• Celebrating the Impact of Connecting Communities in Wales

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    • Celebrating the Impact of Connecting Communities in Wales

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    On Tuesday 15 December, we were joined by members and friends from across Wales to celebrate the impact of CTA’s Connecting Communities in Wales (CCiW) project.  The project, which is drawing to a close at the end of December, was set up in 2017, and over the last three years the team have been working with partners and stakeholders across Wales to create new partnerships, bring new funding into the sector and to create new transport networks that are already having an enormous impact in connecting communities to the people and places they care about. 

    During the event we heard from Alison Owen, CCiW’s Project Manager, who reflected on the successes of the project which include working with communities and community transport providers to bring in close to £2 million in funding for the community transport sector in Wales, as well as delivering training, providing support and guidance and increasing the profile of community transport across Wales. We were also joined by Meleri Davies, Chief Officer, at Partneriaeth Ogwen who was supported by the CCiW team to secure significant funding to make their Green Valley/Dyffryn Gwyrdd project a reality, as well as Rod Bowen, Development Manager at Dolen Teifi, who also received support from the project in setting up new services in areas of Wales that needed the provision of community transport.

    We also heard from Rachel Burr, CTA’s new Director for Wales, on our plans to support the sector in Wales as we move into 2021. Even though the project is coming to an end, the CTA team in Wales are still here to provide support, guidance and representation for our members. There’s a huge opportunity, Rachel said, to position community transport at the heart of Llwybr Newydd, the Welsh Government’s new transport strategy for Wales, as well as to support our members in staying resilient and responsive as we move into 2021.

    We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been a part of Connecting Communities in Wales over the last three years – the team at CTA, our members, stakeholders and funders for all their work in supporting communities all over Wales to access amazing community transport services. Your impact has been enormous.

    Below, you can find a full recording of the event, a short video looking at some of the project’s successes, as well as a reflection by Michelle Clarke, Project Co-ordinator for North Wales, on what she’s learned during her time with Connecting Communities in Wales. If you want to find out more about CTA’s connecting communities in Wales project head over to ctauk.org/cciw.

    Event Recording

    Project Overview Video

    My reflections on Connecting Communities in Wales

    Michelle Clarke, Project Co-ordinator

    Thinking about what a privilege it has been to work on the Connecting Communities in Wales project, I am reminded of this quote: “Community is much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter.” Seeing the amazing work done by community transport organisations has been inspiring, so much so that (just between us) I sometimes thought I would do the job even if I didn’t get paid! A colleague asked, what have you learned, what have you found out, and what are you proud of? Here are some thoughts.

    I learned the importance of understanding the context in which I’m working. Some partnerships took considerably longer to develop than others, particularly where there was a history of under-resourcing and a lack of local infrastructure services. We need individually tailored approaches, bringing in a range of partners and expertise, and making the best use of all available resources. It is important to be generous with time for relationship-building in areas that haven’t had much investment or encouragement, as they are rich in resourcefulness, ideas, and enthusiasm.

    While developing new community transport services, I found out the critical role changemakers play in their local communities. Changemakers can be anyone who takes action to solve a social problem. Their characteristics have been described as: connected to an issue; focused on solving a problem for the greater good; and motivated to act. From my experience, changemakers also have an open attitude to risk, a willingness to learn by doing, and they play a pivotal role in ‘getting things done’. The ability to recognise and support changemakers could make all the difference between having an idea for a community transport project and seeing it actually come to life.

    I often think about the people I’ve been privileged to meet through the project. Such as, the woman who had cancelled her appointments at the hospital because of the difficulty and discomfort in getting there on the bus. Or the man who shared his distress at having to ration visits to his wife in a care home due to distance and high taxi fares. I am proud of working with great organisations to give more people opportunities to use accessible and affordable community transport services. Hopefully, people will have found getting around that little bit easier. Thank you for everything you do for your local community, and for simply being there.

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