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Communities step up to look after local treasures

Communities are joining forces with the council to protect and promote some of their best-loved facilities.

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Community centres and parks are often the heartbeat of their local areas, so the council is stepping up its efforts to work with local groups to keep them going despite austere times.

So far more than 30 organisations have taken over the day-to-day management of local centres and more parks than ever before are attracting friends' groups to help support their activities too.

The council has set up a £300,000 Community Action Transformation Fund to support groups who want to manage community facilities previously run by the local authority and need a little help to acquire skills or equipment, for example.

Cllr Mark Child, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Healthy City, said: "One of the most striking things about this approach is that it unleashes all the ideas local residents have to shape their community centre or park.

"The council welcomes community groups who have strong evidence of a sustainable approach in taking over facilities and services, and we will help them build this.

"Community influence means facilities are tuned into the needs of local people, and that makes them a more vibrant hub that can make a difference every day."

A good example of this is the Friends of Swansea Botanical Complex which has been working alongside the council for 22 years at the Singleton Botanical Gardens, raising funds and putting in thousands of hours of volunteering to boost visitors' experiences there.

They've just launched a campaign to raise more than £30,000 to help create a wildflower and wellbeing garden at the Botanical Gardens.

Group Secretary Jane Terrett said the new garden would be particularly appealing to local residents and children. 

She said: "Natural spaces and the rich diversity of life they support contribute to a healthy living environment and provide a range of physical and mental health benefits.

"The combination of natural green space and local opportunities for social walking and other activities means green exercise can be a cheap and sustainable way of preventing public health problems.

"Planting wildflowers attracts bees and wildlife. Wildflower gardens offer tremendously important habitats for a great variety of insects and small rodents, along with birds."

The Community Action Transformation Fund (CATF) is one of a range of grant and loan opportunities on offer from the council. The fund is open to residents or organisations proposing to run council services locally or to facilitate the transfer of community assets.

The next deadline for applications is March, 2017.

There are also community grant and loan grants available. Information can be found at www.swansea.gov.uk/communityaction

You can also donate to the fundraising effort for the botanical gardens at www.localgiving.org/appeal/wildflowers  


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