There can be no denying that March is definitely here. The Development Officer team are busy visiting all their groups. Monitoring season is probably the best part of the DO job, but it can be very tiring too. It often feels like, there’s just not enough days in the month to get round and see everybody. We take this opportunity not only to monitor the spend of all the groups that have received funding from us over the year but also to meet up with groups who we haven’t seen all year. These visits aren’t just about money, they are about offering support and helping groups to develop, it’s an opportunity to discuss the challenges of the past year and plans for the future.
Last week I visited eight groups in South Wales, all of whom had different stories to tell. One of the groups had received a biodiversity grant, one had received a sustainable living grant, one had received a management grant, one a start up grant, one is now working on registration and the others all received project grants.
At the start of the week, I visited InterLink who have been working on a phase 1 SSL project. Together with Global Action Plan, they have been researching peoples behaviour towards saving energy in community buildings. Interlink are now waiting on the findings to see what the next stage will bring; what can they do to help people save energy? I’m looking forward to seeing some really positive outcomes.
Later on in the week, I visited the Mind Diggers allotment in Cardiff to be met with bad news. Unfortunately the groups shed had been broken into and a lot of their larger tools and equipment had been pinched, meaning that some of the project work has had to be put on hold until it is replaced. The group are now left with a hole in the floor which cannot be finished without the use of their circular saw and solar panels that can’t be put up until they can be sure that they are secure. Together, we worked on a plan to ensure that project targets can still be met and I have no doubt that the staff and volunteers enthusiasm will mean that they will soon have power in the poly tunnel and bees in the hive.
That same day, I found myself in Penrhys meeting with a group of well worked volunteers. The community food growing site looks great, based right in the centre of the community, the group have seen a lot of interest from local people. Environment Wales funded the construction of raised beds, a shed and pathways for disabled access. All of the hard work has been put in by local volunteers who have gained a huge amount of skills (and qualifications for some) as well as the opportunity to work together to create something of use to whole community. There is great excitment for the growing season to start.
Last thing on Friday, I met with Cardiff Conservation Volunteers who have had a really good year. Geraint told me “the Environment Wales grant has been great for us, it’s a really simple application, with minimal admin and maximum outcome. It has helped us to organise essential training, revamp our website and re-stock our tool store.” A nice positive note to finish the weekend on.
With more money in the pot for 2012-13, work has already started on project grant applications meaning that next years monitoring will be just as exciting.
Julie, BTCV Development Officer