Bridgend Communities First celebrating improving lives young and old

Published on Monday, 22 February, 2016

Bridgend Communities First Lower Cluster recently celebrated their achievements and successes with local Participants in celebration eventresidents at a celebration event at the Heronston Hotel in Bridgend.

The Welsh Government funded Communities First programme which is managed by Bridgend County Borough Council, work in selected postcodes throughout the area to support people to move into employment, gain qualifications and live healthy and active lives.

A film shown at the celebration event showed the positive impact Bridgend Communities First has on the local community. “Communities First put a series of building blocks in place through the different courses they run that have helped me to feel more confident and to deal with a lot of the anxieties that have plagued my life” said Michael.

“Somebody told me about Bridgend Communities First and a number of free courses that they were providing that could help me to develop plans for my new business” said Jeni and Cornelly Luncheon Club Secretary Diane Spanswick said: “10 of our volunteers recently passed a food safety course run by Bridgend Communities First. I’m sure that this played a big part in the excellent food hygiene rating that we got from the Food Standards Agency.”

You can download a short film here to listen to past participants’ stories >>>

From community drop-ins to accredited learning to pre-employment opportunities, Bridgend Communities First work with community groups, charities and employers to deliver a tailored package to meet residents’ needs. Working with local employers means that participants can gain guaranteed interviews for real jobs which so far this year, has led to 68 people receiving employment support and helped 10 people into employment.

Bridgend County Borough Council Chief Executive Darren Mepham who attended the celebration event said: “I was delighted to be invited to celebrate the achievements of people within the Bridgend Communities First Lower Cluster area.

“Occasions such as this really capture the breadth of the work being undertaken by Bridgend Communities First to remove barriers to access and deliver important life skills in health, education and financial management.  Judging from a packed house at the Heronston Hotel, the people of Bridgend have seized the opportunity with both hands, to take advantage of the support available to them through this Welsh Government funded programme.

“Many of the people who attended the event have overcome significant personal challenges to turn their lives around and their stories were both humbling and inspiring. It was a privilege to be part of such a positive occasion.”

Local residents have been supported with intensive literacy and numeracy support, received accredited qualifications and taken part in health related events and activities. There has also been some very important work within schools with the Numbers Count Project which has improved pupil’s numeracy skills by up to 27 months which is a significant amount for any pupil.

Local Cornelly Councillor Megan Butcher said: “This celebration highlights the resilience and tenacity of people within the local community who have overcome great obstacles to make their lives better.    Through their stories we’ve seen some great examples of what can be achieved.

“As someone who has represented the Cornelly community for more years than I care to remember, it is both reassuring and inspiring to see how Bridgend Communities First are reaching out to people who need help and, crucially, making a difference. I’ve been impressed by the range of courses that they provide and the efforts of the Communities First team to meaningfully engage with the community.

“I would urge people to take advantage of Communities First. They have improved people’s lives both young and old and long may it continue.”

If you would like to find out more about Bridgend Communities First E: communitiesfirst@bridgend.gov.uk or call 01656 810400.