Environment Wales supports organisations throughout Wales to take voluntary action on the environment. One such group is RAY Ceredigion, through their Recycling and Scrapstore project the staff and volunteers turn trash into treasure.
RAY Ceredigion was established in 2001 as an out-of-school network to support registered out-of-school childcare within the county of Ceredigion. Since 2005 the organisation has widened its remit to support open-access play facilities, training and education for children and those that support them as staff or volunteers. As part of this expansion the group took on a scrapstore which was originally established by EcoArt, a small volunteer-led group based in Aberystwyth that collected unwanted materials termed ‘scrap’ and transformed it into art. The scrapstore was functioning on a small scale; materials were collected by the group and used by RAY’s Craft play workers during their sessions with schools, afterschool clubs and youth clubs. They could see the potential in developing this aspect of their enterprise: through imaginative play, it fostered a creative outlet for young people to design bespoke items while at the same time consider issues around sustainability. Re-use of unwanted materials helped the group to reduce the amount of virgin materials used in craft activities and turn neglected items into products with intrinsic value.
With development and grant support from Environment Wales RAY Ceredigion has been able to further develop the scrapstore through the employment of a Scrapstore Manager and Volunteer Coordinator (job share). The increase in capacity has enabled the group to offer a range of free activities including ‘Family Fun Saturdays’ where participants make items out of recycled materials such as kites from plastic bags, flowers from plastic bottles and clocks from old LP’s. A new group, Clonc a Chrefft, meet each Wednesday morning to craft using recycled materials; the members make bowls and beautiful rugs. The group were awarded a training grant by Environment Wales that helped both staff and volunteers to discover new craft techniques; this enabled them to expand their skills and develop ideas and create goods for crafting workshops.
The Volunteer Coordinator element of the role supports existing and new volunteers involved with the project. The volunteers are encouraged to share ideas and use their creative skills to progress the project. Activities undertaken by volunteers include: collecting and sorting ‘scrap’ materials, promotion and publicity of the project and helping to design and deliver workshops to individuals and local groups. One such volunteer and is Louise James, a single parent living in Aberaeron she started to attend the mother and toddler sessions with her daughter. She saw how the project developed her child’s social and development skills through craft play and wanted to support the project. It wasn’t until her daughter started school that she saw an opportunity to volunteer with the project she started and hasn’t looked back. Volunteering has enabled Louise to use her creative skills to teach others how to create and craft items of value and to become more involved in the community. When asked what it means to volunteer for RAY Ceredigion, Louise said:
“I love it! I enjoy arts and crafts and like to make things with my sewing machine and just anything creative. Becoming a volunteer meant I was able to use my creative imagination, teach other adults and children. I love to socialise and meet new people and there is lots of socialising opportunities here at RAY. It’s such a help for me, I get out and involved with the community.”
RAY Ceredigion are based in Aberaeron and are always interested in hearing from potential volunteers to get involved with the scrap store, for more information please visit http://www.rayceredigion.org.uk/English%20pages/volunteering.html