Paul, Kathy and Phil made me welcome as always at the Mount and we went through the confusion of forms, monitoring for last year, submissions for next and all complicated by incompatibility between our forms and their aged computer programmes. My head was spinning eventually so I hate to think how Kathy’s was. This project is so admirable, they have been starved of funding for some years now and most of the community work they undertake is driven by Kathy who is a volunteer. And yet this is exactly the sort of project people say they want to see, being absolutely of the community in which it is set. Some of you may have seen the somewhat skewed programme about the deprivation on the Mount Estate http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0163zdb Indeed there are bad things that do happen and many lives fractured through ill health or drink and drug addiction but the people who live there are determined to do something to make the residents lives better and to give them opportunities to help themselves. They have found their community woodland to be a wonderful engagement tool. Phil, the EW funded post, with his quiet manner and long blue stare, soon became a respected figure amongst the young men and has delivered way more than I could have expected. They are an exemplar of how including young people in projects gets them to respect them and I was amused to hear Paul telling Kathy he had spoken to so and so about clearing up and told him that putting all your cans in a bag and leaving them was not good enough and he had apologised. Most groups would try to stop people getting drunk in the woods but this group believes it is the communities woods and if they want to get drunk in it then fine but respect the space and clear up afterwards. And, apart from the recent episode when the bodgers camp was damaged, they get little vandalism.
Paul has just done 5 days blacksmithing training, paid for by EW, at Ruskin Mill’s Plas Dwbl. He was glowing with pride at his poker and quite rightly too as it was a work of art and now he will be able to pass on that enthusiasm to others.
From Milford Haven it was a 35 minute drive over to Newgale. That view as you come down the hill towards the village is always breathtaking. I was able to glance at the fantastic bit of phragmites wetland that the National Trust has been developing over the road from the beach by blocking the drains and which is really starting to look good now before going up the hill to the YMCA outdoor centre. The two groups could not contrast more, one earthy, a bit disorganised because they have so much to do and deeply committed to their community and the other calm, very organised and deeply committed to their beliefs. However they are both working for the same thing to improve lives and develop respect for nature. The Y, as they like to be called, have started an interesting project, that they want to get a management grant for, based around using growing food to engage young people in the lessons of global citizenship. and the impact our decisions have on the wider world. I came away enthused by their plans and look forward to helping them with the submission.