Monthly Archives: March 2016

YMCA Plas: A vision for a better Roath

How do organisations develop a strategy for a community asset? Dyfrig Williams visited YMCA Plas (formerly Plasnewydd Community Centre) in Roath to find out.

A photo of YMCA Plas

YMCA Plas

Throughout my recent posts on asset transfer, I’ve visited organisations that have gone through the asset transfer process and are now on the other side. My final visit was a bit different, as it took me to an organisation who are developing their business plan for the site. I went to see the YMCA, who have taken on the old Plasnewydd Community Centre building on a leasehold basis for a hundred years from Cardiff Council. They are looking to redevelop the site, and originally wanted the building on a freehold basis to make the most of it.

Like all the other asset transfers in this series, it wouldn’t have been able to take place without working closely with the council. The transfer comes with an agreement for 25 years rent-free, without which the YMCA would not have been in a position to take the asset transfer forward. This has given them breathing space, and enabled them to put the right building blocks in place to encourage growth.

The price of property in Cardiff made it difficult to find suitable premises, especially with the huge increase in the area’s student market. But now the deal has been done, the move will enable the YMCA’s Youth and Community arm to get out from under the homeless remit that YMCA are widely connected to in the area.

The council didn’t want to restrict how the YMCA makes use of the site, but it has stipulated that it must maintain community usage. The Local Authority deliberately didn’t tie the YMCA into a restrictive agreement, and the only other condition is that they can only sub-let 33% of the site. The YMCA maintained throughout the negotiation process that they would be unable to take on the staff through TUPE, as they didn’t have the capacity to do so.

What is the strategy for YMCA Plas?

As the lease for the building is so long, YMCA Plas needs to be multi-use, so that if circumstance change the building can still be functional. Fewer and fewer people have been coming to the building as it’s been earmarked for closure for quite some time, so the YMCA are currently running events to re-engage the community, and are looking to consult on its future.

The aim is for YMCA Plas to be a community hub for local groups and people in the area. They want to develop a sport facility with space for a gym to generate income, which will give the centre a health and wellbeing focus.

The organisation are also developing a childcare strategy and a nursery. There is a lack of affordable childcare in the area, which they’ve identified through working with Communities First. Not many people know that the YMCA is the biggest childcare provider in UK, which the organisation can draw on to take this part of the plan forward. They are also looking to rent out rooms where possible and to rent spaces to organisations whose purpose aligns with their aims and objectives.

The entrance to the building is on the side of the street, so the organisation is looking to move the entrance so that it focuses on footfall from the street. This will clearly show that it’s open and accessible to the public, instead of relying on people to go down the side street.

Lessons learnt

Throughout the process the organisation focussed on the council’s timelines, which meant that the focus wasn’t always as intense on their own requirements. As staff were not transferred over to the organisation, embedding new staff whilst taking over a new facility was a big challenge. This meant that they couldn’t hit the ground running in the way that they would have liked, and the transfer involved so much work it was difficult to focus on what was going to happen afterwards. However the core message in the short term has been to maintain the current business, which doesn’t pay the bills but does contribute to it. Because of effective planning they are able to soak up the immediate losses whilst the business plan is being developed. The challenge now is for the organisation to continue to run the business whilst developing a path forward.

A vision for the future

I’ve lived in Roath for the past few years, and it’s a vibrant and diverse place to live. I’ve given blood at the centre a few times, but I must admit that I haven’t made the most of the facility that’s been on my doorstep.

The area has lots of people living side by side, but who aren’t always integrated. I’m all for anything that brings people together in the area, and I’m excited to see how the YMCA make their vision for the community centre into a reality by involving community groups and the people of Roath.

YMCA Plas: Gweledigaeth well ar gyfer y Rhath

Sut all sefydliadau ddatblygu strategaeth ar gyfer ased cymunedol? Ymwelodd Dyfrig Williams ag YMCA Plas (cyn-Ganolfan Gymunedol Plasnewydd) yn y Rhath i ffeindio allan.

Ffotograff o YMCA Plas

YMCA Plas

Rydw i wedi bod yn ymweld â sefydliadau sydd wedi mynd drwy’r broses trosglwyddo asedau yn barod yn fy mlogbostau ddiweddar ar drosglwyddo asedau. Roedd fy ymweliad olaf bach yn wahanol, achos wnes i fynd i sefydliad sy’n datblygu eu cynllun busnes ar gyfer safle. Fe wnes i ymweld â’r YMCA, sydd wedi cymryd drosto hen adeilad Canolfan Gymunedol Plasnewydd ar sail prydles am 100 mlynedd o Gyngor Caerdydd. Maen nhw’n edrych i ailddatblygu’r safle, ac yn wreiddiol roedden nhw eisiau’r adeilad ar sail rhydd-ddaliad i wneud y mwyaf ohono.

Fel yn achos pob un o’r asedau yn y gyfres yma o flogbostau, byddai’r trosglwyddiad ddim wedi digwydd os na fyddai’r sefydliad wedi gweithio’n agos â’r cyngor. Mae’r trosglwyddiad yn dod gyda chytundeb am 25 mlynedd heb rent, a heb hynny byddai’r YMCA ddim wedi bod mewn sefyllfa i gymryd yr adeilad. Mae hyn wedi galluogi nhw i roi’r blociau adeiladu cywir mewn lle i sicrhau twf cynaliadwy.

Mae pris tir ac adeiladau yng Nghaerdydd wedi gwneud e’n anodd dod o hyd i safle addas, yn enwedig gyda’r cynnydd enfawr yn y nifer o fyfyrwyr yn yr ardal. Ond nawr mae’r cytundeb mewn lle, mae’n bosib i Adran Ieuenctid a Chymuned y YMCA i symud o gysgod y gwaith digartrefedd mae’r YMCA yn gwneud yn yr ardal.

Doedd y cyngor ddim eisiau cyfyngu ar sut gellir defnyddio’r safle, ond mae’r trosglwyddiad ar yr amod bod y safle yn cael ei ddefnyddio er budd y gymuned. Yr unig amod arall yw dim ond 33% o’r adeilad all yr YMCA rhentu allan. Trwy gydol y broses wnaeth yr YMCA dweud nad ydyn nhw’n gallu cymryd y staff cyflogedig trwy TUPE achos nad oedd ganddynt y gallu i wneud hynny.

Beth yw’r strategaeth ar gyfer YMCA Plas?

Gan fod y brydles ar gyfer yr adeilad mor hir, mae’n rhaid i YMCA Plas fod yn aml-ddefnydd. Bydd hwn yn galluogi iddynt newid yr adeilad os mae’r amgylchiadau’n newid. Mae llai o bobl wedi bod yn dod i’r adeilad gan ei fod wedi cael ei glustnodi i’w cau ers peth amser, felly ar hyn o bryd mae’r YMCA yn cynnal digwyddiadau i ail-ymgysylltu â’r gymuned, ac maen nhw’n edrych i ymgynghori ar ei ddyfodol.

Y nod yw i YMCA Plas fod yn ganolbwynt cymunedol ar gyfer grwpiau lleol a phobl yr ardal. Maent yn awyddus i ddatblygu cyfleuster chwaraeon gyda champfa, er mwyn cynhyrchu incwm, ac fe fydd hwn yn rhoi ffocws iechyd a lles i’r ganolfan.

Mae’r sefydliad hefyd yn datblygu strategaeth gofal plant a meithrinfa. Maen nhw wedi nodi, trwy weithio gyda Chymunedau yn Gyntaf, bod yna prinder o ofal plant fforddiadwy yn yr ardal. Does dim lot o bobl yn gwybod mai’r YMCA yw’r darparwr gofal plant mwyaf yn y DU, ac mae’r sefydliad yn edrych i wneud y fwyaf o’i gapasiti a gwybodaeth i gymryd y rhan hon o’r cynllun ymlaen. Maent hefyd yn edrych i rentu ystafelloedd lle mae’n bosib ac i rentu lle i fudiadau sydd â’r un dibenion â’u nodau a’u hamcanion.

Mae’r fynedfa i’r adeilad ar ochr y stryd, felly mae’r sefydliad hefyd yn bwriadu symud y fynedfa fel ei fod yn fwy amlwg i ymwelwyr. Bydd hyn yn dangos yn glir ei fod yn agored ac yn hygyrch i’r cyhoedd, yn hytrach na dibynnu ar bobl i fynd i lawr yr ochr stryd.

Gwersi a ddysgwyd

Roedd y YMCA yn canolbwyntio ar amserlenni’r cyngor trwy gydol y proses, a golygodd hyn nad oedd y ffocws bob amser ar eu gofynion eu hunain. Gan nad oedd y staff yn trosglwyddo drosodd i’r sefydliad, roedd ymsefydlu staff newydd wrth gymryd drosto gyfleuster newydd yn her fawr. Roedd hyn yn golygu na allent ddechrau gweithio yn y ffordd y byddent wedi hoffi, ac roedd cymaint o sylw ar y trosglwyddiad roedd e’n anodd canolbwyntio ar beth oedd yn mynd i ddigwydd wedyn. Fodd bynnag, y neges graidd yn y tymor byr oedd cynnal y busnes presennol. Er nad yw’n talu’r biliau, mae’n cyfrannu ato. A gan fod y mudiad wedi cynllunio’n effeithiol, maen nhw’n gallu amsugno colledion uniongyrchol tra mae’r cynllun busnes yn cael ei ddatblygu. Yr her nawr yw i’r sefydliad i barhau i redeg y busnes wrth ddatblygu’i gynllun.

Gweledigaeth ar gyfer y dyfodol

Rydw i wedi bod yn byw yn y Rhath sawl flwyddyn nawr, ac mae’n lle bywiog i fyw. Rydw i wedi rhoi gwaed yn y ganolfan, ond rhaid imi gyfaddef fy mod i heb wneud y gorau o’r cyfleuster sydd wedi bod ar fy stepen drws.

Mae gan yr ardal lot o bobl amrywiol yn fyw yn ochr yn ochr, ond dydyn nhw ddim wastad yn integreiddio. Mae unrhyw beth sy’n dod a phobl at ei gilydd yn ddatblygiad positif, ac rwy’n edrych ymlaen at weld sut mae’r YMCA yn gwneud eu gweledigaeth ar gyfer y ganolfan gymunedol yn realiti drwy gynnwys grwpiau cymunedol a phobl Rhath.

Bridgend Town Council: A better building, and better democracy

The Town Council’s move into the old library building at Carnegie House has helped to reinvigorate local democracy in Bridgend. Dyfrig Williams visited the Council to find out more about the new building and how it’s also being used to give a boost to the arts in the town.

A photo of Carnegie House

Carnegie House

Until their recent move, Bridgend Town Council had been based in the former Bridgend Urban District Council’s offices at Glanogwr. In 1987 the offices were converted into elderly persons’ units and the Town Council moved out into the newly vacated former Ogwr Borough Council’s Architects Department (also at Glanogwr), where they remained until January 2014. But when their tenancy agreement was coming up for renewal, the time was right to make a move. With serendipitous timing, Bridgend County Borough Council’s library moved to a shared facility with other resources. The Town Council embraced the opportunity to move to the centre of town and in to the heart of the community.

An external group was also looking to provide an arts centre for the town at the same time as the Town Council moved into the Town Centre. Carnegie House has much more space than the previous building, so the Town Council decided to develop the ground floor into an arts centre and to use the first floor to home the town council.

How did they do it?

A photo of the Town Council Chambers inside Carnegie House

The Town Council Chambers at Carnegie House

The Town Council obtained the building on a freehold basis for £1, which meant that the County Borough Council were able to offload an unused building. It also meant that the building was kept as a community facility, which the Town Council was able to make the most of after it held a consultation evening to hear from the community about what they wanted from the project.

The Town Council recognised that it would have been impossible for the full council to take responsibility for the move, as it would not have been able to be responsive to the changing events and requirements. So they set up an independent group of 6 councillors as a relocation group who dealt with all aspects of the asset transfer.

A good relationship with Bridgend County Borough Council was key to the transfer’s success. The County Borough Council often went the extra mile during the process by providing assistance through their conservation officers, architects and surveyors. This positive relationship also allowed the Town Council to take over the building under licence in the first instance. This meant that what they would’ve paid in rent was used to refurbish the building. The Town Council wouldn’t have been able to afford to do both, so this reciprocal approach really helped the process.

The collaborative approach between the two councils also meant that the Town Council could make the most of the County Borough Council’s service level agreements for things like maintenance. The County Borough Council already has agreements in place, ones which the Town Council would struggle to match due to its scale. This means that the Town Council gets better deals and can, for example, use the County Borough Council’s telephony and intranet systems.

Heritage

A photo of the town bell that was donated to the Town Council with clippings about it

The bell  from the original town hall that was donated to the Town Council

The Town Council have made a concerted effort to revamp Carnegie House in keeping with the history of the building. They’ve adopted Edwardian colour schemes and worked with the County Borough Council Conservation staff to develop the space. They have also had items donated to them from the community, including the bell from the original town hall in the 18th century, and a memorial board from a local school, for which the Town Council held a dedication ceremony. Previously there was no community space for civic events as there was no town hall, but now local people are actively engaging with the council to help preserve and remember their history.

The Town Council itself has also grown, as its location within the town centre means that there’s much more awareness of its work. The relocation has been the catalyst in getting the Town Council further into the public domain, and now members of the public are observing Town Council meetings on a more regular basis. The expanded facility has also meant that the staff team has expanded from 1 person to 4 part-time staff. This increased staff capacity is important as it’s come at a time where the Town Council is taking over more non-statutory services.

The Arts Hub

The Town Council applied to the Arts Council of Wales for funding to work on the ground floor. The first year’s programme of activity ran from March to November 2015. By the end of that time, around 1700 people had attended events in the hall, including poetry nights, concerts and jazz nights. Last year’s programme was trial and error, but this year the Town Council will be building on what it’s learnt by running a series of events with both Jazz and Classical music.

Some extensive work is taking place as the building itself is a listed building. They’ve received a Heritage Lottery grant (with match funding from both the Town and County Borough Councils) as the stonework has crumbled, and the old artificial ceiling is being stripped back to improve the acoustics. The Town Council has also bought a PA system, and they now have a website up and running for the first time.

What does the future look like?

So the future looks bright for the Town Council, and any surplus made from the Arts ventures will be ploughed back in for equipment and to invest in the programme. As the adult and community learning provision has disbanded, the Town Council is looking to develop independent classes on arts and culture (like sewing, painting and ceramics) as an opportunity for local people to get involved with the building.

I learnt so much from my visit to Carnegie House, not least the importance of being flexible and thinking outside the box. It’s obviously an incredibly labour intensive process, but by working in collaboration with the County Borough Council, the Town Council have been able to make the most of the opportunities that have come their way from the asset transfer. In a time where resources are so tight, it’s great to see organisations working together to make sure that they deliver the best possible public services for the people in their area.

Cyngor Tref Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr: Adeilad gwell, democratiaeth gwell

Cafodd democratiaeth leol ei adfywio ar ôl i Gyngor Tref Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr symud o’i hen adeilad i’r llyfrgell yn Nhŷ Carnegie. Ymwelodd Dyfrig Williams â’r Cyngor i ffeindio allan mwy am yr adeilad newydd a sut mae’n cael ei ddefnyddio i roi hwb i gelfyddydau’r dref.

Llun o Dŷ Carnegie

Tŷ Carnegie

Roedd Cyngor Tref Pen-y-bont wedi ei leoli yn hen swyddfeydd Cyngor Dosbarth Trefol Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr yng Nglanogwr nes iddynt symud yn ddiweddar. Yn 1987 cafodd ei gyn-swyddfeydd ei droi’n unedau henoed a symudodd y Cyngor Tref i hen adeilad Adran Penseiri Cyngor Bwrdeistref Ogwr (a oedd hefyd yn Glanogwr), lle wnaethon nhw aros nes fis Ionawr 2014. Ond pan ddaeth eu cytundeb tenantiaeth i ben, roedd yr amser yn iawn i symud. Yn ffodus roedd llyfrgell Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr yn symud i gyfleuster arall ar yr un pryd. Manteisiodd Cyngor y Dref ar y cyfle i symud i ganol y dref a’r gymuned.

Roedd grŵp allanol hefyd yn edrych i greu canolfan gelfyddydau ar gyfer y dref ar yr un pryd. Mae gan Dŷ Carnegie lot mwy o le na’r adeilad blaenorol, felly penderfynodd y Cyngor Tref i ddatblygu’r llawr gwaelod i fod yn ganolfan gelfyddydau ac i ddefnyddio’r llawr cyntaf i gartrefi’r cyngor tref.

Sut wnaethon nhw wneud hynny?

A photo of the Town Council Chambers inside Carnegie House

Siambrau’r Cyngor Tref tu fewn i Dŷ Carnegie

Prynodd y Cyngor Tref yr adeilad ar sail rhydd-ddaliad am £1, a golygodd hyn bod y Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol yn gallu dadlwytho adeilad doedd ddim yn cael ei ddefnyddio. Roedd hyn hefyd yn golygu bod yr adeilad yn cael ei gadw fel cyfleuster cymunedol, ac fe wnaeth y Cyngor Tref y fwyaf o’r cyfle trwy gynnal noson ymgynghori i glywed o’r gymuned beth yn union roedden nhw eisiau o’r prosiect.

Byddai fe wedi bod yn amhosib i’r Cyngor Tref i gymryd cyfrifoldeb llawn am symud swyddfeydd achos byddai fe ddim wedi gallu ymateb yn ddigon cyflym i’r gofynion. Felly cafwyd grŵp annibynnol o 6 chynghorydd ei sefydlu fel grŵp adleoli a wnaeth delio â phob agwedd o drosglwyddo’r ased.

Mae perthynas da rhwng y Cyngor Tref a’r Cyngor Sir wedi bod yn allweddol i lwyddiant y trosglwyddiad yma. Mae’r Cyngor Sir wedi bod yn help mawr yn ystod y broses drwy ddarparu cymorth drwy eu swyddogion cadwraeth, penseiri a syrfewyr. Mae’r berthynas gadarnhaol hefyd yn caniatáu i’r Cyngor Tref i gymryd drosodd yr adeilad dan drwydded yn y lle cyntaf. Mae hyn yn golygu bod yr hyn y byddan nhw wedi’i dalu mewn rhent yn cael ei ddefnyddio i wella’r adeilad yn lle. Ni fyddai’r Cyngor Tref wedi gallu fforddio gwneud y ddau, felly mae hyn yn rhoi hwb mawr i’r broses.

Mae’r cydweithrediad yma hefyd yn golygu bod y Cyngor Tref yn gallu gwneud y mwyaf o gytundebau lefel gwasanaeth y Cyngor Sir am bethau fel gwaith cynnal a chadw. Byddai fe wedi bod yn anodd i’r Cyngor Tref cael yr un gwerth o’i gytundebau oherwydd dyw e ddim gweithio ar yr un raddfa a’r Cyngor Sir. Mae hyn yn golygu bod y Cyngor Tref yn gallu cael bargeinion gwell ac mae’n gallu defnyddio systemau teleffoni a mewnrwyd y Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol.

Treftadaeth

Ffoto o gloch Neuadd y Dref a gafodd ei roi i'r Cyngor Tref

Tŷ Carnegie

Mae Cyngor y Dref wedi gwneud ymdrech i ailwampio Tŷ Carnegie yn gydnaws â hanes yr adeilad. Maen nhw wedi mabwysiadu cynlluniau lliw Edwardaidd ac yn gweithio gyda staff Cadwraeth y Cyngor Sir i ddatblygu’r gofod. Maent hefyd wedi derbyn eitemau o’r gymuned, gan gynnwys y gloch o neuadd y dref wreiddiol yn y 18fed ganrif, ac mae yna fwrdd coffa o ysgol leol a gafodd ei roi mewn seremoni ymroddiad. Doedd dim gofod cymunedol ar gyfer digwyddiadau dinesig o’r blaen achos does dim neuadd yn y dref, ond erbyn hyn mae pobl leol yn cysylltu gyda’r cyngor i helpu nhw i warchod a chofio eu hanes.

Mae Cyngor y Dref ei hun wedi tyfu, gan fod ei leoliad yng nghanol y dref yn golygu bod llawer mwy o ymwybyddiaeth o’i waith. Mae’r adleoli wedi bod yn gatalydd i symud y Cyngor Tref ymhellach i mewn i’r parth cyhoeddus, ac yn awr mae aelodau’r cyhoedd yn gwylio cyfarfodydd y Cyngor Tref yn fwy rheolaidd. Mae’r cyfleuster newydd wedi rhoi hwb i gapasiti y sefydliad, ac felly mae’r tîm staff wedi ehangu o 1 person i 4 aelod o staff rhan-amser. Mae’r capasiti hyn yn bwysig mewn cyfnod ble mae’r Cyngor Tref yn cymryd drosodd mwy o wasanaethau anstatudol.

Yr Hwb Celfyddydau

Mae’r Cyngor Tref yn gwneud cais i Gyngor Celfyddydau Cymru am gyllid i weithio ar y llawr gwaelod. Cafodd rhaglen gweithgareddau’r flwyddyn gyntaf ei redeg rhwng Mawrth a Thachwedd 2015. Erbyn diwedd y rhaglen, roedd tua 1700 o bobl wedi mynd i ddigwyddiadau yn y neuadd, gan gynnwys nosweithiau barddoniaeth, cyngherddau a nosweithiau jazz. Roedd rhaglen llynedd yn siawns i brofi a methu, ond eleni bydd y Cyngor Tref yn adeiladu ar beth mae’n ei ddysgu drwy gynnal cyfres o ddigwyddiadau cerddoriaeth glasurol a jazz.

Mae lot o waith yn cael ei wneud ar yr adeilad gan ei fod yn adeilad rhestredig. Mae grant Cronfa Treftadaeth y Loteri wedi cael ei roi ar gyfer y gwaith (gydag arian cyfatebol gan o’r Cynghorau Sir a Thref) gan fod y gwaith cerrig yn dadfeilio, ac mae’r hen nenfwd artiffisial yn cael ei dynnu i lawr i wella’r sŵn yn y neuadd. Mae Cyngor y Dref hefyd wedi prynu system PA, ac mae ganddynt wefan am y tro cyntaf.

Beth mae’r dyfodol yn edrych?

Felly mae’r dyfodol yn edrych yn ddisglair i Gyngor y Dref, a bydd unrhyw arian dros ben a wneir gan y mentrau’r Celfyddydau yn cael ei ail-fuddsoddi ar gyfer offer ac yn y rhaglen. Mae’r ddarpariaeth dysgu oedolion a chymunedol yn y dref wedi dod i ben, felly mae’r Cyngor Tref yn edrych i ddatblygu dosbarthiadau annibynnol ar y celfyddydau a diwylliant (fel gwnïo, paentio a serameg) fel bod pobl leol yn cael y cyfle i wneud y fwyaf o’r adeilad.

Dysgais gymaint o fy ymweliad â Thŷ Carnegie, yn enwedig ynghylch y pwysigrwydd o fod yn hyblyg ac i feddwl tu allan i’r bocs. Mae ailwampio’r adeilad yn amlwg yn broses llafurus, ond drwy weithio ar y cyd â’r Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol, mae Cyngor y Dref wedi gallu gwneud y gorau o’r cyfleoedd sydd wedi dod atynt i drosglwyddo’r ased. Mewn cyfnod lle mae adnoddau mor brin, mae’n wych gweld sefydliadau sy’n gweithio gyda’i gilydd i sicrhau bod nhw’n darparu’r gwasanaethau cyhoeddus gorau posibl i bobl eu hardal.

The Muni Arts Centre: An asset transfer driven by the community

The closure of the Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd prompted an outcry, which in turn prompted a community led bid to take it over. Dyfrig Williams visited the thriving centre to find out how it’s progressed since the asset transfer.

Chris Bolton wrote a post a while back about how annoying your citizens can lead to community action. It’s a thought-provoking read about how closing a community asset can lead to a strong public response, and that public services can build on the strength of this reaction.

It was fascinating to see how that has happened at the Muni Arts Centre, where a grass roots campaign to save the centre and develop it sprung from the decision to close its doors by the council.

Background

The Muni Arts Centre

The Muni Arts Centre

There was a huge outcry when the decision was made to discontinue the Muni Centre from council cultural services. 150 people attended a consultation event on the future of the building in the space of a couple of hours. A number of groups wanted to make sure it stayed open, and a number of companies expressed an interest in making the building a base for their business. Artis Community, Pontypridd Town Council, Cylch Cymreig and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust came together as the Muni Working Group and quickly formed the newly incorporated Muni Arts Centre Limited. They built on their similarities and strengths to develop the bid, which is remarkably similar to the Assets Based Community Development approach on the Nurture Development site that Chris references in his blog.

In terms of building on the strengths within the community, there’s no better place to start than with the board itself. Taking control of a building like the Muni is a huge responsibility, but the Muni’s board members are well placed to do so and to put strong governance processes in place. Jon Huish, a former councillor, has a great understanding of council processes and the public sector. Alun Taylor of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust specialises in governance. Rob Hughes, the Chair of Cylch Cymreig, runs a festival in Ynys-y-Bwl, and Gethin Williams, Chief Executive of the Town Council is also a Solicitor. Wendy York, the Chief Executive of Artis Community was responsible for much of the groundwork, has extensive experience of the arts and strong voluntary sector networks.

The council faced criticism from the community over its initial decision, and the asset transfers it had previously dealt with were on a much smaller scale. They were clear that they wanted to help the process and created an enabling grant fund. They took a risk in choosing to transfer the asset to the community, when a private sector development would have clear commercial benefits. It’s an example of decision making that focuses on the long term, and it’s the kind of approach that public services will have to show has been considered under the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

The community

With such a strong board, it would be easy for them to do what many other organisations have done over the years and use their own individual visions as a roadmap for the Muni. But the business case was based on the vision of the 150 people who attended the consultation event. It is rooted in the community, with the Muni as a hub for the regeneration for the wider area and the arts’ place within it.

A photo of the Think Food Life café inside the Muni

The Think Food Life café at the Muni

The café at the Muni is a social enterprise called Think Food Life, which focuses on people’s health and wellbeing by providing nutritional food. It’s the first café in Pontypridd that can cater for specific dietary requirements, and it aims for 80% of its food to come from local sources. There was interest from Merthyr and Valleys Mind to set up an allotment to provide vegetables for the Muni, and the idea was strengthened by the Muni Project veteran’s group, who proposed work on garden land at the Muni with potential support from the allotments society. The Muni has received funding from the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant as the recruitment centre used to be next door, which provides opportunities for veterans to take part in the Muni’s work, be it through volunteering or directly in the arts.

A Fit for Life project will also look to connect health and fitness work to the nutritional focus of the café, which shows how the Muni is looking to go beyond a strictly arts focus and be a hub for the entire community. The Muni is also looking at bringing organisations together at a strategic level to enable people to do more for themselves through working with Pontypridd YMCA and the development of the Courthouse, which will support the startup and growth of social enterprise.

Passion

This all shows what is possible when projects are based on the passion and talent of the community. The building itself is really impressive, just like the drive and determination of the board and the community members who’ve put in such incredible effort to make the project a success. If you’re looking to transfer an asset to the community, it’s worth asking how can you genuinely work with the community and build on their strengths?

Canolfan Gelf y Miwni: Trosglwyddiad ased a gafodd ei sbarduno gan y gymuned

Fe wnaeth y penderfyniad i gau Canolfan Gelf y Miwni ym Mhontypridd achosi protest mawr, a wnaeth hyn yn ei dro sbarduno’r gymuned i gymryd dros yr adeilad. Aeth Dyfrig Williams i’r ganolfan i ffeindio allan sut mae’r ganolfan wedi datblygu ers i’r ased cael ei drosglwyddo.

Ysgrifennodd Chris Bolton blogbost sbel yn ôl am sut all cythruddo eich dinasyddion arwain at weithredu cymunedol. Mae’n darn pryfoclyd am sut all cau ased cymunedol arwain at ymateb cryf o’r cyhoedd, a sut gall gwasanaethau cyhoeddus adeiladu ar gryfder yr ymateb yma.

Clywais am sut mae hynny wedi digwydd yng Nghanolfan Gelf y Miwni, lle wnaeth ymgyrch ar lawr gwlad i achub a datblygu’r ganolfan deillio o’r penderfyniad i gau’r adeilad gan y cyngor.

Cefndir

Llun o Ganolfan Celfyddydau'r Miwni

Canolfan Celfyddydau’r Miwni

Roedd protestiadau anferth pan wnaeth gwasanaethau diwylliannol y cyngor penderfynu roi’r gorau i Ganolfan y Miwni. Aeth 150 o bobl i ddigwyddiad ymgynghori ar ddyfodol yr adeilad mewn cwpl o oriau. Roedd nifer o grwpiau yn awyddus i wneud yn siŵr bod y ganolfan yn aros ar agor, a mynegodd nifer o gwmnïau ddiddordeb mewn prynu’r adeilad ar gyfer eu busnes. Daeth Artis Cymuned, Cyngor Tref Pontypridd, Cylch Cymreig ac Ymddiriedolaeth Adfywio’r Meysydd Glo gyda’i gilydd fel Gweithgor y Miwni a wnaethant ffurfio Ganolfan Gelf y Miwni Cyf. yn gyflym. Maent yn adeiladu ar eu cryfderau i ddatblygu’r cais, sy’n hynod o debyg i’r dull Datblygu Cymunedol sy’n Seiliedig ar Asedau ar wefan Nurture Development a wnaeth Chris cyfeirio ato yn ei flog.

Does dim lle gwell i ddechrau o ran adeiladu ar gryfderau’r gymuned na’r bwrdd ei hun. Roedd cymryd rheolaeth o adeilad fel y Miwni yn gyfrifoldeb enfawr, ond roedd aelodau’r bwrdd mewn sefyllfa dda i wneud hynny ac i roi prosesau llywodraethu cadarn mewn lle. Mae Jon Huish yn gyn-gynghorydd ac mae ganddo ddealltwriaeth grêt o brosesau’r cyngor a’r sector cyhoeddus. Mae Alun Taylor o Ymddiriedolaeth Adfywio’r Meysydd Glo yn arbenigo mewn llywodraethu. Mae Rob Hughes, Cadeirydd y Cylch Cymreig, yn rhedeg gŵyl yn Ynysybwl, ac mae Gethin Williams, Prif Weithredwr y Cyngor Tref hefyd yn Gyfreithiwr. Mae gan Wendy York, Prif Weithredwr Artis Cymuned, a oedd yn gyfrifol am lawer o’r gwaith sylfaenol, lot o brofiad o’r celfyddydau a rhwydweithiau cryf yn y sector gwirfoddol.

Wynebodd y cyngor beirniadaeth o’r gymuned dros ei benderfyniad, ac roedd y trosglwyddiad o asedau blaenorol wedi bod ar raddfa lot llai. Roeddent yn glir bod nhw eisiau helpu’r broses a wnaethant greu cronfa grant i alluogi hyn. Fe wnaethon nhw gymryd risg wrth ddewis i drosglwyddo’r ased i’r gymuned, pan fyddai datblygiad sector preifat wedi cael manteision masnachol clir. Mae hyn yn enghraifft o wneud penderfyniadau sy’n canolbwyntio ar yr hirdymor, a bydd rhaid i wasanaethau cyhoeddus datblygu’r math yma o feddylfryd wrth iddynt gyflawni ei gwaith o dan Ddeddf Lles Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol.

Y gymuned

Achos bod ganddynt fwrdd cryf, byddai’n hawdd gwneud beth mae llawer o sefydliadau eraill wedi ei wneud dros y blynyddoedd a defnyddio eu gweledigaethau eu hunain fel cynllun am y Miwni. Ond mae achos busnes y Ganolfan yn seiliedig ar weledigaeth y 150 o bobl a daeth i’r digwyddiad ymgynghori. Mae ei gwreiddiau yn y gymuned, ac mae’r Miwni yn edrych i fod y canolbwynt ar gyfer adfywio’r ardal ehangach a lle’r celfyddydau o fewn hynny.

Ffoto o Gaffi Think Food Life yn y Miwni

Caffi Think Food Life yn y Miwni

Mae caffi’r Miwni yn fenter gymdeithasol o’r enw Think Food Life, sy’n canolbwyntio ar iechyd a lles pobl drwy cynnig bwyd maethlon. Y caffi yw’r un cyntaf ym Mhontypridd sy’n gwerthu bwyd ar gyfer anghenion deietegol penodol, ac mae’n anelu i gael 80% o’i bwyd o ffynonellau lleol. Roedd diddordeb gan Mind Merthyr a’r Cymoedd i sefydlu rhandir i dyfu llysiau ar gyfer y Miwni, a chafodd y syniad ei gryfhau wrth i grŵp Prosiect Cyn-filwyr y Miwni. Fe wnaethon nhw cynnig gweithio ar dir yn y Miwni, ac mae yna gefnogaeth posibl o’r gymdeithas rhandiroedd. Mae’r Miwni wedi derbyn cyllid o Grant Cyfamod Cymunedol y Lluoedd Arfog achos roedd y ganolfan recriwtio arfer bod drws nesaf. Mae hyn yn rhoi’r cyfle i gyn-filwyr i gymryd rhan yng ngwaith y Miwni trwy wirfoddoli neu trwy weithio’n uniongyrchol yn y celfyddydau.

Bydd prosiect Addas am Oes hefyd yn edrych i gysylltu gwaith iechyd a ffitrwydd i waith y caffi, sy’n dangos sut mae’r Miwni yn edrych i fynd y tu hwnt i’r celfyddydau ac i fod yn ganolbwynt i’r gymuned gyfan. Mae’r Miwni hefyd yn edrych ar ddod â sefydliadau at ei gilydd ar lefel strategol i alluogi pobl i wneud mwy drostynt eu hunain trwy weithio gyda YMCA Pontypridd a datblygiad y Courthouse, a fydd yn cefnogi’r proses dechreuol a thwf mentrau cymdeithasol.

Angerdd

Mae hyn i gyd yn dangos beth sy’n bosib pan mae prosiectau yn seiliedig ar angerdd a thalent y gymuned. Mae’r adeilad ei hun yn wirioneddol drawiadol, yn union fel egni ac ymdrech y bwrdd a’r gymuned wrth iddynt ffocysu ar wneud y prosiect yn llwyddiant. Os ydych chi eisiau trosglwyddo ased i’r gymuned, mae’n werth gofyn sut allwch chi weithio gyda’r gymuned i adeiladu ar eu cryfderau?

Gwesty Seren: Effective asset transfer and a new way of providing respite care

As we live in challenging economic times, it’s likely that a lot of voluntary organisations and Town and Community Councils will have community assets transferred to them. Dyfrig Williams visited Gwesty Seren to hear the lessons learnt from their community asset transfer and how they deliver respite care.

We are often signposted to examples of good practice, but it’s not so often that we hear about a project with good practice to share for a few different reasons.

We went to Gwesty Seren, a hotel based in Gwynedd that offers supported holidays, to learn about how it’s been transferred successfully to the community. But I also had a broader interest in how they’re providing respite care in a very different way.

The charity’s work

Picture of Gwesty Seren

Gwesty Seren

Seren is a charity that is based in Blaenau Ffestiniog, which provides care for people with learning difficulties. The charity was founded 20 years ago under Care in the Community, with the aim of supporting people to move out of institutions and into the community. People create craft and art, which is then sold in the shop and market garden. This helped people to be independent so that they didn’t rely on fees from Gwynedd Council or private individuals, and it also gives them a chance to get a taste of work. This mentality has continued at Gwesty Seren, where they provide work experience.

Gwesty Seren decided to go further than standard respite care. They wanted to provide a different kind of care, so they created a 3 star hotel with a focus on supporting disabled people. The toilets and rooms have been developed so that they are accessible to everyone.

The hotel also allows families to stay there. Their research showed that a lot of families have received poor respite care in the past, so they weren’t happy to leave their children’s care entirely in the hands of someone they didn’t know. The hotel allows them to stay with their children if they want, but whilst also giving them the break they need. This unique service means that the hotel also provides spaces for people who receive services from nearby councils, like Conwy and Ceredigion, with families even travelling to stay from across the border in England.

The success of the hotel has led to it working with three companies that specialise in holidays for people with learning difficulties, and recently, two further companies that specialise in holidays for physically disabled people began using the facilities. The people who have stayed there often end up coming back and making a block booking.

A photograph of a room at Gwesty Seren

A room at Gwesty Seren

The history of the building

The building itself was originally built by Lord Newborough in 1728 as a summer house. It stayed like this until just after the First World War, when the family took in soldiers who had had an accident or shock in the war to have a break or respite.

In the 1930s the building was given to two Franciscan Monks. They invited homeless people to stay, with the youngest monk travelling to London to invite people to stay at Bryn Llywelyn, as it was called at the time. Then the building was sold to Meirionnydd Council as a residential house for children, before being turned into an old people’s home. In 2010 the Council decided to close it.

Seren made a bid for the building to the Welsh Government and the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Asset Transfer Fund. A full application was submitted, before the work began in 2013. The work was completed in April 2014.

Transferring the building

Usually the transfer of assets from the public sector take place free of charge, but in this case, the council decided to sell the building at less than the market price. The council had to go through committees and raise awareness through the media, so it was not a quick process.

The cost of everything, including the purchase, was around £1,000,000, and applying for grants was a laborious process. Because it required a significant amount, the charity went on to borrow from the Charity Bank.

They were aware that questions would be asked about State Aid, so the charity hired a Cardiff law firm that specialised in it. A report was written on minimising the risk and the document showed the rationale for why it did not break the rules. It was a great help when working with European Officers and the Welsh European Funding Office.

Key messages

So one of the main message from Gwesty Seren is that asset transfer isn’t a quick process. But it’s clear by looking at the comments on their TripAdvisor page that the hard work has been worth it. And from the testimonials of other customers (whether it’s directly to the hotel or in a newsletter), I can see that their respite care that has a big impact on people’s lives, has helped the regeneration of  Blaenau Ffestiniog by creating 10 full time jobs and is actively contributing to the area’s tourist industry.