When Seven Arches landscape and wildlife Group approached the fund in March 2022, they were a newly established group that aims to improve and restore the walkways, paths, and public open spaces around Cymmer, Afan.
The group brings together volunteers who have an interest in improving the local environment and encouraging others to get involved too.
The fund supported them with a small start-up grant of £871.70 for equipment and kit. The funding was very gratefully received but they found early on that some of the lower cost tools were not fit for purpose and so ended up purchasing fewer but better-quality tools that won’t need to be replaced as often.
They have made great progress in removing dead trees, scrub and similar to open up the canopy and enable light to reach the valley floor. This should significantly help previously suppressed native ground flora to thrive in the coming years. Now the vegetation has also died back with winter, they are also assessing areas to improve, including the re-establishment of long drained wetland areas suitable for newts, frogs, toads and alike. They have received a really positive response from local community and are working with organisations and agencies to be sure they have all appropriate permissions and safeguarding in place.
They have had over forty people directly volunteer with group activities and regularly have ten or more volunteers during Sunday sessions and they are now approaching five hundred volunteer hours since forming.
“There are various reasons people want to take part, from outdoor exercise, meeting new people, improving the local area, historical interest and always those keen for some firewood. We also have local crafts people using the dead standing (dangerous by the paths) trees to create local produce but we recognise we need to advertise in lots of ways and not rely on social media so that the whole of community know what we are doing and are able to get involved.
There were lots of unexpected outcomes such as collaborating with the Glyncorrwg environment group, Gwynfi environment group and the Afan Environmental Volunteers. We jointly established a shared WhatsApp group to enable collaborative efforts to occur. The process of applying to PyC worked well and being able to have face to face meetings prior to the application was very useful during our first ever funding application. The group has grown from strength to strength, and we are all looking forward to growing the group into 2023.” – Tiff