Abergele Community Action were funded by the Youth Led Grants for their Castle Clean Up Project. Read about the positive impact of the project on young volunteers and the whole community.
The Castle Clean Up Project was initially set up by Abergele Community Action to provide community activity for young volunteers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project collaborated with Gwyrch Castle and Incredible Edibles to clear, landscape and archeologically explore land providing an empowering and participative educational activity. This way, the project was able to engage with young people in a safe and socially distanced outdoor environment.
‘SHEER JOY’ OF MAKING A DIFFERENCE
As the community came out of lockdown, young people needed something to engage with quickly, and CVSC Youth Panel provided Abergele Community Action with the platform to do this. With the help of the Youth Led Grants, they were able to recruit 24 young volunteers- 4 more than initially planned with 100% attendance in planned and unplanned sessions.
Having good quality equipment and financial resources made their young volunteers feel worthwhile and valued when trusted to carry out a project in historical locations within their community. Volunteers often commented on the sheer joy in making a difference to their community after the monotony of constantly being at home.
The project made sure to engage young people in every aspect possible. The young volunteers took on leadership roles by planning and costing the entire project. There were 4 teams of volunteers, each team led by a young person to ensure the clean-up ran smoothly.
The volunteers even worked together to organise a 28-mile sponsored bike run to help raise money to cover more equipment they wanted to purchase. Although most of the group didn’t know each other prior to lockdown, the volunteers developed supportive friendships during this project which was beneficial to everyone involved.
SUPPORTING FUTURE GENERATIONS
The Welsh Government identified 6 priority areas that the Youth Led Grants target to ensure prosperity for all including mental health, early years, decarbonisation, skills and employability, housing and social care.
The Castle Clean Up project made a conscious effort to tackle decarbonisation by pledging to walk or bike to the castle to reduce their carbon footprint. The project also made a big difference to skills and employability, with young volunteers developing skills such as leadership, awareness of health and safety, teamwork, composting, planting, pruning and maintaining. Being in an outdoor setting and engaging in physical activity has no doubt improved the mental health of young people, especially after the stress of lockdown.
The Castle Clean Up project also highlights how youth-led projects can support the goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generation Act. For example, by providing skills and employability and improving mental health, the project supports both a prosperous Wales and a healthier Wales.
RECOGNITION IN THE COMMUNITY
The Youth Led Grants enabled the project to raise the organisation’s profile, but more importantly, raise the profile of young people in the area. For example, at a recent town meeting, the Trust Chair of Gwyrch Castle praised the project, stating ‘we value the work you do in the community’ and that ‘we have never had this kind of provision before’.
Out of the 24 young people who volunteered with the Castle Clean Up Project, 7 parents noted a positive change in their children. They had a further 60 messages of support from various members of the community including Incredible Edibles, county councillors, Conwy Fusion and even The Veg Shop!
The volunteers have already begun to look at other projects to get stuck into in the community, and the young volunteers are currently in the process of making raised beds for the local Family Support Centre.
YOUTH LED GRANTS
Distributed by CVCs across Wales, the Youth Led Grants support a range of small volunteering projects and activities led and carried out by young people. In 2020/21 the projects were funded to address six priority areas identified by the Welsh Government which have the potential to make the greatest contribution to long-term prosperity and well-being.