

“There are so many people across north Wales and north Powys working hard within their communities to support, care for and make a real difference to people’s lives. The variety of applications we have seen is inspiring.

“We have four application windows where we accept people’s proposals, and then our grants panel, made up of our tenants, meet to discuss each application based on a number of different criteria.”

For more information regarding Grŵp Cynefin’s Community Grant, contact the Community Initiatives Team on 0300 111 2122 or email communityinitatives@grwpcynefin.org or more information can be found here.

Construction starts on Grŵp Cynefin’s innovative homes

The two Grŵp Cynefin homes were built off-site as modular units and lifted into place by crane on site. The new properties are in addition to the six traditionally built houses already owned by Grŵp Cynefin on the site at Cynwyd near Corwen, Denbighshire.

And the scheme, in partnership with the Welsh Government’s innovative housing programme, will help reduce energy costs for future tenants. The ready-made, two-bedroom homes are designed to retain heat, with environmentally friendly timber frames helping keep the properties warm.

Time spent on the project by contractor Jones Bros Weston Rhyn has also been reduced versus the traditional method of building houses, as well as minimised disruption to local residents during the work. Specialist manufacturer F1 Modular, based in Newtown, produced the modular units.

Dylan Roberts, regeneration services director at Grŵp Cynefin, said: “We’re pleased to be providing these homes for our tenants, who will enjoy a high quality finish for modern and comfortable living.

“We have worked with modular units before, and would like to do more in the future, as it is an effective way of building properties in an efficient manner. In addition, manufacturing them in a factory significantly increases quality.

“This project is an important part of our development programme, as we aim to build 120 new homes a year for the next few years, and are actively looking for more opportunities to develop.”

Commissioning work is now taking place on the site, with completion scheduled for April. People local to the village who would like more information on becoming a tenant should contact Grŵp Cynefin.

The Welsh Government’s innovative housing programme, which has £90 million funding over three years, seeks to stimulate the design and delivery of new quality, affordable homes.

It aims to increase supply as part of a 20,000 target, speed up the delivery of homes to the market, trial new housing models and methods, and prove the replicability of innovative housing models.

The new houses will be in addition to Grŵp Cynefin’s 4,800 houses included within the association’s property portfolio. Working across north Wales and north Powys, it strives to provide high-quality affordable homes that meet local community needs.

For more information, about these properties call us on 0300 111 2122.

Opportunity for budding artisans to demonstrate their talents as part of a new £1.2 million project

And artists, photographers, craft makers, and food producers are being offered the chance to showcase their wares once the building – to be called Y Shed – opens.

Inside Y Shed will be space for talented artists, producers and craftspeople to display and sell their products with project leaders, charitable housing association Grŵp Cynefin and Meliden Residents Action Group, particularly keen to support local and upcoming

contemporary talent.

Mair Edwards, Grŵp Cynefin’s Community Initiatives Manager, said: “Y Shed is very much a community project, developed by the community for the community. There is an array of talent in the local area, people making their own jams, chutneys, through to potters,

photographers and artists.

“The list is endless and we’re sure there are creative people out there looking for new ways to showcase their work. Y Shed can provide the space to do this and we’re particularly interested in products made locally or works of art that reflect the area itself.”

Y Shed’s gallery space will enable different artists and products to be displayed at different times, giving visitors something new to see and experience each time they visit.

“With tens of thousands of people using the walkway every year, this is a wonderful opportunity for makers, designers, and artists to reach a new audience,” added Mair.

Anyone interested in displaying their work or selling their products at Y Shed can contact Grŵp Cynefin on 0300 111 2122 or via yshed@grwpcynefin.org

The Grade II listed building will be the first railway heritage attraction of its kind in Prestatyn.

Tai Teg promotes 10 new homes in Anglesey

Tai Teg is a new affordable housing register that offers local people the opportunity to rent or buy houses at a cost less than market value. Since its inception, over fifty people have been through the register to find a home to rent or to buy.

On the former school site at Llanddeusant, Anglesey, Yr Hen Ysgol will soon have 6 three bedroomed houses and 4 two bedroomed houses, thanks to a Welsh Government support grant. Local building contractors from Holyhead, DU Construction have been responsible for the development work on site.

“There is a continued demand for affordable homes across north Wales communities, so it’s great to be able to invest in rural villages such as this site at Llanddeusant, on Anglesey,” explains Dylan Roberts, Regeneration Services Director at Grŵp Cynefin.

“Working with communities to provide opportunities for local people to access quality properties, makes our work worthwhile. A year’s work on site preparing, planning and building is nearing completion and it is great to be able to offer the site back into the hands of local people. We will be welcoming local people to the site’s Open Day on Saturday 12 of January between 1 and 4pm.”

Ned Michael, Anglesey’s Head of Housing Services said, “Increasing the number of affordable homes on the island is a strategic priority for the Isle of Anglesey County Council and we are proactively working with key partners to develop additional affordable housing across the island. The Council has worked closely with Grŵp Cynefin to deliver this affordable housing scheme, in an area where the need for affordable housing had been identified. Once again, this is another excellent example of how Anglesey County Council is working with its partners to develop new affordable housing on the Island and we hope that the tenants will enjoy living in their new homes for years to come.”

To register an interest for a house on the Tai Teg website, applicants must be in employment and with a gross household income between £16,000 and £45,000. Applicants must also have a local connection, of living or working in Anglesey for at least five years in order to comply with the legal guidelines.

Construction should be completed at Yr Hen Ysgol by January 2019.

Grŵp Cynefin leads the Tai Teg project, but partners include The Snowdonia National Park Authority, together with the seven local authorities: Wrexham County Council, Flintshire County Council, Denbighshire County Council, Conwy County Borough Council, Gwynedd Council, Powys County Council, and Isle of Anglesey County Council.

Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, Pennaf Housing Group, North Wales Housing, Wales & West Housing and Cartrefi Conwy make up the other housing associations involved with Tai Teg.

For more information on Yr Hen Ysgol, Llanddeusant or any other homes, visit the website www.taiteg.org.uk or call 0845 601 5605

Support service, Gorwel, wins big at major housing and homelessness awards

The Youth Shedz project, which was established by people aged between 16-25 working with support service Gorwel, won the learning and work award at Cymorth Cymru’s Promoting Independence Awards.

A Gorwel service user was also presented with a Cymorth Cymru personal achievement award for overcoming sexual abuse and subsequent mental health issues to enrol into college education.

The awards, which are in their 12th year, recognise achievements related to homelessness and housing in Wales’ support sector, with Gorwel the only support service to win two awards in two different categories on the night.

The Youth Shedz came out top of its category after judges praised its youth-led culture, engagement with the local community, and its success in developing positive relationships.

The project started in September 2017 to help youngsters from the Denbigh area build confidence by taking charge of former garage space to establish the shed.

More than 20 teenagers and young adults, known as ‘Shedderz’, have been engaged in activities at Youth Shedz in Denbigh, Colwyn Bay, and Kinmel Bay, including woodwork and furniture restoration, and encouraged to make decisions about the project’s development.

Members of the shed have also visited secondary school pupils to raise awareness of its work, and share their stories of how education has helped improve their lives.

The scheme has led to a reduction in antisocial behaviour within the group, as well as improved self-esteem and social capabilities.

And the shed’s success is down to putting people first, says Youth Shedz mentor Scott Jenkinson.

He said: “The shed started up when I asked some young adults working with Gorwel to research anti-social behaviour.

“They had an idea to provide the younger generation with a safe space to be productive, and have since set up more sheds in Colwyn Bay and Kinmel Bay.

“It’s gone from a simple research task to being a fully fledged charity that’s been discussed in the National Assembly of Wales, and the Shedderz fully deserve this award in recognition of all their hard work.”

Gorwel assistant manager Osian Ellis added: “The project’s aim is to empower young people by giving them the reigns in every decision-making process within the shed.

“Their leadership skills have been developed by taking part in vocational courses, including first aid training, which has enhanced their employability.

“The shed promotes inclusion and has a real sense of community, and has also helped a number of the Shedderz engage in something positive and potentially life changing.”

The project involved service users from Hafod, a supported housing scheme for young people aged 16-25 in Denbigh.

Gorwel’s service user was recognised with Cymorth Cymru’s personal achievement award, having spoken out against abusers, and acted as a vital witness in criminal trials.

Today, in what has been described as ‘a dream come true’, the service user is studying an animal management course.

Gorwel, provides support to the homeless, victims of domestic abuse, and people over 55 who need help to continue living independently, across Gwynedd, Anglesey, Conwy and Denbighshire.

Around 90 per cent of its funding comes from the Welsh Government’s Supporting People programme, which gives housing-related support to help vulnerable people live as independently as possible.

Click here to read more about Gorwel or call 0300 111 2122.

My Housing Journey  By Clifton Robinson, board member, Grŵp Cynefin

I love housing so much I came out of retirement earlier this year to join the board at North Wales-based Grŵp Cynefin, under new chief executive, Shan Lloyd Williams.

It hasn’t been the career journey I’d mapped out as a young person. Born and brought up in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, I was set to become a solicitor.

I joined Hounslow Council’s borough solicitor’s department as a law graduate, tasked with housing matters.

By then married with two young children, I decided it wouldn’t be good for my family for me to spend the years required, as an articled clerk, before qualifying as a solicitor.

By chance I spotted a recruitment advert, which led me to join the Thames Valley Housing Society as its first home ownership officer.

It was 1983, and the Housing Corporation and the sector were getting to grips with new housing initiatives such as shared ownership, leasehold schemes for the elderly, and the new, controversial, Right To Buy legislation.

One of my first experiences as a junior officer was of an attempt by the council leader to discipline me for facilitating the sale of a council house in his ward. I’d never met him, and had to explain that I was just doing my job and applying the law. It was an interesting time!

I studied day release at Kingston Polytechnic for a Diploma in Management Studies, then, in 1987, again by chance, I saw an advert for a housing manager with Clwyd Alyn Housing Association in Rhyl, North Wales. I got the job and, after a thorough reccie of the area and discussions with the family, we took the plunge and relocated.

It was a total life change. I’d never lived outside London. We had a young family. Yet we were won over by having more room to live, the beautiful countryside, the history and strong culture of the region. We still love it today.

That said, as a black man, leaving London and working in North Wales in the 1980s had its challenges.

By 1993, I was housing director at North Wales Housing Association and responsible for strategic delivery of the housing, maintenance and tenant engagement functions.

By 2002, whilst still housing director, I became increasingly drawn to the equalities agenda and soon found myself part of an influential Welsh Government working party of senior civil servants and housing professionals charged with developing guidance for Welsh local authorities and housing associations to develop BME housing and equalities training strategies under the provisions of the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000.”

So, with two colleagues, I formed the Wales Equality & Diversity Consortium, a consultancy delivering diversity training within housing.

This led to a position on the North Wales Crime & Disorder Practitioners Board, which in turn led to the post of chair of the North Wales Probation Service.

At this time, the Equalities & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was being formed, and I was appointed to its Wales statutory committee, helping to shape UK-wide policy.

I also joined the board of newly-created Cartrefi Conwy, the stock transfer housing body for Conwy county.

Between 2008-10, I was juggling roles as consultant trainer, in probation, with the EHRC and as a board member. I was loving every minute.

However, post-recession, consultancy work was drying up. I had to look for a full-time post.

I became chief executive of the Housing Diversity Network (HDN), commuting from North Wales to its office in Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

HDN (Housing Diversity Network) was a truly amazing organisation! With just six members of staff (and some were part-time) and a small pool of self-employed trainers and consultants, we supported a membership of well over 100 housing associations in England along with a handful of local authorities.

As well as providing an equalities training and consultancy service, for many years we also successfully ran an innovative staff mentoring programme.

One of my particular achievements at HDN was to develop, with the help of some amazing people (including the recently retired David Orr from the NHF), our Board Members’ Mentoring Programme, which is still going from strength to strength today. All good things must come to an end so, once I hit 60 in 2016, I retired from HDN.

In 2017 my time as a board member at Cartrefi Conwy housing association also came to an end due to the 9-year rule.

During my time at Cartrefi Conwy I was particularly proud of chairing their Audit & Risk Committee as well being board champion of both tenant engagement and equalities.

And yet… I couldn’t resist the Grŵp Cynefin opportunity when it came up earlier this year. It’s been very, very nice joining as a brand new board member. I’m particularly enjoying working with residents as a member of its customer and community committee.

Of course there are challenges. There is welfare reform, with introduction of Universal Credit, not to mention Brexit, which poses risk because we just don’t know how, for example, the construction sector or labour sources will be impacted in future.

But I’m loving every minute, and hopefully contributing plenty from the experience I have picked up over the years.

Lessons

1. Resilience. We are all human. I’ve learned over the years (painfully slowly at times!) to try and get over any mistakes as quickly as possible and also to try and learn any lessons so as try and avoid repeating the same mistake.

2. To newcomers to housing what an exciting time to be joining the sector! Almost certainly you will at some stage get to collaborate with other disciplines so just go for it and take any opportunities to build up your skills set.

3. Finally, I have discovered the world of podcasts and one, in particular, The Grenfell Tower Inquiry Podcast. I would thoroughly recommend this podcast as it’s a shocking eye opener on the chasm that can open up between agencies and their customers. Listen to it if you can, and stay grounded!.

Housing Associations collaborate to support the North Wales Growth Deal

The Growth Deal is the North Wales region’s commitment to working collaboratively to facilitate and accelerate economic growth. £120 million funding was approved for the Deal in the 2018 Budget announced in October. The Deal aims to use government funding to channel nearly £700m worth of public and private money into a series of projects aimed at boosting the North’s economy and creating thousands of jobs.

Chief Executives from the 6 Housing Associations operating across North Wales, including Grŵp Cynefin, Pennaf, Cartrefi Conwy, Cartrefi Cymuneddol Gwynedd, Wales and West Housing and North Wales Housing are voluntarily collaborating with colleagues from the six Local Authorities. The group is considering how they can proactively work together to develop more homes by unlocking stalled strategic sites across North Wales, which have previously been allocated in a Development Plan or where planning permission has been granted. Such developments will reflect local opinion and respond to known community desires to see more affordable housing so that local young people and families can live locally.

Helena Kirk, Chief Executive at North Wales Housing explains: “This ground breaking level of collaboration between all of the regional associations has not been developed or delivered in Wales to date.

It is an exciting opportunity for the group of six local associations to make a strategic contribution to the economy and the plans to accelerate housing growth and meet a range of housing needs across the region.

The collaboration will support the Growth Deal to accelerate housing growth, creating more affordable homes needed across North Wales. By working together, the combined capacity of our organisations can be utilised to break down barriers to achieving housing delivery on challenging sites.”

Housing and Regeneration Minister Rebecca Evans said: “This is an exciting opportunity to create more affordable housing for people in North Wales. By collaborating, this venture has the potential to be greater than the sum of its parts, and we will be looking to offer to assist its development.”

The group’s plans for the future are currently being developed to fit in with Welsh Government and Local Authority priorities.

New community garden launched to help protect older people’s wellbeing

Gorwel, a support service which helps vulnerable people live independently, has launched a community garden in Llangefni, providing residents with a space to become involved in gardening and socialise more.

The project, which is run by Gorwel in partnership with Anglesey County Council’s Supporting People Team, is part of an effort to reduce loneliness and depression in older people, who may experience little interaction outside of their homes.

The garden has opened following months of preparation from volunteers, including Llangefni residents who raised £360 for garden equipment at a local ASDA supermarket.

Pupils from special educational needs school Canolfan Addysg y Bont also pitched in on the project, helping tend to the garden’s allotment as part of a work experience placement.

Builders merchants Jewson’s Llangefni store has kindly gifted the garden a shed for storage.

The garden’s features include raised plants installed by local service programmes, with residents also getting involved by creating an outdoor mosaic.

Osian Ellis, assistant manager at Gorwel, said: “We came up with the community garden after speaking to our regular participants, who suggested the idea of having somewhere to be active.

“As older people don’t always have the chance or ability to enjoy a garden at home, the space is ideal for them to be outdoors in a friendly and welcoming environment.

“There’s no obligation to do any gardening – it’s also a social centre for people to enjoy and feel part of.

“Beyond that, we want it to act as a preventative measure against mental health issues like depression, which the older generation can suffer from without regular chances to get out and socialise.”

Arwel Jones, principal development officer of housing services at Anglesey County Council, said: “The Council’s Housing Service welcome any new and innovative projects that provide opportunities for vulnerable people to participate, socialise and promote social inclusion.

“As service commissioners, of housing related support, via the Supporting People Programme Grant, we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Gorwel, for their proactive approach in engaging and collaborating with key wider stakeholders in order to improve the wellbeing of the older community and tackle the issue of isolation.

“Furthermore, we are extremely grateful for the financial contributions and item donations of the local and national organisations, where without, it would not have been possible to establish this new venture.

“We look forward to hearing more about further developments and positive outcomes for some of Anglesey’s older citizens as a result of this exiting new project.”

Rhun Ap Iorweth, AM for Ynys Mon, added: “This is a great initiative and another example of the vitally important work Gorwel do to help some of the most vulnerable in our community.

“It is a great opportunity for residents to be more active, to socialise, and perhaps do a bit of gardening as well, and Gorwel deserve every credit for what is sure to be a very important and positive addition to the work that they do for their residents.

“Being active is great for your physical health and wellbeing, but it is also very important for your mental health too, and as well as giving residents the chance to discover their green fingers with a spot of gardening, this community garden will give everyone an opportunity to socialise more frequently. Congratulations to Gorwel and County Council for their hard work on this project – I’m sure it’ll be a great success.”

Gorwel, a unit within Grŵp Cynefin and is available to social and private tenants, as well as owner-occupiers.

The organisation’s main focus is to provide support services in the field of domestic violence and homelessness prevention. Its projects include refuges, supported housing schemes, children and young people services, support in the community and independent domestic violence advisory service.

The Supporting People programme provides housing-related support to help vulnerable people live as independently as possible. It supports more than 57,000 people a year, with 37,000 of those older people.

A new savings scheme which gives up to a £1,200 bonus to people on low incomes has been launched

It is a new type of savings account specially designed for low-paid workers. You can save between £1 and £50 every month, and at the end of two and four years, you’re paid a 50% bonus, up to a maximum £1,200.

Click here for more information

Homes to feature on contemporary jeweller’s 2019 Conwy county Eisteddfod Crown design

As a sponsor Grŵp Cynefin is delighted that homes will feature, for the first time, in the design of the Crown.

“As an organisation, we are delighted to be playing a role in the brief offered to designer, Angela Evans from Caernarfon as she presents her design concept for the creation of the National Eisteddfod’s 2019 Crown,” explains Shân Lloyd Williams, Chief Executive of Grŵp Cynefin.

Three key elements will form part of the Crown design, with all three themes linked to Grŵp Cynefin’s housing association principles, as commissioners of next year’s Crown.

“Our main principle as a housing association is to offer quality homes within rural communities of north Wales. But as an organisation that means more than just laying bricks and mortar.

“As so many of our staff derive from these north Wales communities, they understand the make-up of these areas, the close-knit communities they serve plus the importance Welsh culture, the language and the history has within these rural communities.

“Grŵp Cynefin offers ‘more than housing’ to our tenants and homeowners, and we are proud to be showcasing elements of this work in such an accomplished national prize,” explains Shân Lloyd Williams.

“We’re thrilled to understand that houses will feature on the Crown’s design, linking the homes created by Grŵp Cynefin to the bard’s winning jewel.

Gemstones will be used on the Crown to convey the brightness and future prosperity of the sustainable communities Cynefin works with across north and mid Wales.

And showcasing all that is good from the county of Conwy will be represented by water. The water that runs from the Conwy estuary to the sea, through the river down the valley, feeding the land and its people via its labyrinth of brooks and gorges.

Now Angela Evans has presented her concept ideas to the Eisteddfod board, the designer will begin her task, fulfilling a long held dream to create this momentous prize.

Angela Evans: “I’ve always wanted to design and make an Eisteddfod Crown so I’m thrilled to have won the commission.

“My jewellery work is intricate and detailed and this style of making will be very apparent in the Crown’s design.

The Crown is one of the highest accolades of the National Eisteddfod and is presented to the winner of one of the two major poetry competitions. In a ceremonial event on the pavilion stage during Eisteddfod week, the nom de plume of the winner is announced and the successful bard stands to the delight of the congratulatory crowd.

Angela’s design outline was selected by a panel of tenants, staff and board members following a commissioning campaign led by Grŵp Cynefin. This week, the Gorsedd of the Bards Board approved the design

Angela gained a degree in Jewellery Design and Silversmithing at the Loughborough University, School of Art and Design in 2004. She was Chair of the ‘North Wales Jewellers Collective’ for 10 years, plus she is a professional member of the Association of Contemporary Jewellers.

Angela’s workshop is located at ‘Siop iard’ Caernarfon, a space she shares with two other artists. All three artists opened a second shop at Pwllheli three years ago which is operated by a further three artists. In addition Angela leads jewellery making courses throughout the year.

Shân Lloyd Williams, Chief Executive of Grŵp Cynefin added: “As a Welsh housing association, we are delighted to be able to play a prominent role in presenting this prize at Conwy county 2019’s National Eisteddfod.

“We are in close liaison with Angela Evans, and look forward immensely to seeing her design develop in the coming months.”

Housing Association Performance Comparison Tool

Grŵp Cynefin’s performance can be seen against several performance headings, such as financial performance, tenant satisfaction and property conditions, and this data can be seen for all other housing associations in Wales to compare. The performance
data is up to the end of March 2018.

This tool will be launched today, 1st November 2018, and you can click on the link below to access it. We would welcome any comments or questions on the comparison tool, or on our performance data, and you can do so by contacting Sioned Ames, Senior Performance Officer, on 0300 111 2122 or post@grwpcynefin.org.

Here is the link to the tool: Housing Associations Comparison Tool. (To access the data on the website, click on the performance headings.)

400 new homes on cards thanks to Grŵp Cynefin’s ambitious growth strategy

And innovation will be key to its successful delivery, says Grŵp Cynefin, as the current tough financial environment for social housing looks set to persist.

Greater measured risk; opportunities presented by the Wylfa Newydd project; partnerships with other regional social landlords (RSLs); plus working with Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board, are among tactics cited in its Growth Strategy 2018-21.

Launching the new strategy, chief executive Shan Lloyd Williams said that new ideas and different ways of working would enable Grŵp Cynefin to help meet the housing needs of a North Wales population that is increasing and ageing.

She said: “We make no apology for being ambitious. It’s a much tougher financial environment out there now, but we have already worked out that by being creative and open-minded, we can improve our performance by achieving better value for money for our tenants and customers.

“We’re starting from a position of strength, as we’ve already secured all the financing capacity for our development plans for the next two to three years.

“Going forward, we’re going to make greater use of market analysis, feedback from tenants and customers, and intelligence from local authorities and health boards.”

During the three-year period, Grŵp Cynefin will develop 360 new social housing units, plus a further 48 new homes for intermediate rent under the Welsh Housing Partnership.

Formed five years ago from the merger of Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd and Cymdeithas Tai Eryri, Grŵp Cynefin will also develop its existing collaborative partnerships with the Welsh Government and local authorities, and seek new opportunities such as those offered by the North Wales Economic Ambition Board’s growth plan.

In addition to social and intermediate rental properties, under the strategy, Grŵp Cynefin will also step up its provision of homes via shared ownership, Homebuy, and through market and discounted sales.

It will also work in partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board across North Wales, to help develop local visions for health, social care and housing, and participate in delivering solutions to meet the population’s health and well-being needs.

Internally, Grŵp Cynefin will also invest in employee development and training, with the aim of achieving a 95 per cent level of staff satisfaction by Year 3.

Shan Lloyd Williams added: “We are already respected by local authorities in particular for our ability to be flexible in our approaches and to develop innovative solutions that best fit the problem or unmet need. This approach is important and our new growth strategy is going to ensure that it continues for the future and across all our offering.”

Downloads

Regulatory Judgement 2018

The Welsh Government has issued guidance that sets out the objectives that each Housing Association is expected to provide, which relates to housing services, governance and financial management.

Every year, as part of the Regulatory process, Grŵp Cynefin conducts a self-evaluation of our activities to show how we meet the relevant guidelines. This self-evaluation is then shared with the Welsh Government’s Housing Regulation Team, who challenges the content and looks back over the year on our achievements. The results forms a report published by the Welsh Government.

The following Regulatory Judgement report has been published for Grŵp Cynefin on 31 October 2018:

Co-Regulation Status – October 2018

Governance and Services - Standard
• Identifies and manages new and emerging risks appropriately.

Financial Viability - Standard
• Meets viability requirements and has the financial capacity to deal with scenarios appropriately

A ‘Standard’ judgement is the highest possible regulatory status.

You can see a fully copy of the report here

Downloads

People are being asked to turn detective and help shed light on a village’s history

The Grade II listed building - Y Shed – is set to open next year and project leaders, charitable housing association Grŵp Cynefin and Meliden Residents Action Group, are keen to ensure the project reflects Meliden life.

Village artefacts and old photos could be displayed within the building and people are being asked to help unearth hidden historical treasures.

Mair Edwards, Grŵp Cynefin’s Community Initiatives Manager, said: “We all keep old photos, snapshots of family and village life that we may have taken ourselves or had passed down to us from parents and grandparents. Lurking in the backs of cupboards or in old

albums could be fascinating photographs which show Meliden through the years.

“But it’s not just old photos we are looking for. Squirrelled away may be clothing, artefacts, books or objects that nod to the village’s history. We’d love to see what’s out there and would invite people along to an open morning where we can scan pictures and

photograph items with a view to finding them a permanent home in Y Shed once it opens.”

People are being asked to bring any items or photos along to Meliden Community Centre on Tuesday October 30th between 10am and 1pm. Photographs can be scanned and stored, and objects pictured and catalogued.

“It may be that people have things relating to Y Shed’s history – it was a key part of the Dyserth to Prestatyn railway line for many years – or have unusual things connected to the lead mines and limestone quarries. Hundreds of miners once worked in the village and it would be particularly good to see this reflected within Y Shed.

“We’re not asking people to hand over their pictures and artefacts to us at this stage but to allow us to capture and record them so we can see what’s out there and then we can follow up any items of particular interest,” added Mair.

Construction workers on the site have already unearthed Victorian drinking bottles believed to have been used by railway workers and passengers. Some of the bottles may go on display when Y Shed - the first railway heritage attraction of its kind in Prestatyn - opens.

Anyone who wishes to get involved with Y Shed can contact Grŵp Cynefin on 0300 111 2122.

A brand new specially built bungalow makes life more comfortable for disabled tenant

The Penyffordd bungalow has been specifically designed to meet the needs of the tenant, who has severe complex difficulties and receives 24 hour care from her family.

Working with Flintshire County Council’s Specialist Housing Solutions, the bungalow built at Maes y Wennol, Penyffordd, Flintshire was developed by a north Wales based company, W D Stant. It was part of a three phase development: the first phase, Cwrt y Glowyr, completed in 2014; the second phase was this special needs bungalow and discussions are ongoing regarding a third phase.

Shân Lloyd Williams, Chief Executive of Grŵp Cynefin said: “From the outset, working with our colleagues at Flintshire County Council, the family were made a priority case. Working closely with the family and the health and care support team surrounding the tenant, we were all able to learn, design, plan and build a property that met their current and future needs.

“In this particular project, it was important that a bespoke home was built so that it would enable the whole family to have a better quality of life. Grŵp Cynefin was delighted to hand over the keys of this bungalow to the family, as we were so aware how much difference this property would make to the lives of the individuals involved.”

Marion Mullins, who with her husband, cares for her sister, Christine said: “Moving into this new bungalow has been a breath of fresh air for Christine and for us. Christine is severely mentally and physically handicapped. At the old property, we did not have a shower for my sister, so bed baths were our only option. She had to have any showers at the care home, during her respite care.”

At the bungalow in Maes y Wennol, a specially designed wet room has been created with a trolley bath offering comfort and dignity for bathing. In addition, a specialist ceiling track hoist has been designed into the tenants bedroom which runs through to the en-suite, making moving much easier and safer for the family. Another stand-alone ceiling track hoist has been situated in the lounge.

“Christine especially enjoys being moved in the hoist, and it has made so much difference to us. In the past our son, when visiting, used to carry Christine on his back from one room to the other. The hoists has made caring for Christine so much easier.”

“Moving here has altered Christine’s quality of life and the space, the specialist equipment and the design has helped me and my husband, in our care of Christine. We’re not getting any younger, but whilst we can, we want to continue to care for my sister. We are very grateful to everyone who has helped us.”

Wide corridors have been created in the newly built property, with large oval turning spaces giving enough room to accommodate the tenants’ wheelchair used by the carers. In addition, all entrances at the property have level access which has proved crucial for ease of access into and out of the bungalow.

Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Bernie Attridge, said: “Flintshire County Council works closely with all our housing association partners to meet the housing needs through the Specialist Housing Group. As the Cabinet Member for Housing, I know how important having your own home is to your health and well-being. I am delighted that Grŵp Cynefin has built this specially adapted property for Christine, and we look forward to working with and supporting them on future developments.”

Intergenerational work shortlisted for national award

Grŵp Cynefin is up for the Pat Chown Award, established by a national industry group, Community Housing Cymru to recognise creative solutions to issues in social housing.

And Grŵp Cynefin has earned a place on the shortlist for its intergenerational programme, which worked to reduce loneliness in older people living in rural communities.

The scheme brought primary school children on visits to Grŵp Cynefin’s extra-care centres to take part in activities including arts and crafts, singing, and reading to each other.

At Awel y Coleg, in Bala, four to seven year old school pupils and older tenants in their 70s, 80s and 90s teamed up to sing together under the guidance of professional musicians from the William Mathias Music Centre.

Following those sessions, a tenant in her eighties from Bala, Helen Margaret Roberts said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the sessions, as it bought both of my great joys together - singing and spending time with children. It’s been a breath of fresh air singing with the children, and has bought back to me some wonderful memories of my days teaching youngsters.”

Grŵp Cynefin’s annual older people’s day continued its drive to improve the well-being and social awareness of its tenants, as pupils from Rhyl’s Ysgol Dewi Sant visited to teach their older counterparts a traditional Welsh folk dance.

The winner will be announced at Community Housing Cymru’s One Big Housing Conference in October, with the organisation receiving a £1,000 donation to a Wales-based charity of its choice.

But the scheme is already a winner for the housing association, says Grŵp Cynefin community initiatives manager Mair Edwards.

She said: “We were aware of evidence that intergenerational work had been found to enhance well-being, and wanted to put this into practice.

“By communicating with children, our older tenants feel less isolated and are able to do things they might not normally do.

“Our slogan is ‘more than housing’ because of schemes like this – we want our residents to lead fulfilling lives and the programme helps us achieve that goal.”

Grŵp Cynefin appoints experienced strategic leads as non-executive directors

Clifton Robinson and Sharon Warnes join the Grŵp Cynefin board of management, which is responsible for the organisation’s strategic direction and governance, after distinguished careers in housing and local government respectively.

A former director of multiple housing associations, Clifton brings more than 30 years’ experience to the board.

His first taste of the industry was at a housing association in London, before a move to north Wales in 1988 led to director roles with housing organisations in the region.

He has also chaired the North Wales Probation Service board, and served as chief executive of the Housing Diversity Network, an equalities and training organisation to housing associations in England.

Sharon Warnes joins the board following a career in local government, where she worked closely with housing associations in north Wales as assistant strategic director for Gwynedd Council.

After her role at the local authority, she joined the Public Ombudsman Advisory board, where she helped protect the rights of consumers in Wales.

And the experienced housing head is bringing a focus on the next generation of tenants and homeowners to Grŵp Cynefin.

She said: “Grŵp Cynefin’s fabulous reputation precedes it and I hope my experience and insight, particularly in performance management and governance, can support it with its strategic aims.

“I am also keen to make sure children and young people have their say in the way the organisation is run, as they are the future.

“Joining Grŵp Cynefin’s management board offers great opportunities for us to go the extra mile for our tenants. I am keen to ensure the importance of language, culture, and the community-make up of our areas is safeguarded in the work that we do as an organisation.”

Clifton added: “I have a lot of admiration for the association, and I’m excited to be part of the journey as it continues to grow.

Grŵp Cynefin is an influential ambassador of the Welsh language and implements its slogan of ‘more than housing’ by running a number of community projects to help enrich the lives of the people it works with.

“I have already met tenants and staff at a community event, and look forward to supporting them through my knowledge of board-level management in housing.”

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin chief executive officer, said: “I’m pleased to welcome Clifton and Sharon, as their experience and diverse backgrounds will add to our board’s existing wide range of skills and abilities.

“Grŵp Cynefin is about to launch our new growth strategy, and I know that their wealth of experience will be invaluable as we move forward.

“I would also like to thank Paul Quirk, who stood down at our annual general meeting, for his support and active contribution over the years.”

For more information on the board of management click here.

Horses helping north Wales domestic abuse survivors recover

Women and girls are being given access to equine sports by support service Gorwel, in partnership with the Welsh Institute of Therapeutic Horsemanship (WITH), to help rehabilitation after instances of abuse.

WITH’s Overcoming Obstacles project helps women and girls become involved in horse agility and western trail riding to help build confidence and communication skills.

The sports participation scheme is funded by Comic Relief’s ‘Levelling the Field’ fund, which helps women get involved in sport they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Gorwel, which is run by Grŵp Cynefin, provides free transport to WITH’s Anglesey and Gwynedd sites for the programme’s users.

Gwyneth Williams, Gorwel manager, said: “We’re pleased to be able to offer a powerful activity to support vulnerable women and children who have suffered from domestic abuse.

“Horses can act as mirrors and communicate well to humans, so they’re perfect for helping people who have been through challenging periods in their lives.

“The project is particularly effective for recovering families as children can spend time with horses without spending money on private riding lessons.

“We have even had some go on to volunteer in Overcoming Obstacles sessions and compete in WITH’s Saturday Horse Agility League.”

WITH runs a number of training courses and workshops to build knowledge and confidence around horses. To find out more visit www.with.wales.

Gorwel employs a number of people working on different schemes to support the homeless, victims of domestic abuse, and people over 55 who need help to continue living independently, across Gwynedd, Anglesey and Denbighshire.

Around 90 per cent of its funding comes from the Welsh Government’s Supporting People programme, which gives housing-related support to help vulnerable people live as independently as possible.

Visit ‘Your Community’ to read more about Gorwel or call 0300 111 2122.

Grŵp Cynefin development gives back to Rhyl community

A housing development in Rhyl has helped two charities in the town as well as provided additional training opportunities for apprentices following the launch of a new initiative.

Grŵp Cynefin, which will manage the eight new flats on Brighton Road, set up a community benefits programme with construction company G M Jones.

The Kings Storehouse food bank received a £1,000 donation, which will be used to help build its permanent home at Rhyl Rugby Club on Vale Road.

The project also donated £1,000 to Rhyl City Strategy, which helps people with mental health conditions enter employment and build social skills. The charity is to build a kitchen and café with the funds, using the facility to help participants socialise and hold nutrition workshops.

The apprentices all gained practical work experience with G M Jones, which has delivered more than 170 weeks of training so far.

In addition, the project safeguarded six jobs and for every £1 spent on the development, an additional £1.92 was invested in the Welsh economy. Grŵp Cynefin also ensured the development supported Welsh businesses, with 88 per cent of spend on goods and services taking place in Wales.

Mike Bettany, who runs the Kings Storehouse food bank, said: “£1,000 has come at just the time. At the moment we’re in a container on the car park of Rhyl Rugby Club, but when the club moves out we are going to fit out a permanent base for the food bank.

“It’s going to involve tiling, redoing the floor and purchasing freezers, and the donation will go towards that.”

Elliott Llewellyn, apprentice joiner at GM Jones, said: “A lot of people on my college course haven’t had a complex job like this to get a wide range of experience. For example, I’ve been working on stair cases, which is not a common aspect of an apprenticeship.

“I’ve been able to have a wide range of training on different aspects of joinery, which has really helped me expand my portfolio.”

Dewi Llwyd Evans, sustainability and regeneration manager at Grŵp Cynefin, said: “Grwp Cynefin’s slogan is ‘more than housing’ and this project is a perfect example of it.

“We’re happy to say GM Jones has far exceeded the agreed amount of training time, which will help the apprentices progress in their careers.

“Rhyl City Strategy and The Kings Storehouse are on the front line helping people in Rhyl, so we knew our donations would go a long way and have a meaningful impact.

“The project demonstrates how community benefits can be delivered effectively, and we’ll be applying more initiatives like this to our future contracts.”

The development consists of eight flats, including one that has been adapted for disability living.

Grŵp Cynefin provides more than 4,800 rented homes and affordable properties to people across North Wales and north Powys.

Contemporary jeweller chosen as 2019 Eisteddfod Crown designer

Angela Evans said she wanted her design to be contemporary and unique yet respectful of the Eisteddfod’s traditions.

Designing and creating the Crown – which is sponsored by Grŵp Cynefin in 2019 - will fulfil a long-standing ambition for the jewellery designer.

Angela Evans: “I have always wanted to design and make an Eisteddfod Crown so I’m really excited to have won the commission.

“I’m hoping that it will create a unique centrepiece for the Eisteddfod that people will remember.

The Crown is a major National Eisteddfod honour and is presented to the winner of one of the two major poetry competitions.

Angela’s commission was selected by a panel made up of tenants, staff and board members and she was chosen ahead of several high-quality designers following a commissioning campaign led by Grwp Cynefin.

She will now finalise her design before starting work ahead of the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst in 2019.

Angela’s designs are inspired by the natural environment of Snowdonia, from the fern covered hillsides to the stunning sunsets on the water.

Angela gained her degree in Jewellery Design and Silversmithing at the Loughborough University, School of Art and Design in 2004 and completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Education in 2012.

Angela Evans was Chair of the ‘North Wales Jewellers Collective’ for 10 years and is a professional member of the Association of Contemporary Jewellers.

Angela’s workshop is at ‘Siop iard’ in Caernarfon, a space which she shares with two other artists. They opened a second shop in Pwllheli in 2015 which is operated by a further three artists. As well as the shop, she offers jewellery making courses throughout the year.

Angela regularly works on commissions and projects for both private and public clients and has exhibited her jewellery nationally.

Shan Lloyd Williams, Chief Executive for Grŵp Cynefin said: “As a proud Welsh Housing Association, we’re delighted to be able to play a prominent role by sponsoring the Crown.

“Angela is a hugely talented contemporary jeweller who will produce a distinctive Crown that will grace the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst next year.”

Fledgling businesses and start-ups are being given the opportunity to get on the right track

The Grade II listed building - to be known as Y Shed - will be extended with four shipping containers transformed into serviced and affordable business units.

The project is being spearheaded by Grŵp Cynefin and Meliden Residents Action Group and tenants are now being invited to register their interest in the spaces which will become available for hire when Y Shed, the first railway heritage attraction of its kind in Prestatyn, opens.

Mair Edwards, Community Initiatives Manager at Grŵp Cynefin, said: “Y Shed is in a fabulous location with views out over the Irish Sea and set against a backdrop of attractive countryside.

“Our units are a perfect stepping stone for people who may be running a business from home and looking for more space or wanting to take the next step and expand.

“Affordable and fully-serviced, they are ideal for smaller businesses. Given the location, they may also be particularly appealing to people working in creative industries who need additional space or are looking to work in an inspiring setting.”

Up to 50,000 people a year use the old railway line which, said Mair, would enable small and start-up businesses to reach new audiences.

“Every one of those people using the railway line is a potential customer not just for Y Shed, but the people who take on the business units. This development provides an opportunity for people to showcase their work, talent and services in an inspiring and unique location,” she added.

Interest is also being sought from caterers or existing food and beverage companies which may be interested in running Y Shed’s 80-seater café.

“ Y Shed’s focus is on healthy living – it will be a great stopping off point for people walking, cycling, or running the Prestatyn-Dyserth way. We’re keen to hear from people or companies, particularly those with an interest in using local produce and creating wholesome dishes, who might be interested in running the café on our behalf,” added Mair.

Anyone wanting to register an interest in the units or the café and require further details should get in contact with Grŵp Cynefin via yshed@grwpcynefin.org or by calling the Community Initiatives Team on 0300 111 2122.

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Grŵp Cynefin scoops a prestigious award for tackling loneliness in the elderly

Grŵp Cynefin claimed first place in the community partnership category at the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) Wales Cymru awards for its intergenerational programmes, which bring young and older people together.

The awards, established more than 20 years ago, focus on the role tenants play in creating social housing communities.

Grŵp Cynefin’s work has been hailed a success after its residents reported feeling happier, more confident, and less lonely after taking part in the scheme.

Grŵp Cynefin’s first programme helped residents from Awel y Coleg and pupils from Ysgol Bro Tryweryn in Bala discover their musical talents with interactive sessions led by professional musicians.

Grŵp Cynefin then teamed up with Ysgol Pen Barras in Ruthin, with pupils visiting a local residence to read books, dance, and make arts and crafts alongside the elderly tenants.

Intergenerational work was also the theme at Grŵp Cynefin’s older people’s day in April 2018. Primary school children from Ysgol Dewi Sant and Ysgol Glan Morfa attended the event to take in part in folk dancing, singing, and arts and crafts.

Grŵp Cynefin also tasted success in the community action category, as its Denbigh ‘Youth Shedz’ project came out runner up for its work with vulnerable young people.

Catherine Jones, a Grŵp Cynefin tenant of more than 25 years, was named runner up in the tenant of the year category, with Chloe Villis also in second place for young tenant of the year.

Mair Edwards, community initiatives manager at Grŵp Cynefin, said: “To win the community partnership award and be recognised in the other categories means so much for everyone involved.

“Our slogan is ‘more than housing’, because it’s important to us that our tenants live socially fulfilling lives.

“Studies have shown interaction with young people can reduce loneliness and depression in the elderly, and our tenants tell us how much they enjoy the interaction and how it gives them a chance to learn new skills from the children.

“The school’s teachers have also seen the children’s communication improving from being able to speak to people who they may not get a chance to interact with usually.”

Shan L Williams, Chief Executive of Grŵp Cynefin, said: “We welcome this recognition of our work, on supporting and driving forward tenant participation across the work of the organisation. By doing so, there are plenty of opportunities through a wide range of activities for tenants to increase confidence, skills and enable them to contribute to our work.

“Our Annual General Meeting on 18 of July 2018 will showcase the type of work delivered by our Community Initiatives Team in partnership with Dr Catrin Hedd Jones, Psychologist and Lecturer from Bangor University.”

A slice of Victorian history discovered within a rundown railway shed

Keen to know more about their find, charitable housing association Grŵp Cynefin, the or-ganisation working with Meliden Residents Action Group to transform the old shed, showed the bottles to Rhyl History Club.

It was revealed that one of the bottles was 123 years old with the others dating back 85 years. All originated from nearby Rhyl. It is believed the bottles may have been left behind by workers or passengers at the old goods shed which is currently being transformed into a community hub with café, history tunnels, and artisan units.

Mair Edwards, Community Initiatives Manager for Grŵp Cynefin, said: “Unearthing these bottles is something we really didn’t expect and are rare finds. They are in good condition and some even have the original marble stoppers in place.

“We can only imagine people working on the line, Meliden’s mines or people passing through on the railway had cast them to one side, never imagining we’d go on to find them 100 years or so later.”

It is believed the bottles originated from a mineral water works, which was based in

Windsor Street, Rhyl, and known as the ‘pop works.’ One, bearing the name A.B. Jordan is believed to date back to around 1895.

“We knew the bottles were old but, at the time, didn’t realise the link with the neighbouring town of Rhyl. Rhyl History Club was able to provide a lot of background and, after some delving through copies of the local newspaper of the time, the Rhyl Record and Advertiser, more light has been shed on our discovery.

“We now know the mineral water company changed hands in 1896 which would account for the different styles in colour and shape – one is made of brown glass and the others are clear, putting their manufacture at a later date. The bottles are in need of a gentle

clean but otherwise, they’re perfectly preserved and a wonderful slice of local history,” added Mair.

It is hoped the bottles will go on display when the transformation of the building — to be called Y Shed — is complete and open to the public.

Grŵp Cynefin’s Pen Llŷn enterprise centre goes from strength to strength

Congl Meinciau enterprise centre in Botwnnog, Pen Llŷn is proud that over 80 people have boosted the local economy, thanks to contact with the centre during the past seven years.

Over the next few weeks, more people will come into contact with the centre as two companies, Imbyll Design, a creative bilingual design company and Charismatic Cat Candles, a fragrant soy candles and wax melts company, move their business into the centre to work.

Congl Meinciau’s manager, Darren Morley, says the centre has succeeded in its original purpose of securing employment opportunities and skills in the area: “It has also brought an economic boost to this rural area of Llŷn as well as ensuring that homes have been built for local people, as part of the original development.

“No doubt, it was not an easy project to get up off the ground, but there is continued growth here, as small businesses set up and individuals take the first step to becoming self-employed and use the resources available here.”

Soon, eleven companies will work from the site:

  1. Daffodil Foods, a Welsh yoghurt production company
  2. Cegin Grug, a deli, caterers and meat roasting company
  3. Geriach Glesni, a unique personalised gifts company
  4. Dunchurch Compliance Solutions Ltd, a fraud and financial crime prevention company
  5. Tŷ Newydd, pub and restaurant in Sarn
  6. Amcan, film making, events and project management, design, website creation and marketing company
  7. Cymorth Llaw, home care and home health care service company
  8. Partneriaeth Llŷn, a project that brings together various environmental, statutory, educational and community agencies to work together and share information about Llŷn heritage to local people and visitors.
  9. North Wales Bowen Therapy, a complimentary hands-on therapy company that encourages the body to use its inner abilities to heal itself.
  10. Charasmatic Cat Candles, a fragrant soy candles and wax melts company
  11. Imbyll Design, a creative design company that creates websites, brands, and project management that tailors its services to client needs.

Only two units will now be available in the centre - one perfect for a small business that is keen to establish itself and a large office space for a growing company.

Darren Morley added: “The resources here include two workshops, drop in resources where individuals can hot desk, meeting rooms and training. Plus on Friday and Saturday, the cafe is open for a cuppa or for a lunch break with colleagues or friends.”

The centre’s staff also co-ordinates business and training events with projects such as Business Wales. Individuals can get free one-to-one business advice on site and register interest in attending training sessions such as health and safety, GDPR, first aid, etc.

For more information, contact Congl Meinciau on 01758 770000. A brand new website will soon be available with the entire centre’s information.

Housing association shortlisted at national social housing awards

Grŵp Cynefin is shortlisted in four different categories at the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) Wales Cymru awards 2018.

The awards, established more than 20 years ago, focus on the role tenants play in creating social housing communities.

Grŵp Cynefin’s shortlisted work includes schemes that help young people learn life skills, older people interact with children, and ex-homeless people build new lives and careers.

The housing association’s intergenerational work has been selected for the community partnership of the year shortlist.

Grŵp Cynefin has organised a number of events to encourage interaction between age groups, including an older people’s day in April. Local primary school children and tenants aged from 55 to 98 engaged in arts and crafts and folk dancing together.

The group’s ‘Youth Shedz’ programme is shortlisted in the community action category after it was set up to provide vulnerable young people with a safe space to build confidence.

The project, suggested by former homeless young people receiving training from Grŵp Cynefin, supports young adults’ mental health with activities including furniture restoration and woodworking.

Grŵp Cynefin tenant Catherine Jones has been shortlisted for tenant of the year after spending 25 years with the housing association.

Following a seven-year battle with depression, Catherine became involved with a number of community groups to become the current mayor of Denbigh and the first single parent female to hold the role.

And Chloe Thomas has made the shortlist for young tenant of the year, having become a tenant when she was placed in a supported housing project at 16.

After taking on life skills education provided by Grŵp Cynefin’s Gorwel project, Chloe now volunteers at Cynefin’s Denbigh Hwb and has completed a college course in animal care.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Cardiff on July 5.

Mair Edwards, community initiatives manager at Grŵp Cynefin said: “The fact that we have representation in four categories speaks volumes about the work behind our slogan; ‘more than housing’.

“It’s important that our tenants have every chance to live satisfying lives, which is why we put emphasis on community groups and projects for all to be involved in.

“No matter what happens on the night, all those up for an award can be proud of the fact they have helped improve the lives of others and themselves.”

Grŵp Cynefin provides more than 4,800 rented homes and affordable properties to people across North Wales and north Powys.

Grŵp Cynefin takes lead by specifying Welsh timber for Welsh homes

As a progressive social housing provider Grŵp Cynefin has specified Welsh timber for our scheme of 24 apartments now under construction in Buckley town centre.

And residents will also benefit from a significant reduction in energy costs, thanks to a further Grŵp Cynefin specification to optimise energy-efficiency.

Built on the site of the former Buckley Medical Centre, the £2.2m two-storey timber-framed building will comprise 14 two- and ten one-bedroom apartments. Being developed in partnership with Flintshire County Council, one section of its roof will comprise photo-voltaic (PV) panels, helping minimise running costs for the all-electric properties.

The timber is from Sitka spruce tree sourced from forests around a sawmill in Newbridge, near Llandrindod Wells, mid-Wales. The frames are manufactured in Bala and delivered in small batches for assembly on site.

With a current stock of 4,800 properties across north Wales and north Powys, Grŵp Cynefin also now has a total of £25m of new properties in the pipeline – its biggest ever forward-order book.

Grŵp Cynefin Director of Regeneration Services, Dylan Roberts, said: “Wales has acres and acres of timber. We want to do our bit to help the forestry sector to grow, so that it could become viable for farmers to grow more trees – and create rural jobs.

“Furthermore, Grŵp Cynefin has always been a supporter of using the local supply chain wherever it develops a new site. Williams Homes Bala won the tender to be the contractor, and we’re pleased that Wrexham Paving is among local sub-contractors.

“Another benefit of timber frame construction using modules manufactured off-site is that, unlike with bricks and mortar, construction does not have to stop when it freezes or when there’s a lot of rain or snow. So it also minimises delays.”

Williams Homes managing director, Owain Williams, said his firm was employing an average of 30 workers on site at any given time. He added: “We’re a family firm that is passionate about low-carbon construction. We like working with Grŵp Cynefin because it is a forward-thinking registered social landlord.”

Grŵp Cynefin is a founding member of Woodknowledge Wales, (WKW), which seeks to increase demand for indigenous timber, thereby boosting rural employment and encouraging forest expansion on marginal farmland.

WKW Chief Executive, Gary Newman, said: “A total of 82 per cent of new houses in Scotland are based upon timber frame. In Wales, that figure is 30 per cent.

“We can massively increase construction using Welsh timber, creating rural jobs and also leading to higher energy-performance homes, which in turn supports Wales’ ambition to become a carbon-neutral economy.

“I absolutely love that Grŵp Cynefin is taking this lead in specifying Welsh timber.”

The development, which is close to Buckley town centre shopping precinct and a supermarket, is due for completion in spring 2019.

Pioneering Caring Dads programme that prevents children going into care set to launch

The Caring Dads programme, which until now has run in Anglesey and Gwynedd, has already prevented several dozens of children from having to be taken into care, as fathers rebuild positive relationships with their families.

Now, the scheme is expanding to help dads in Conwy and Denbighshire develop healthy father-child relationships, so their children can continue to live safely at home within the family.

And the call has gone out to health visitors, midwives, social services, GPs and other agencies to refer fathers for the free programme. Fathers can also refer themselves directly.

Caring Dads is run by the domestic abuse support service Gorwel, partnered with Caring Dads Canada. Gorwel is managed by housing association Grŵp Cynefin.

The Conwy programme will launch on 2 July in Llandudno Junction, and the Denbighshire programme will start on 24 July in Rhyl. Each comprises 17 sessions.

Programme leader, therapeutic social worker Paul Jones, said that participants so far had ranged from a first-time father aged 17, to a father in his sixties.

“They also come from across the social spectrum. Participants have included a homeless man and a university-educated, professionally-qualified father. In our latest cohort, a total of 26 men were referred, whose behaviours were impacting 48 children and 22 women,” he said.

Caring Dads aims to increase participants’ awareness of attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that form father-child relationships, increase their responsibility for abusive and neglectful behaviour and develop awareness of child-centred fathering.

Research indicates that effective engagement with fathers increases the positive contribution they have on their children’s lives. This in turn results in a range of emotional, physical and cognitive benefits for their children.

Paul added: “So far, dozens of children have been removed from the Child Protection Register and have not needed to be placed in local authority care. Families have stayed together.

“Obviously the safety and welfare of the children is paramount, but you cannot ignore the fact that it can cost £1,000 per week to keep one child in care, and for a child with special requirements it can be between £3,000 and 4,000 per week. This is taxpayers’ money via the local authority.

“Caring Dads is building a really good reputation. The courts like it and make referrals, and our expansion into Conwy and Denbighshire has received a grant from the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.

“We get a steady stream of referrals from agencies in North West Wales, because they have seen it keeps together the families they are working with. Now, we’re starting to publicise it among agencies in Conwy and Denbighshire. ”

All participants are assessed to decide their suitability for the programme.

For more information on the Caring Dads programme, including details of how to take part in the programme, contact Paul Jones or Megan Williams on: 01248 750903; email gorwel@gorwel.org; or visit the Caring Dads website at www.pauljonesisw.co.uk

Fresh new scheme takes holistic approach to help people with complex multiple support needs

The new service, which is being set up by Gorwel, a unit within Grŵp Cynefin housing association, will be available to social and private tenants, as well as owner-occupiers.

The initiative is the first of its kind which provides intensive support, with a remit to help the most vulnerable people live as independently as possible by addressing all their problems together.

Funded by Gwynedd Council’s Supporting People Team, a full-time Gorwel caseworker will work one-to-one with individuals or households deemed to have the most complex needs.

Carina Roberts, Director of Grŵp Cynefin Community Services explained:

“It fills a gap to give intense support to the most vulnerable people for whom a single service is not enough.

“It is holistic, and for people with a combination of issues such as rough sleeping, hoarding, substance misuse, an offending background, mental health or low-level learning disability.

“It’s also available if you have a roof over your head, but are at risk of losing the tenancy because of these problems.”

“It’s exciting and fresh and a different way of thinking. We are going to be looking at different ways of dealing with these issues.

“We’ll be promoting inter-agency working, getting specialists from different services round the same table to put together the best package of support.

“For the first time, we’ll be able to help people who need support the most, but have previously benefited from a single service, then slipped through the net.

“It’ll be led by the person receiving the service. This means they will get exactly the support package to meet their needs. We’ll be helping people to improve their lives for the long term.”

Initially, people will be referred from the Arfon area already assessed as eligible for the service.

Once established, it will also be possible for people to self-refer to the scheme, which has funding for two years with a possible extension for a further 12 months.

Arwel Wyn Owen, Senior Housing Manager at Gwynedd Council commented “we welcome the development of this innovative service and holistic approach to Support People with multiple needs.”

Gorwel employs 50 people working on different schemes to support the homeless, victims of domestic abuse, and people over 55 who need help to continue living independently, across Gwynedd, Anglesey and Denbighshire. Around 90 per cent of its funding comes from the Welsh Government’s Supporting People programme, which gives housing-related support to help vulnerable people live as independently as possible.

Design ideas sought for 2019 Conwy County National Eisteddfod crown

Shan Lloyd Williams, chief executive of Grŵp Cynefin, said: “It is a great privilege for us to be given the opportunity to commission the 2019 National Eisteddfod crown at Conwy county.

“As a Welsh housing organisation firmly rooted in north Wales, we see this as a huge privilege to work with our national festival to celebrate Welsh culture and language.

“As an employer of over 200 people and an organisation with almost 5,000 homes, it is our communities that are involved in the preparation activities supporting and facilitating the Eisteddfod in 2019, so it is a privilege to support these communities and present the crown.”

Grŵp Cynefin is keen to invite craftspeople to express an interest in designing and creating the crown. The craftmaker has the opportunity to create the crown from any material provided it is durable, lightweight and from a permanent material.

The crown is the most acclaimed prize of the National Eisteddfod and is presented at a special ceremony for the winner of one of the two main poetry competitions at the festival.

Elen Elis, National Eisteddfod Organiser said: “We are delighted that Grŵp Cynefin is sponsoring the crown at Conwy County National Eisteddfod 2019, and we are grateful to receive local support for such an important competition. We look forward to working with them and in the near future seeing the initial design for the crown. We hope there will be a worthy winner!

“The competitions for the Eisteddfod will be announced on the 7th of July, at the time of the proclamation in Conwy, where the 2019 competition list will be presented by the Chair of the Local Eisteddfod Executive to the Archdruid.”

Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin said: “In terms of the brief, we are keen for the crown to reflect Grŵp Cynefin’s principles of providing quality homes, developing sustainable communities where people want to live and deliver excellent services. We want the crown to convey our vision of providing ‘more than housing’ to showcase our work of supporting Welsh rural communities in areas such as the Conwy Valley and surrounding areas, where the Eisteddfod will be held in 2019.”

The final presented design will need to be approved by the Gorsedd Bards before commencing work.

A concept for the crown (less than 500 words) must be presented, with the option of submitting images, if desired, by email before 5pm, on Monday 2 July 2018.

Full details for the whole application process can be obtained by contacting Awel Morris on awel.morris@grwpcynefin.org, by calling 0300 111 2122 or download the brief below.

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Holyhead homes almost ready for local families to move into

Shan Lloyd Williams visited the scheme at Hen Briordy, in the heart of Holyhead, to hear that local families will soon be preparing to move into the almost completed first phase of six three-bed new homes.

The properties have been funded by a combination of Anglesey Council and Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places programme, which has meant a substantial investment in the town of Holyhead, and Grŵp Cynefin funding. The total investment in phase one is £750,000.

Work is now under way on the second and final phase, to build eight one-bedroom apartments, also for local people, in a cul-de-sac at the rear of the site.

The investment of £662,000 for the second phase has been sourced from the Welsh Government’s Social Housing Grant Fund.

Commissioned specifically in response to a need for family houses and one-bed apartments in the Holyhead area, the new properties are located close to the port at the foot of the rock housing the town’s landmark grade II listed Skinner’s Monument. The site was formally a health and social care resource centre.

Local contractor, B C Services (Anglesey) Ltd, of Caergeiliog, Holyhead, carried out the construction work.

Shan Lloyd Williams said: “This is our first building contract with BC Services, and it’s great to see the first phase of six three bed houses almost complete. The homes should be ready to move into by July this year.

“It has been a great experience to visit the site as the former Head of Housing Services for the Council in charge of housing, and now in my new post as Chief Executive of Grŵp Cynefin, I am about to see these homes being allocated to local families.

“During my visit, I also heard that the contractor has been working with Môn CF, to offer apprenticeship opportunities. I was also closely involved with the development of Môn CF whilst working for the Council, and I’m immensely proud that young people have been offered career opportunities as part of the development.”

The apartments are due for completion by March 2019.

If you’d like further information about our new developments in Anglesey, call us on 0300 111 2122 or email post@grwpcynefin.org.

New affordable homes register to help people secure their dream home

The Tai Teg register has been launched in a partnership between the region’s housing associations, local authorities, and the National Park Authority to simplify how people apply for an affordable home.

A number of schemes are available for those in employment and earning between £16,000 and £45,000, with some options catering for those earning up to £60,000.

Grŵp Cynefin is leading the project. In addition to Grŵp Cynefin, partners include The Snowdonia National Park Authority, as well as seven local authorities: Conwy County Borough Council, Denbighshire County Council, Flintshire County Council, Gwynedd Council, Powys County Council, Wrexham County Council, and Isle of Anglesey County Council.

The other associations involved are Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, Pennaf Housing Group, North Wales Housing, Wales & West Housing, and Cartrefi Conwy.

An affordable home is one that is provided at less than market value, either for rent or purchase. Tai Teg does not include social housing, with people advised to continue to access the relevant council housing register in their area.

Grŵp Cynefin chief executive Shan Lloyd Williams said: “Tai Teg will streamline the process of registering for and securing an affordable home in North Wales and Powys.

“I urge individuals who are seeking to rent or purchase an affordable home to sign up. Even if you have registered in the past, you must re-register but your original registration date will remain.

“A number of innovative schemes are available that will help people get onto the property ladder or secure a rented home. Interested parties can also find out more about the criteria and available properties on a dedicated website for Tai Teg.

“We would also like to speak to developers about how affordable homes can play an important role for them on their individual sites.”

The register will be used to comment on planning applications and support local authorities and housing associations to plan for future developments.

To find out more and register interest in a home, visit www.taiteg.org.uk.

Young and old come together at Grŵp Cynefin event

Grŵp Cynefin held its older people’s conference at the Kinmel Manor, Abergele, which is held every two years, to promote the positive effects of children and the elderly working together.

Close to 60 of the housing group’s tenants, aged between 55 and 98, enjoyed a day of activities with six and seven-year old pupils from Ysgol Dewi Sant in Rhyl. They teamed up with the pupils in an arts and crafts task, before joining in with a Welsh folk dance taught by the children.

Dr Catrin Hedd Jones, a psychologist from Bangor University, gave a talk to the residents on her findings from studying intergenerational care. Dr Catrin’s research involved taking young children to interact with elderly people at day care centres, and her results show that it had a positive social effect on both age groups.

The day ended with the elderly guests enjoying a choir performance from Abergele-based primary school Ysgol Glan Morfa.

Mair Edwards, community initiatives manager at Grŵp Cynefin, said: “The event’s main theme was health and wellbeing with a focus on isolation, which is a big issue for the older generation.

“Along with participating in the children’s activities, our partners were on hand to give tenants information on how to ensure they are living healthily and happily.

“Our slogan is ‘more than housing’, as it’s important to us that our residents have fulfilling social lives – events like this go a long way in helping us achieve that goal.”

More information about our Extra Care Housing is available here.

Work begins on developing Pentre Canol, the extra care housing scheme for older people in Denbigh

In a £12million investment, the Pentre Canol scheme at Middle Lane, Denbigh will see the construction of an extra care housing scheme for older people that offers independent living in 71 individual flats but also giving people the opportunity to enjoy and relax within some communal facilities.

Dylan Roberts, Director of Regeneration Services at Grŵp Cynefin said: “This scheme is a breath of fresh air for Denbigh, on the site of the former grammar school which has been declining for many years. We are pleased to begin the work on site and start the journey of developing the area to offer quality homes for older people of the area.”

Pentre Canol is a partnership project between Grŵp Cynefin and Denbighshire County Council with financial support coming from the Welsh Government. The new quality facility in Denbigh will offer older people the opportunity to live independently in individual flats, taking advantage of communal facilities available for eating, recreational and social activities.

The development will consist of 42 two-bedroom apartments and 29 one-bedroom apartments for people who want to live independently, but with support packages available if needed. Individuals who may need more formal care will also have a specifically designed living accommodation within the facility.

Starting work on the site, Grŵp Cynefin is proud to be able to work on a development of this size with local contractor, R L Davies from Colwyn Bay. The association has a good working relationship with R L Davies, who has collaborated on a number of development projects in the past. As part of the scheme, the construction company will ensure that many community and economic benefits remain locally and that apprenticeship or training opportunities for young people are part of the construction work on the site.

Delyth Davies, Commercial Manager at R L Davies said: “After months of discussion, planning and preparation, it’s always great to start the work on the site. Our team of staff will work diligently at Pentre Canol to reach the end goal of creating purpose built, quality homes for the elderly residents of the area. We look forward to working with Grŵp Cynefin and the local community over the coming months.”

Welcoming the news, Denbighshire Councillor Bobby Feeley, Lead member for well-being and independence said: “Older people will benefit from this high quality scheme, the north Wales economy will benefit during the development process, whilst Denbighshire and more importantly the town benefits from the economic wealth that the association, its staff and this project brings into our community. But most of all we will, in partnership, be working to meet the needs of older people with the respect and dignity they fully deserve.”

It is anticipated that Pentre Canol development will be finished during spring 2020.

Local builders merchant donate products and labour to refurb garden

Referred to Gorwel, Grwp Cynefin’s in house support provider, which provides a range of support services for older people, people affected by domestic abuse and homelessness, the service users’ wish was to make the garden more private to be able to enjoy family time in the open doors.

Osian Elis Homelessness Prevention Co-ordinator, Gorwel said, “The tenant was referred to Gorwel in December 2016 with complex health issues and rarely left the house. Being restricted to two rooms in the property Gorwel asked if they could assist to help make his garden more accessible.

“After sourcing materials and labour it was all hands on deck, with family members also digging deep, to complete the project. Today the garden is fully accessible to the tenant with large raised planters so that the tenant can plant flowers as well as a vegetable patch. A little play house has also been built so that the tenant can watch his grandchildren play in the garden.

“We can’t thank the local businesses enough for their generosity and support and for providing such a super end result. The garden has been completely transformed into a light and welcoming space and is now the perfect environment for the service users.”

If you’d like to find out more about Gorwel Click here.

Before
Before
During
During

Garden finished
Finished

Finished

Youth Shedz

A new initiative, Youth Shedz, which aims to provide a safe place for young people, to proactively engage and develop new skills is due to open its doors in Denbigh this month. Based on a similar concept to Men’s Sheds, the Youth Shedz will work closely with Men’s Sheds, She Sheds and Veterans Sheds in the locality.

In January 2017, Scott Jenkinson, of 4:28 Training was commissioned by Grŵp Cynefin to work with a group of young people from Yr Hafod, a supported housing project for young people aged between 16-24. Always looking for an opportunity to promote activity based, experiential learning, Scott challenged the group of young people to come up with a solution for anti-social behaviour and lack of engagement amongst young people. The first step was for the youngsters to reflect on their own lives in the town of Denbigh and research into anti-social behaviour, the costs to society and the contributing factors.

As a result of this research, the young people came up with the concept that they needed a space to positively engage in something productive, a place to be listened to and a place to learn new skills in an environment surrounded by positive role models. The seed was sown and the Youth Shedz project was born, the first of its kind in Wales. From the very beginning the young people have been at the centre of the project, ensuring ground-up co-production resulting in a young person’s project that is created, developed and ultimately be run by the young people.

The first Youth Shedz project is being launched in Denbigh but the vision is that every town in Wales will eventually have their own project, Mair Edwards, Community Initiatives Manager at Grŵp Cynefin said, “Young people need to be listened to, encouraged and even sometimes challenged and we hope that the Youth Shedz will enable young people to engage and recognise a positive bright, prosperous future for themselves. It will also help young people develop resilience, improve confidence and self-esteem, reduce social isolation and promote positive mental health and well-being.”

In parallel it is hoped the project will provide volunteering opportunities for the wider community that are economically inactive or who have complex barriers to employment. These adults will be offered training and support to develop skills and mentor young people attending the Youth Shedz.

Following initial funding from Grŵp Cynefin the group of youngsters identified the space they wanted and went about to refurbish,decorate and fit out the space with work stations and work benches. They designed their logo and worked with a local graffiti artist to develop their new sign.

Young people will have the opportunity to undertake accredited bespoke Agored qualifications written by 4:28 Training in team working, volunteering, digital literacy, health and safety etc. Scott is currently in talks with Agored Cymru to create a Youth Shedz Young Person’s Award, Certificate and Diploma that can be delivered at the Youth Shedz ensuring that all Youth Shedz participants will have an opportunity to be accredited for the work that they do and gain nationally recognised qualifications.

Alongside the qualifications offered the Youth Shedz space will also become a hub for other positive engagement opportunities, such as promoting getting active by linking in with Sport Wales initiatives, Social Coaching and fund raising for local and global charities.

Already praised by local Assembly Member, Mark Isherwood, Youth Shedz is now ready to open with the space being used to develop a range of practical projects from woodwork, furniture restoration, jewellery, to bike repair.

Board member urges  first-time would-be directors to apply for Grŵp  Cynefin vacancy

A call has gone out for people with an interest in the housing sector, who also have business experience, to apply for a vacancy on the board of Grŵp Cynefin housing association. And first-time applicants should not be put off, says recently-appointed member, Elen Williams.

The housing association, which manages 4,600 properties across North Wales and North Powys, is seeking an additional non-executive director to join its 10-strong management board, which is ultimately responsible for all the organisation’s activities.

Elen Williams joined its board in July 2017. A marketing professional by background, Elen’s day job is as an executive director of Menter a Busnes, an independent company that helps individuals, businesses and organisations in Wales contribute towards developing the economy.

She said: “I decided to apply because Grŵp Cynefin has a very good reputation in terms of the services that they deliver and their innovative approaches.

I had heard a lot of good things on the grapevine about the organisation.

“Grŵp Cynefin’s values are the same as those of Menter a Busnes, in terms of the use of the Welsh language, its community development and its interest in encouraging people to become economically active.

“The time commitment as a non-executive director is reasonable. You are asked to commit equivalent to 12-15 days a year. The meetings tend to be in the evenings. There is some training as well, but this can be flexible, and be held in the daytime or evening.”

A resident of Porthmadog, Elen graduated from Cardiff University in social policy before starting her career in customer care and sales, working for Ifor Williams Trailers, in Denbighshire, for four years.

In 2002, she joined Menter a Busnes as a development officer supporting business start-ups in Powys. An independent company, Menter a Busnes helps individuals, businesses and organisations in Wales contribute towards developing the economy.

At the same time, Elen, with her husband, Arwel, started a property business, providing holiday lets and student accommodation.

A holder of the professional diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Elen progressed her career at Menter a Busnes until, in 2009, she was appointed a director.

She said: “In particular, I can bring business planning and marketing expertise to the Grŵp Cynefin role.

“From my personal and my own career point of view, I also get out of the role opportunities to network, and to learn about the different culture in another organisation. It’s also sometimes a good Sanity check of what we are doing in our own company.

“I urge anyone who has started to think about applying for a non-executive director role, and who wants to contribute to such a vital community organisation, to consider applying.

“You don’t have to have a background in or knowledge of the housing sector. You should not be scared, as this is not a requirement. If you have a good knowledge of business or experience in a certain discipline, go for it.”

For further details of the vacancy, please see letter and information pack or please contact Eleri Jones on 01745 818404 / e-mail eleri.jones@grwpcynefin.org to arrange an informal chat with Shan Ll. Williams, Chief Executive.

Closing date: Monday 23 April 2018.

Great investment for local housing in the village of Cemaes

Work has begun to develop much needed homes in an Anglesey community during recent weeks.

14 new homes will be built in the village of Cemaes, Anglesey during the next twelve months as part of Grŵp Cynefin’s drive to support local communities looking for a variety of different homes on the site.

The homes at Ffordd y Felin, Cemaes are being developed by a local Anglesey company, D U Construction Ltd, based at Parc Penrhos, Holyhead, ensuring a welcome boost to the local economy.

Working in partnership with Anglesey County Council, Grŵp Cynefin will develop:

  • 4 (two bedroom) bungalows
  • 6 (two bedroom) houses
  • 4 (three bedroom) houses

Gwyndaf Williams, Development Manager at Grŵp Cynefin said: “This is a major development for a small village like Cemaes and we’re pleased to get started on site. We’ve worked closely with the local authority to recognise the housing needs of the area, worked with the planners to design a site that suits the locality and are now developing a mix of homes that will assist in bridging the need for more quality homes in some of north Wales’ rural communities.”

The new homes will be in addition to Grŵp Cynefin’s 4,550 houses included within the association’s property portfolio. Working across north Wales and north Powys, Grŵp Cynefin strives to provide high-quality affordable homes that meet local community needs.

Further updates regarding the Anglesey site will be shared, as the work progresses.

CIH Cymru and Grŵp Cynefin welcome  Minister to the first in a series roundtable discussions

The Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Rebecca Evans AM, will attend a roundtable discussion at Grŵp Cynefin offices in Holyhead on 15 March.

This session is the first in a series of informal round-tables with CIH Cymru members and partners that the Minister has agreed to take part in around Wales.

The aim is to allow housing professionals, at all levels, to discuss the key issues facing the housing sector, and this particular session is being held in partnership with Grŵp Cynefin at its Penucheldre
Extra Care Scheme in Holyhead.

Matt Dicks, Director of CIH Cymru said: “It’s fantastic that the Minister has agreed to take part in these informal roundtables with CIH Cymru members.

“It demonstrates that the Welsh Government is serious about listening to the voice of the sector and hearing about the issues that members face on a daily basis.

“They are the ones at the coalface, delivering on the government’s strategy to tackle homelessness, and the shortage in supply of social and affordable housing.

“I would also like to thank Grŵp Cynefin for agreeing to host the event.”

Minister for Housing and Regeneration Rebecca Evans said: “I want to listen and learn from the experience of the people working in the housing sector, to understand from them what is working and what we need to do differently.

“Working together, I believe we can achieve a great deal to improve the lives of people in Wales, and to ensure that everybody has access to safe, high quality and affordable accommodation.”

Grŵp Cynefin, Chief Executive Shan Lloyd Williams said: “We are delighted to host the first ever CIH Cymru round table meeting with the Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Rebecca Evans AM.

“During our meeting we will be sharing our vision for Grwp Cynefin, and indeed the Welsh Housing sector, with the Minister, which is to provide high quality homes, excellent services and develop sustainable communities where people wish to live.

“We will also take the opportunity to raise issues facing tenants and households living in rural communities.”

Right to Buy abolished in Wales

The right of housing association tenants to buy or acquire their home will end on 26th January 2019.

Welsh Government has published an information guide to help explain what tenants need to know about the end of the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire, and what you should do if you are a tenant thinking about applying to buy your home: Click here to download other formats are also available here.

Four local authorities in Wales currently have a Right to Buy suspension in place and therefore the Right To Buy and the Right to Acquire no longer exists. The counties we operate in which are effected as a result of this suspension include: Denbighshire, Flintshire and Isle of Anglesey.

Further information can also be found on how the legislation was passed on the National Assembly for Wales website click here.

The end of the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire will not affect Grŵp Cynefin tenants in any other way.

If you need any further information, please contact us on 0300 111 2122 or email post@grwpcynefin.org

Downloads

Walis George career highlights on the eve of his retirement as Grŵp Cynefin Chief Executive

After 26 years working in the north Wales housing sector, Walis George, Chief Executive of Grŵp Cynefin housing association will retire from office this month.

Amongst his career highlights, he lists the formation of Grŵp Cynefin housing association back in 2014; developing the Congl Meinciau Enterprise Centre in Pen Llŷn and establishing the first Rural Housing Enabler service in north Wales.

“There are so many things I could list as career highlights,” Walis George explains, “but I’m very proud of the formation of Grŵp Cynefin. The core values ​​of both Cymdeithas Tai Eryri and Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd who were amalgamated in 2014 to form Grŵp Cynefin are as relevant and vibrant today.”

Working with rural communities to try and meet housing needs is the main purpose of the association, giving young people and families the opportunity to continue to live in their communities and offering regeneration opportunities to areas that are struggling.

“In addition, thriving communities ensure that the Welsh language and its culture are also given an opportunity to prosper in rural areas and that vision is something that has always been important to me over the years, as well as our Management Board members and our team of staff too,” he said.

As he prepares to bid farewell to over 200 Grŵp Cynefin staff, the fact that the housing association provides a fully bilingual service is a credit to Walis George, the leadership team and its Board members.

“Apparently as an organisation that works across the north, the fact that the vast majority of our staff are fluent Welsh speakers is fairly unique.

“The success of establishing Grŵp Cynefin is a credit to our staff and it is thanks to them that we now have 4,550 houses in our property portfolio today and that the society’s work continues to grow. I am proud to retire with the association in a sound financial position, with a great reputation among our tenants and stakeholders and strong enough to withstand any future challenges.”

The desire to raise a family in a Welsh community saw Walis George and his Flintshire born wife, move to north Wales in 1991. As a young boy raised in Llanelli, he was the only child from his street to attend the local Welsh medium school, Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant.

After a period working as a civil servant in Llanelli and Aberystwyth, he spent three years working for the Welsh Language Society before gaining a position as a Housing Officer for the Secondary Housing Association for Wales covering the south Wales valleys. Antur Nantlle was his first destination after moving north and a year later, he started his career at Cymdeithas Tai Eryri.

He recalls the difficult period during his early years persuading the government, politicians and financers of the local need to build new homes in specific communities.

“Buying and renovating houses was Cymdeithas Tai Eryri’s main work ethos during those early years. There was considerable opposition to building houses in rural areas, and serious work to persuade the authorities that building quality affordable housing for families and young people was a worthwhile investment.”

One of the housing developments that still brings pride to Walis George is the small development of Castell y Gog, a 12 property estate at Dyffryn Ardudwy, Gwynedd. Back in 2006, it was difficult to provide housing in rural areas but the introduction of the Rural Housing Enabler to the sector bought real change to rural communities.

The Rural Housing Enabler’s work was to discuss with the community and gather evidence showing the housing needs within that community. There was an opportunity in Dyffryn Ardudwy to respond to the challenge that affordable housing was needed for local people.

“The turning point was co-operation, when Tai Eryri worked with the Community Council, Gwynedd Council, the National Park and the Rural Housing Enabler, the first housing of its kind in north Wales were successfully developed. And coupled with a local letting policy agreed by Dyffryn Ardudwy and Talybont Community Council, a sense of community ownership of the estate ensured their success.”

“I am also very proud of the fact that Grŵp Cynefin now offers more than housing. With Gorwel services supporting people who need assistance in many different areas,such as domestic violence, the Hwb in Denbigh supports young people and the unemployed and extra care housing schemes provides a special service for older people, the work of the association is varied.

“I take immense pride in our work supporting older people at Awel y Coleg, Y Bala; Llys Awelon, Ruthin; Penucheldre, Holyhead and soon to be added to our list Hafod y Gest, Porthmadog with early plans for a similar provision at Pentre Canol, Denbigh.

“The challenge of redeveloping the old sheltered housing scheme in Penucheldre was huge, and the 54-unit scheme was a completely new concept for Anglesey at the time. It offered us an extra challenge, beyond construction, as the interests and safety of the residents who received a care support service at the old site needed to be managed. I lost some sleep over the development, but the project has been a blueprint for future development plans. This excellent centre has a special place in my heart,” Walis George explains.

Dafydd Lewis, Chair of Grŵp Cynefin’s Board of Management said: “Our gratitude to Walis George for his long service to the housing sector in north Wales and nationally is immense. His enthusiasm and friendly nature has made working with him as Board members, staff, tenants and partner agencies, a very easy task. Grŵp Cynefin is losing a very good friend but we wish him and his family well on his retirement.

“At the same time, we are keen to welcome Shan Lloyd Williams as our new Chief Executive. We wish her the very best in the role and look forward to working with her in the coming days and weeks.”

As he bids farewell, Walis George recalls numerous funny tales of his time with the association, including one where he addressed a tenant working group for half an hour shortly after establishing Grŵp Cynefin. As he finished speaking, a voice from the back said to the room: “Excuse me, but who are you?”

He also recalls one of the toughest times of his career, which involved staff members. In 2011, the association lost two colleagues in one year: “Their deaths bought overwhelming sadness to all of us as a team, and whilst we tried to support each other we were obliged to continue to offer a service to our tenants and partners. They were great friends as much as colleagues and will never be forgotten.”

As he prepares for his retirement he says there are no specific plans other than releasing the responsibility to others. He wishes Shan Lloyd Williams as the incoming Grŵp Cynefin Chief Executive all the very best, whilst he looks forward to becoming a doting grandfather for the first time.

“In between my new housekeeping duties and keeping on top of the gardening, I’m also hoping to have more time to roam Eryri and the coast of Llŷn and Anglesey come spring and summer. I’ll then switch back to supporting my beloved Scarlets rugby team during the autumn and winter months!” said Walis George.

Walis George will officially retire from duties on 30 March 2018.

Housing association’s fuel poverty work wins trio of commendations

The team at Grŵp Cynefin, which has saved tens of thousands of pounds for thousands of households, was recognised in three categories at the annual Wales Energy Efficiency Awards.

The commendations were for: vulnerable customer support, and regional housing association of the year; while Sandra Kargin was cited in the champion energy warden category.

Started in 2011, the Grŵp Cynefin community energy wardens scheme helps tackle fuel poverty, economic inactivity and carbon reduction. Wardens work with residents in communities across North Wales to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.

Last year, they helped a total of 187 customers, resulting in a reduction of up to 9,350kg of co2 and savings of up to 50 per cent on fuel bills. The scheme also offers an opportunity for people out of work to train as the energy efficiency advisors.

Grŵp Cynefin Community Services Director Carina Roberts, who attended the awards ceremony in Cardiff, said: “The energy wardens work so hard, and to be commended in three different categories is a real achievement. We are very proud of them for helping so many people save money on their fuel bills.”

She was accompanied by energy warden representatives Ieuan Davies, Ffion Owen, Jade Beales and Sandra Kargin.

Sandra Kargin became an energy warden in 2014, following a period out of work when she had lost her confidence and was even struggling to leave her home in Caernarfon. Now Sandra, who is also a Grŵp Cynefin tenant, has helped more than 1,800 residents to cut their bills, and mentored three trainee energy wardens. She provides energy saving advice to tenants and residents across North Wales, working in partnership with fellow energy warden teams based in Caernarfon. The energy wardens scheme is one a of a number of community initiatives run by Grŵp Cynefin, which provides more than 4,500 homes to people across North Wales and north Powys.

The scheme is funded by Grŵp Cynefin, Gwynedd Council, North Wales Housing, Anglesey Council and Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd.

Residents across Anglesey and Gwynedd can receive further information on energy efficiency, or arrange a meeting with a warden by emailing:post@grwpcynefin.org or calling 0300 111 2122.

Grŵp Cynefin names new chief executive

Former head of Housing Services at Anglesey Council, Shan Lloyd Williams, takes the helm of the charitable north Wales housing association at the end of January.

Shan will take over from respected industry leader, Walis George, who is retiring after 25 years at the forefront of housing in the region.

A resident of the Llŷn Peninsula, Shan brings more than 20 years’ experience in the housing sector to the top job.

After A levels, she started her career with the Midland Bank in Pwllheli and Caernarfon, before taking up a post at the then Gwynedd Sight Care as their Senior Rehabilitation Officer, teaching Braille, mobility and other independent living skills and establishing a counselling service at Ysbyty Gwynedd for people newly-diagnosed with loss of sight. She led the development of a new service for visually impaired people across Gwynedd and a new resource centre in Bangor.

Her career path has also included establishing the first registered office in north Wales for Care & Repair Cymru – working with local authorities, housing associations, health board and the third sector to develop and monitor Care and Repair home improvement agencies across north Wales – reporting to civil servants at the Welsh Government. Shan will now be in charge of four Care and Repair services across north Wales counties as they form part of the group structure of Grŵp Cynefin.

Shan went on to work as performance manager for housing and social services at Anglesey Council, before transferring to a post working for Gwynedd Council and the then Gwynedd Local Health Board as health, social care and wellbeing co-ordinator. Amongst her priorities, she took every opportunity to raise the awareness of housing issues with health service professionals.

In a later role as the strategic housing manager at Gwynedd Council, Shan had an opportunity to start developing new extra care facilities, including Hafod y Gest, Porthmadog, and Awel Y Coleg, Bala. Shan will now return to oversee these facilities in her new role.

And a further spell with Gwynedd Council saw Shan as programme manager for infrastructure, overseeing delivery of service workstreams relating to flood alleviation, affordable housing, the carbon agenda and transport.

During her most recent position, heading up housing services in Anglesey, the authority recently started to develop its first council housing for 40 years.

Now serving her second term on the Wales management board of the Chartered Institute of Housing, Shan is also a co-founder and management board member of Women in Social Housing (WISH) North Wales, which supports women seeking to progress to senior positions in the sector.

Shan has successfully graduated with a Masters Degree in Economics in the field of management at the University of Wales College, Newport and gained her qualification as a corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Housing through De Montford University, Leicester. She is also qualified Project and Programme Manager.

Top of Shan’s agenda upon taking up the new role on 29 January 2018, will be to carry on Grŵp Cynefin’s ‘excellent’ working relationship with the North Wales and Powys local authorities, deliver the corporate plan objectives and working with tenants to explore new ways of delivering services.

“I also want to further explore opportunities and work more closely with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to help relieve some of the pressure on accident and emergencies, help people stay safely in their own homes and communities, and take every opportunity to improve the health and well-being of our tenants,” she said.

Shan added: “Grŵp Cynefin already has a good track record at helping to give people the best start in life. Its HWB Dinbych, a centre that provides educational and employment opportunities for local people, is working really well.

“It’s also carrying out a fantastic piece of work with Gorwel, which provides support services for older people, people affected by domestic abuse and homelessness. This work is being held up as good practice elsewhere.

“There is so much to build on, as well as new opportunities, as demand for social housing keeps on growing especially in rural areas.”

Shan added: “I am honoured to have been appointed as the next Chief Executive at Grŵp Cynefin and look forward to working alongside the board and leadership team to deliver the corporate plan, and making a true difference to the lives of residents and communities across North Wales.”

One of her passions is to reduce homelessness and Shan has piloted a number of initiatives including leading the first local authority and social landlord in Wales to successfully pilot the Housing First support model.

Shan has also been central to the development of the mitigation plan to reduce possible effects of the Wylfa Newydd new nuclear build, on the population of Anglesey and the local housing market. She worked with colleagues from the council, registered social housing landlords and the Welsh Government.

In any spare time away from her career, Shan enjoys: “relaxing through walking the dogs, as well as a completely different kind of work, helping out on the family farm on the Llŷn Peninsula.”

Dafydd Lewis, Chairman of Grŵp Cynefin said: “I’m delighted to be welcoming Shan Lloyd Williams as Grŵp Cynefin’s new Chief Executive. Having a successful track record in a number of senior management and strategic housing posts, she brings with her a wealth of skills and leadership experience to Grŵp Cynefin. The Board is confident that Shan will lead the organisation to even greater success in the months and years to come.”

New director eager to help north Wales communities

“The job has a definite appeal, as housing development, supporting rural Welsh communities and helping to improve people’s lives are some of my core principles. Elements of the work go back to my professional roots as an architect.

“Grŵp Cynefin has strong principles, the organisation’s core work is to build houses but they do so much more than that. As a boy who grew up in a rural area of north Powys, the importance of developing rural communities, helping people at grassroots level, improving the quality of people’s lives, promoting the Welsh language and so on is important to me.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge, getting to know the team and starting the task of leading this diligent crew of people in this new role.”

Leading a strong team and working together is not new to Dylan, as he has spent the past ten years working for Bangor University. He leaves his role as the University Director of Property and Campus Services where he has been responsible for a team of 130 colleagues, managing new developments including the innovative Pontio centre in Bangor and the maintenance of the University’s estate.

He also has a wide experience of working in the public sector. He has worked as the Estates Director for the Conwy and Denbighshire Health Service and previously worked for local government in Conwy and Gwynedd. One of the important projects that he worked on during his time with Conwy County Council was to work on a project to build three new secondary schools in the county at a cost of over £40m.

Dylan Roberts will succeed Rhys Dafis from Llansannan who retires from his post with Grŵp Cynefin after seven years in the role.

Walis George, Chief Executive of Grŵp Cynefin said: “Our heartfelt thanks goes to Rhys Dafis for his work and dedication over the years. Whilst we farewell with Rhys, we welcome Dylan Roberts to the team. We look forward to working with him, gaining from his extensive experience of working in further education and in local government. The Management Board and Leadership Team take pride in his appointment and warmly welcomes him to us.”

Grŵp Cynefin is a charitable housing association that operates across the six counties of north Wales as well as north Powys, providing more than 4,500 homes for families and individuals across the region.

Marc works with the stars on Snowdonia film set

Marc Dairdeas, 52, from Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd was given the opportunity of working with Ffilm Cymru’s Foot in the Door scheme to gain valuable skills on the set of a major new TV drama series, Craith filmed in Snowdonia which airs on S4C on Sunday 7 January at 9pm.

Craith, the new TV thriller is the latest major Welsh and English language series from the makers of the successful Y Gwyll and Hinterland.

Grŵp Cynefin supported Ffilm Cymru’s project of offering eight unemployed people of all ages in north Wales a chance to participate for the free two-week placement in partnership with Welsh production company Severn Screen.

“I’ve had an amazing experience, thanks to Grŵp Cynefin’s support,” explained Marc Dairdeas who worked during the week long filming experience as a Grip.

“I was unsure to begin with what the work entailed, but after a week of training, I was given the role of Grip, which saw me providing camera support to the cameraman, working with equipment such as a dolly and crane. We worked closely with the director and the electrical department.

“As the training week ended, I realised that my role was fundamentally important to the filming of the series. And I was delighted at the end of the filming week in Snowdonia, as the Director came to shake my hand and thanked me for my invaluable support. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, albeit, the hours were long and the work was very intense.

“We had to sign a confidentiality agreement before filming began so I can’t give you any details of the film! The only thing I can tell you is that we had one full day of filming for a fight scene mid-week, and after hours and hours of work, I was told that the whole scene would be a 40 second clip in the series itself! The level of work and skill that goes into shooting a series such as Craith is amazing and without Grŵp Cynefin’s support, I would never have been given this opportunity,” added Marc Dairdeas.

Grŵp Cynefin community initiatives manager, Mair Edwards, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for the applicants to gain invaluable experience and insight into a possible career in the creative industries. I am delighted that Marc Dairdeas, our Grŵp Cynefin tenant has been offered two job opportunities following the programme. It goes to show that giving people opportunities, support and great contacts can open doors.

“We’re proud of our commitment to developing sustainable communities, creating opportunities for people and providing more than housing. We look forward to seeing the fruits of all eight participants labour, when the new series airs on our TV screens very soon,” concluded Mair Edwards.

Foot in the Door is supported by the Welsh Broadcasting Trust’s Partnership Fund and Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds.

New Denbighshire homes meet local demand for quality housing

Grŵp Cynefin housing association and Denbighshire County Council representatives recently visited the new tenants at their new homes at Llys Brân and Trem yr Orsaf in Llangollen, Denbighshire.

The £1.2million investment saw the former Cottage Hospital site in the town developed to create the new homes.

“We are keen to try and meet local demand for our new developments,” explains Rhiannon Dafydd from Grŵp Cynefin. “Our local lettings policy means there are strict conditions regarding who can apply for these new homes, giving people who have lived and worked in the area for at least five years the priority on the new homes.

“We are grateful to the new tenants for allowing us to visit the site and to see for ourselves the hard work and effort that has gone into developing the former hospital site over many months into six wonderful new homes and six flats for local people,” explains Denbighshire Councillor Tony Thomas, Cabinet Lead Member with responsibility for Housing.

Prior to developing the site, a special bat sanctuary was developed on-site, to safeguard a colony of soprano pipistrelle bats before work progressed. The bats have settled well into their new home, which also serves as a communal storage building for the new tenants.

“Quality, cost efficient homes are what we strive for as one of the leading housing associations in north Wales,” continued Rhiannon Dafydd from Grŵp Cynefin.

“I’m delighted that the new tenants here at Llangollen have achieved just that, comfortable warm homes that ensure they can continue to live and work here in their locality.”

Much-needed area office increases investment in Denbigh town to £15.2m

They attended a ceremony to mark the official opening of the housing association’s replacement area office, Tŷ John Glyn, on Vale Street.

It marked the completion of a £3m investment and the securing of 80 jobs in the heart of the town.

Grŵp Cynefin decided to invest and locate itself in the centre of Denbigh, rather than in an out-of-town location so that it could continue to provide its services in the town. The decision also ensures that its staff continue to support local shops and services.

Tŷ John Glyn is the third major development in the town by Grŵp Cynefin.

It is also investing £10m on 70 extra care apartments at the site of the former Middle Lane School, and recently built the £2.2m HWB Dinbych, Smithfield Road, to provide education and employment opportunities for young people and support services for other residents of the Denbigh area.

The three-storey area office has been designed to reach BREEAM ‘excellent’ standard, which assesses the use of building materials and energy and water usage to ensure the building is environmentally sustainable.

Grŵp Cynefin’s Business Services Director, Bryn Ellis, said: “This is a substantial investment and a conscious decision to support Denbigh town centre. Even though it would have been easier to go to a business park, we’re keeping jobs in the town centre, and providing services to customers where they want them locally.

“Staff have waited for a long time for this replacement office building. It’s great for staff to have a modern and comfortable working environment.

“The office has modern and convenient meeting rooms where tenants can meet staff in private and additional facilities for both internal and external meetings. Grŵp Cynefin has invested for the future.”

The development has been named after the late John Glyn Jones, one of Wales’ most prominent housing sector champions.

A native of Denbigh, he had been the first employee, going on to become the chief executive, of Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd, which later merged with Tai Eryri to become Grŵp Cynefin.

Creu Architects of Denbigh designed the building, which was constructed by R L Davies of Colwyn Bay.

Previously, Grŵp Cynefin staff had been located in two separate offices around Denbigh. Tŷ John Glyn is one of four area offices for Grŵp Cynefin, with others located at Penygroes and Bala in Gwynedd, and Llangefni on Anglesey.

Manon Glyn, John Glyn Jones’ daughter, who attended the opening, said on behalf of the family: “It’s a privilege and an honour to be here with the family to mark this special milestone with the team at Grŵp Cynefin. Dad was proud of what Tai Clwyd had achieved over the years, and he would be the first to emphasise the huge contribution each worker made to foster support for Tai Clwyd in those very early days in that small office room at the top of town. He would have been even more pleased to know that Grŵp Cynefin has managed to keep the new office not only in Denbigh, but in the town centre amidst the local people and its businesses.”

Film set skills and training on offer to the unemployed, with help from Grŵp Cynefin

Anyone over 18 not in employment or education, can apply for the free two-week placement, offered by Ffilm Cymru Wales in partnership with Welsh production company Severn Screen and Grŵp Cynefin housing association.

People interested must register online, in time to have filled in and submitted an application by 27 October.

Financial help to pay for costs such as transport, food or clothing, is being provided by Grŵp Cynefin to eligible applicants. The association is also paying for expenses such as venue hire for recruitment and training days, to enable the training programme to go ahead.

Called Craith, the TV thriller is the latest major Welsh and English language series from the makers of Hinterland. The North Wales filming will take place during November and December.

Ten placements are on offer through Ffilm Cymru Wales’ Foot In The Door scheme.

Grŵp Cynefin was chosen by Ffilm Cymru Wales to offer the opportunities to its tenants and service users, as well as the members of the wider community.

Its officers are now on hand to help people sign up, and support them as they prepare to take up their placements.

Grŵp Cynefin community initiatives manager, Mair Edwards, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for an experience that could be a launchpad for a career in the creative industries and beyond. Some of the trainees who took part in a pilot have already secured paid employment in the film, television and wider sectors.

“Grŵp Cynefin’s involvement is part of its commitment to developing sustainable communities and creating opportunities for people, providing more than housing.

“We’re taking applications from people of all ages. Anyone interested just needs to register on the Ffilm Cymru Wales website.”

Ffilm Cymru Wales’ pilot Foot in the Door programme in April 2017 saw individuals from the Newport and Caerphilly areas rub shoulders with Hollywood stars Michael Sheen (The Queen, The Twilight Saga) and Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, Downton Abbey) on the set of The Raid director Gareth Evans’ forthcoming thriller Apostle.

Full details and online application forms can be found at

http://www.ffilmcymruwales.com/index.php/en/film-educators/foot-in-the-door

Foot in the Door is supported by the Welsh Broadcasting Trust’s Partnership Fund and Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds.

Abuse survivor thanks Gorwel for ‘incredible’ work

The refuge run by Gorwel was the only shelter out of 323 in the UK to accept the woman.

Now the victim, who received support from Gorwel throughout a seven-month stay, has herself started working to support other victims of domestic abuse.

She has told her story to thank Gorwel staff and encourage other victims to seek help. She has spoken on condition of anonymity.

Gorwel provides a range of support services for older people, people affected by domestic abuse and homelessness.

Established in 2006, as a business unit within Grŵp Cynefin housing association, Gorwel recently merged with De Gwynedd Domestic Abuse Service.

Gorwel’s services, help 500 vulnerable people each week through its team of 54 dedicated staff.

The domestic abuse survivor was speaking at a re-launch by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, to mark Gorwel’s expansion.

The woman, who is Russian, has lived in the UK for three years.

She said: “I had worked for a luxury cruise ship company for seven years as a croupier-cashier in the casino and a tour guide.

“It was a big decision to give up my well-paid job, family and friends, and move to another country to join the love of my life.

“My partner possessed amazing charm and charisma. He convinced me that I didn’t have to work any more, because he would provide for me and I would live like a princess. What I took as care was just control.”

She went on:

“My family life turned into a nightmare full of insults, abuse, limitations and prohibitions. I felt more and more confused and depressed.”

After 18 months, her partner’s verbal assaults turned to physical abuse. Eventually she ran away, with a small bag and £8 in her pocket.

She continued: “I spent seven months in the refuge where I was surrounded with a team of nice, caring and professional people. My support workers did an incredible job in helping me emotionally, mentally and financially.

“Together we overcame a lot of difficulties dealing with my immigration status, financial stability and health, both physical and emotional, and new housing.

“I received counselling, and, most importantly, I made new friends.

“I want to say thank you to all those who helped me to start a new life.”

Grŵp Cynefin Director of Community Services, Carina Roberts, said:

“Gorwel already works closely with partner agencies in Gwynedd, Anglesey and Denbighshire to offer expert help to older people, children and young people, and individuals who are finding it difficult to secure housing support.

“Our close collaboration with De Gwynedd Domestic Abuse Service over many years means its merger with Gorwel makes great sense.

“Testimonials from recipients of our service are the best advert we could wish for. I hope that this survivor’s story may encourage other people who could benefit from Gorwel services to come forward.”

The victim did not have the right to remain in the UK. Gorwel was the only provider which agreed to give her refuge and work with her to get the relevant paperwork to be able to stay. She now lives in north Wales, and volunteers in a charity shop. She is looking for paid work, and is starting the process of being able to volunteer for Women’s Aid.

Consent to demolish former school buildings at Middle Lane, Denbigh

Rhys Dafis, Grŵp Cynefin’s Regeneration Services Director, said “Full planning permission for the £10m+, 70 apartment scheme was granted in February 2017, and we are naturally relieved that we may now proceed to carefully demolish and clear the site, to prepare for the next phase of the development.

“However, we appreciate the historical significance of the original school to Denbigh’s heritage. We will therefore be working with local partners such as Denbigh Museum to ensure the commemorative stones and other significant features from the original school building are safely kept and sited in an agreed public position with an information board.

We would like to thank Denbighshire County Council for their support in ensuring this much needed housing project is able to go ahead.”

Councillor Bobby Feeley, Cabinet Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said: “Extra care schemes have become increasingly popular in Denbighshire and across Wales, over the last few years, and they are carefully planned and built to cater for the needs of older vulnerable residents. These homes are comfortable, welcoming and secure and allow people to continue living independently, but with the added reassurance that help and support is available 24 hours a day, should it be needed.”

“The scheme at Pentre Canol aims to provide a top quality extra care service for residents of Denbigh and surrounding communities; the facilities are close to the town centre amenities and there are regular public transport services in and out of the town.”

“This decision marks another significant milestone in the on-going development of extra care in Denbighshire”.

National award for a former homeless Denbighshire youngster

Chloe Thomas, 19, from Denbigh, was named Young Tenant of the Year in the 2017 Wales Tenant Participation Awards.

The teenager turned her situation around and has settled into a new home after receiving support to re-build her life from Gorwel at Yr Hafod.

Yr Hafod is a temporary supported housing project for homeless young people in Denbigh run by Grŵp Cynefin’s in-house support provider, Gorwel. It is located near Hwb Dinbych which provides education and employment opportunities for people in Denbighshire.

Thanks to the support recieved at Yr Hafod and Hwb Dinbych, Chloe learned budgeting and cooking skills and went on to qualify in animal care at college.

“I was absolutely shocked to win the Young Tenant of the Year award,” said Chloe.

“Things had been difficult at home, and there was a lot of family strain, so at 16, I was placed in a supported housing project in Flintshire. My college tutor at Northop got in touch with my Youth Project worker, and five weeks later, I was referred to Yr Hafod.

“It was a fortunate step for me personally - I was back in my home town, I was close to my taid, who lives in Denbigh and I was taught a number of skills.

“I was given cooking lessons and taught how to prepare decent healthy meals. I was advised how to budget money on a weekly basis and was given support from the Bus Stop project which helps young people understand more about housing issues and tenants opportunities.

“I’m now in a much better place, and I’ve finished my City & Guilds college course in Animal Care. I volunteer two nights a week at the Hwb, supporting the youth workers in their role with the young people who attend.

“I guess it’s part of the reason I won the award. Because of my experience, I can offer real insight into what works for young people who need help.

“It’s good to give something back. As I gain more experience of working with young people, I hope to be find a job working in this sector.”

Chloe has, in recent months, developed an online character called Fred, an anti-superhero that offers tips and advice about day to day issues in a comical and lighthearted way. Fred was created as part of a supported housing project Chloe attended with Tape community music and film.

“I used Fred in my acceptance speech,” said Chloe. “He had to be there, he’s been instrumental in sharing my thoughts with organisations who fund supported housing schemes.”

Hafod and its services received its own recognition, winning the Participation in Supported Housing award at the TPAS ceremony.

A supported housing project set on the same site as Hwb Dinbych, Yr Hafod offers six young people aged 16 to 25 support activities on site and in the community.

Yr Hafod is owned by Grŵp Cynefin and managed by it’s in-house support provider, Gorwel. Funding is provided through Denbighshire County Council’s Supporting People team.

Catherine Owen from Denbighshire’s Homeless Prevention Team said: “We would like to offer our sincere congratulations to Chloe on her success. This is a great example of how a young person in Denbighshire has transformed her life through accessing the right support at the right time.

“This is a real success story and Chloe’s experiences, her growth in confidence and the new skills she has picked up on the way will provide hope and motivation to other young people to follow their dreams.”

Osian Elis Gorwel’s Homeless Prevention Co-ordinator said: “We are delighted that Chloe and Yr Hafod came home with these two amazing awards.

“There are a number of people and organisations working together to offer real grassroot support to some vulnerable young people, so national awards such as these are accepted on behalf of all those individuals.

“I’d like to thank everyone who works so hard in supporting young people across north Wales.”

Pioneering scheme to help older people continue to live at home is already bearing fruit

Residents who have already benefited from the Môn Older People Project attended a launch ceremony at Llangefni Town Hall.

The Môn Older People Project provides short, medium and long-term ‘floating’ support to enable older people to live as independently as possible.

The new housing-related service is run by support service Gorwel, for Anglesey Council’s Supporting People Team.

The Môn Older People Project is available free of charge to social and private tenants, as well as owner-occupiers, over the age of 55. Currently, around 400 residents on the island are eligible for its services.

Support on offer includes help to: manage arrears accrued for rent/mortgage or utilities; establish community or social contacts and activities; manage budgets and access entitled welfare benefits; and to access education, training and employment opportunities.

Examples of local people already helped by the service include:

  • Someone who had rebuilt his life following homelessness and alcoholism, but was given 12 months to find a new home, following the death of his partner, the property owner. The service helped him apply for a council property, and plan to proceed with routine surgery that will improve his wellbeing. Once recovered from surgery, he intends to become a volunteer support worker for a charity on the island.
  • An elderly resident living alone without family nearby, who now has many health needs linked to his age and injuries sustained in his youth. The service has helped him to apply for and obtain Attendance Allowance, access a care package and adaptations to his home from social services, and sign up for shopping and befriending services.
  • A person who had suffered a serious illness at the same time as marital breakdown, allowed bills to go unpaid, and fell into debt. The service helped the person clear a seven-year backlog of paperwork, pay bills and get out of debt, as well as to organise a landline and connection to the internet, enabling online banking and shopping.

A total of about 400 people on the island are currently eligible to receive the service. However, numbers are set to rise dramatically as the island’s population ages.

Gorwel is a support service within Grŵp Cynefin housing association.

Isle of Anglesey Council Leader, Councillor Llinos Medi, who is also in charge of Housing and Social Services for the county, said, “As an authority, we are pleased to be working with Gorwel to deliver the Môn Older People Project. The project is already helping to make a real difference to the lives of many older people.

“Our partnership will continue to focus on realising the housing needs of Anglesey’s older population, improving their quality of life and ensuring that older people are able to live independently at home for as long as possible.”

Gwyneth Williams, Gorwel Manager, said: “Recent figures show that there are 11,000 people between the age of 60-74 and 5,900 over the age of 75 on Anglesey. These figures will increase by 11% and 33% respectively.

“People are living longer and are healthier, but there will be instances during their lives that people will need support and care at some time or another.

“It’s in everyone’s interests to help people to live independently for as long as possible.

“We’re pleased that the Môn Older People Project is already making a positive difference to people’s lives on the island.”

For information about the Môn Older People Project, contact Gorwel on 0300 111 0226 or email poblhyn@gorwel.org.


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