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Issue 63 Spring 2014

Connecting Communities

The newsletter for voluntary organisations and community groups in Rhondda Cynon Taf

Community Link Interlink News The Interlink Newsletter

Welcome ..... to the Spring edition of Interlink’s Newsletter. If you would like to contribute to the next issue please send your articles, information, job vacancies or advertisements by: 25 July 2014 to Cara Jordan-Evans at Interlink by e-mail:

In this issue we have: 2 The Big Issues 2-3 Phase One Cuts 4 Volunteering Awards 5 Volunteering 6-7 Young People 8-9 Volunteer Story 10 Local Volunteering 11 BIG Wales Volunteering 12 Mental Health 13-14 Interlink Review 15 Training 16 Community Link

Our address: 6 Melin Corrwg, Cardiff Road Upper Boat, Pontypridd CF37 5BE Tel number: 01443 846200 Fax: 01443 844843 E-mail: Website: Office opening times are: Monday - Thursday: 9.00am - 5.00pm Friday: 9.00am - 4.30pm

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Welcome to the renamed ‘Community Link’ newsletter which links people and communities and promotes all the fantastic work being done in RCT by our members and partners. So much happening in RCT, it is difficult to find the space to cover all the issues in any depth.

The Big Issues in RCT

The Big Issue for communities has been public sector cuts and very much in the news, the cuts proposed from Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council. This has been very difficult for everyone concerned, not just the level of cuts, but the time in which they have to be implemented. We have not had an opportunity to have a full and meaningful discussion with people and partners about the impact of the cuts. This has meant it has been hard to join the dots. For example, we have a lot of community buildings in RCT, often struggling to make ends meet – and there could have been an opportunity to work with communities to design spaces that could act as new Community Hubs, providing a place for people to come together, to volunteer, to reduce isolation, to provide a range of services and activities for everyone in the community. Instead important local services and facilities such as libraries and day centres are closing and more empty buildings. However, there are some real positives. It may be tough out there but we have seen some amazing people come up with incredible ideas. The work by Beddau and Ty Nant Library and Community Hub to involve their community is one example of the brilliant work taking place. What this shows is that if people work together, we will not only be able to save, but provide even better community facilities. See more information on the cuts on page 4.

Rewarding Volunteering – less services means relying more on

community volunteers, and new roles for all of us and the public sector. We need to make sure we all have the ability to listen and work with communities, recognising all the skills and commitment they bring, and be flexible enough to provide them with the support and help they need. And we need to better recognise and reward volunteers. See great volunteering stories on pages 5 through to 12. Now is your opportunity to nominate an individual or group for a VOLUNTEERING AWARD – See more information on page 5. ‘I’m more aware of services available for young people, it has raised the issue that we don’t always know what is available or use the services out there to their full potential.’ Attendee at AGM

Together for Mental Health - Interlink has a lot of work to do with

partners following our Conference and AGM in November. Our ‘Involve’ project has helped recruit 5 service user and carer representatives elected onto the Mental Health Partnership and bring a new focus to the meetings and a new challenge to the way and the pace at which we work. Improving wellbeing is important for us all. See more information on pages 13 and 14.

The Big Issues

Dates for your Diary Mental Health Forum 29 April 2014 10.00am - 12.00pm Contact Maria Abson

Fframwaith VSPG

Attendees at Interlink’s AGM

Transforming what we do?

Lots of people including members, networks, partners, staff and trustees were kind enough to take part in our Interlink Review. We learnt a lot and there is a huge amount of work we need to do. We need to work with everyone to really listen and involve as many people as possible. RCT is incredibly rich in the number of groups and communities that connect to thousands of people – the church groups, the WI, community centres, U3A, peer support and self-help groups. We need to get everyone together, get rid of the barriers and provide the connections between large and small organisations; between the public, voluntary and private sector; and between volunteers and professionals. See more information on pages 15.

Next Steps Connecting Communities Locality Events Diary Marker We are planning Connecting Communities Locality Events to do just that – funded by RCT CBC – to connect community services under one roof – but we need you to make it work!

Details to follow, but here are the dates:

Taff Ely - 22 May at Hawthorn Leisure Centre at 10.00am - 4.00pm Rhondda - 11 June at Rhondda Sports Centre at 10.00am - 4.00pm Cynon Valley - 2 July at Michael Sobel Centre at 10.00am - 4.00pm YOU can use these events to connect and influence! The workshops will look at shaping services in your area, achieving instant and longer term improvement with better connectivity. These events have been commissioned by RCT CBC so that public sector staff and commissioners can collaborate more effectively with communities and the voluntary sector. We can make it happen together!

29 April 2014 2.00pm - 5.00pm at Interlink Contact Maria James


1 July 2014 9.30am - 12.00pm at Interlink Contact Anne Morris

Fframwaith VSPG

8 July 2014 9.00am - 12.00pm at Interlink Contact Maria James

Mental Health Forum 29 July 2014 10.00am - 12.00pm Contact Maria Abson

Connecting Communities Locality Events 22 May Hawthorn Leisure Centre 10.00am- 4.00pm 11 June Rhondda Sports Centre 10.00am - 4.00pm 2 July Michael Sobel Centre 10.00am - 4.00pm

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Phase One Cuts Communities Step Up to the Plate to Respond to Council Cuts Interlink has been busy with lots of people trying to work out what can be done in communities where the Council has made a decision to close services. While we are sadly losing a number of key services, we have also seen an amazing response from communities looking to develop new or replacement services. Interlink has been helping a number of groups to put together plans to the Council to use buildings that are no longer required and it has been great to see so many talented people come forward to help out their local communities, such as the proposed Community Hub in Beddau, who are also

working working with Taffs Well Community Hub around library services. Coalfields Regeneration Trust are helping a number of groups providing funding through the Community Enterprise Network to help groups to develop their business plans. Interlink has also worked with a number of groups to hold themed events to think about the impact on the people who receive these services and to look at new ways of addressing those needs and new ways of providing services.

Summary of Workshops to Lessen Impact of Phase 1 Service Changes Cuts to Library Services Co-Hosts:

Cuts to Nursery Services Co-Hosts:

Key concerns:

Main Concerns:

• Less access to IT provision for people – especially people on Job Seekers Allowance

• Impact on working families on a low income / children with additional needs

• Increased Isolation

• Capacity to co-ordinate response to meet demand in timescales

Ben Treharne-Foose (Penrhys Partnership) and Keiron Montague (Maerdy)

• Reduced access to books and lifelong learning opportunities

Cuts to Youth Services Co-hosts:

Rebecca Arnold (Ynysybwl Community Voice) and Gareth Newton (Upper Cynon Communities First) Main Concerns: • Disengaged young people even more at risk, more isolated • Some young people won’t be able to get home from E3 without transport. This will effect families without transport • Fragmented opportunities for young people to have a voice

Cuts to Day Centres and Meals on Wheels Co-host:

Rachel Rowlands and Michelle Bird (Age Connect Morgannwg) Main Concerns: • Increased isolation amongst older people • Impact on wellbeing (isolation impacts on wellbeing more than smoking) Page 4

Teleri Jones (RCT Meithrin) and Kathryn Williams (Dylans Den)

• Issues around transport for Welsh medium and faith schools

Key Actions: • Look at transforming retained services to be much more person centred • Look at Social Enterprise Solutions for meals on wheels and other care services: - Raise awareness of ‘Direct Payments’ • Develop network of projects to reduce isolation • Explore how to better promote community based youth provision provided by community groups and raise awareness of support • Work closely with LA to gain clarity around child care training needs and how they can be met For more information contact Simon James: or Jenny O’Hara-Jakeway: or call 01443 846200

Volunteering Awards Nominations are now open for RCT’s Volunteer Awards Celebration Evening Did you know that over 500,000 people in Wales volunteer formally with an organisation and up to 2,000,000 informally helping family and friends? That means nearly the majority of people in Wales are involved in volunteering! That’s around 40,000 formal volunteers and nearly 200,000 informal volunteers in RCT alone! Don’t miss your chance to recognise and celebrate the work of the dedicated and inspirational individuals and groups of volunteers across RCT. Every volunteer that is nominated receives a certificate and as many as 100 volunteers will be invited to the celebration evening, on Friday 13 June 2014. That’s exactly what happened to Barbara Powell of Pontyclun Bosom Pals, last year’s winner. Pictured below on the right being presented with her award by best-selling Welsh author and local celebrity Catrin Collier.

This year the event has seven nomination categories: • • • • • • •

Individuals Groups Health and Social Care Service User and / or Carer Older People Children, Young People and Families Supporting People

This celebration event is solely funded through our brilliant sponsors, Tydfil Training Consortium, Social Care Workforce Development Partnership, Rhondda Housing, RCT Homes and FFramwaith, the Children and Young People’s Partnership in RCT.

Nominate someone you know TODAY! The closing date for nominations is 9 May 2014 Nomination forms are available by calling 01443 846200 Alternatively follow the link on our website

Spectacle Theatre Volunteering Opportunity Spectacle Theatre run workshops and shows with the aim to educate using the arts. Using new and different measures to help others express emotions and raise awareness of certain issues. The current promotion is mental health and changing the stigma attached to such a title. They have started creating a fund raising calendar and require regular and reliable volunteers to

be a part of these events. The next event is at Asda, Tonypandy on 24 April at 10.00am-3.00pm or 3.00pm-7.00pm and will consist of bag packing and collecting tins. Their 6 month aim is to have at least 1 big event every month. They would also like to create and events team to work closely with them and fundraise on their behalf.

Interested? Then visit to see more about these opportunities. Page 5

Volunteering Introducing Christine Davies, Volunteering Development Officer. My role involves supporting voluntary organisations in RCT to develop quality volunteer management practices, which links in perfectly with my role as an Investing in Volunteers Assessor and Advisor. I also support voluntary

organisations by publicising volunteering and sign posting potential volunteers to appropriate organisations. One method of publicising volunteering that I particularly enjoy is organising the Annual Volunteers Awards evening. Contact Christine Davies on 01443 846200 or e-mail:

Volunteers aren’t paid, not because they’re worthless but because they’re priceless. The impact volunteering has is well documented. Volunteering can change people’s lives, broadening experiences, building confidence, turning negatives into positives and giving people real, usable skills which enable them to move on in life. That may not necessarily be into employment, it could be enabling them to stay / be healthier mentally, physically or emotionally. The outcome of volunteering also impacts on communities, volunteering in communities not only strengthens the individual and the organisation they volunteer for but ultimately the community they work in as well. It is estimated that there are over 33,000 third sector organisations working in Wales. 3974 of them provide services in RCT, while 2604 provide a service in Merthyr Tydfil.

When we look at the value of the volunteering hours, volunteers contribute either through organisations or informally and add that to the overall income of the organisations in Wales, we get an estimate of the contribution volunteering makes to the Welsh economy. The Citizenship survey indicates that 191 million hours of voluntary effort is given in a year, which is worth £2.2 billion. This is equivalent to nearly 5 per cent of Wales GDP (Gross Domestic Product). But when you add this to the estimated £1.6 billion of third sector income, this gives you a total of £3.8 billion, which is roughly equivalent to 8 per cent of Wales GDP.

Source: WCVA All Wales Database, July 2012.

Interlink’s volunteer, Daniella said, ‘To date we have logged 1106 hours from our volunteers with an average of 61 in the 3 months that I have been with Interlink and this data is updated on a weekly basis.’

Maternity Volunteers Project Volunteering Opportunity

Learn and Grow Volunteering Opportunity

Could you help support antenatal care?

Are you interested in developing your local environment?

They are looking for a special volunteer to join the friendly team and show pregnant mothers and their families around the maternity units in Prince Charles hospital, Tair Afon Birth Centre or the Royal Glamorgan hospital. By you volunteering you will be making a contribution to the care that women receive, whilst allowing midwives to concentrate on providing midwifery care for women. They would like a volunteer who is available approximately 2-4 hours per week and who is available between 6.00pm-8.00pm in the evening or between 10.00am-12.00pm on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

The Upper Rhondda Environmental Group are looking for volunteers to help develop and improve local woodlands and community areas. You will: • Learn new skills and meet new people • Get involved in our areas low carbon greener future • Be outside enjoying yourself The group will meet one or two days a week (Monday and Wednesday) to undertake the work.

Interested? Then visit to see more about these opportunities. Page 6


Kelly’s Story with toogoodtowaste I met Kelly for coffee and listened to her life story and the impact volunteering has had on her. Kelly told me, that she’d left school without any qualifications at the age of 14 because she was pregnant. She went on to have another 3 children. Kelly admits being a full time mum to 4 healthy, happy, active children wasn’t easy, especially as for 2 years of that time she was a single parent. On times Kelly felt ‘down’ and there were times when she’d see the children off to school and spend the day crying. She says about that time, ‘I was fed up and miserable, I felt as if I was stuck at home, looking after children. I was unemployed and had nothing to look forward to.’ In order to relieve the boredom and as she saw it, improve her frame of mind, Kelly started smoking cannabis. She later realised this wasn’t the answer and created more problems than it solved. The expense of buying cannabis threatened the family budget and for Kelly her children always came first. So she made the decision the cannabis had to go. Kelly self-referred to TEDS where she found the help and support she needed. Via TEDS she got involved with the Peer Mentoring Programme and in turn was referred to the Volunteer Centre at Interlink. ‘I honestly thought I wouldn’t get a volunteering role because I didn’t have any go in me. I was quite negative about it all, I didn’t expect to get anything out of it. That’s why I was so surprised at how quickly things happened. I met Chris on the Friday and had a phone call on Monday inviting me to meet everyone at toogoodtowaste the next day. I officially started the following Monday. Volunteering is fantastic, before I started volunteering I had problems with my self-esteem and confidence. I couldn’t talk to strangers and wouldn’t look people in the eye. toogoodtowaste put me on customer services, which meant I had to deal with people, now it seems really natural to ask strangers if they need help or what I can do for them.

Volunteering has made me more confident, I’m meeting lots of new people and enjoy their company now. I get on with everyone. Volunteering has made me feel really good about myself. I feel as if I’m important now, before I didn’t really matter to anyone, or that’s how I felt anyway.’ Volunteering has also made a difference to Kelly’s home life. She now feels as if she’s got something to talk to her children about and is setting them a good example. She told me, ‘The children tell all their friends and teachers about what I do. They’re proud of me now and respect me more than they ever have. My partner said he doesn’t mind looking after the children for me to volunteer because he’s proud of me because I’m doing something with my life.’ Kelly explained how the children seem closer to her partner now she thinks that’s because he spends more time with them. When Kelly talks about the future, she has a different attitude than she had six months ago. ‘I didn’t have anything on my CV so couldn’t ever imagine finding paid work but now things are changing, I’ve got experience of till work, customer service, store cleaning and stock rotation. I’d love to get a paid job in retail. I know toogoodtowaste will give me a reference as well. I’ve got something to offer an employer now. It doesn’t bother me that I’m not paid at the moment because I’m doing something I enjoy and get so much out of.’ says Kelly. She made me smile when she said ‘thank you for getting me into volunteering. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be doing anything with my life.’ The Volunteering Team wish her every success for the future.

Interested in Volunteering! For more information about volunteering contact the Volunteer Centre on 01443 846200 or e-mail: or Page 7

Young People Introducing Thomas Crockett, Youth Volunteering Officer. As the local GwirVol Advisor I promote volunteering to 16-25 year olds in Rhondda Cynon Taf, though I am happy to speak with over 25’s too! I am currently working on a partnership with the University of

South Wales and are looking for volunteer placements for their students, so if you wish to recruit young volunteers, or are trying to develop a project with young people, please give me a call on 01443 846200 or by e-mail:

The Vol Factor Update The Vol Factor is a youth-led grant scheme supporting volunteering projects for 14-25 year olds in Rhondda Cynon Taf. The Vol Factor, administered by Interlink and funded by GwirVol, is managed by a panel of 14-25 year olds recruited through previous schemes, who came up with the name and decided on the criteria for the grants.

This year the panel awarded grants to eight projects, namely: • New Horizons (Theatre Project) • Aberdare Valley Association Football League (Junior Development Centre) • Fernhill Youth Project (Volunteer Rewards Scheme) • RCT People First (Self Advocacy through Music) • Game On Wales (Darranlas Sports) • Spectacle Theatre (Risky Behaviour) • Glyncoch Communities First (Youth Forum and Messy Play)

These projects were showcased at The Vol Factor Celebration Event in Glyncoch Community Centre, at the end of March. Interlink has applied for funding to administer The Vol Factor again in 2014/15 and plans to run the scheme again next year.

For more information please contact Thomas Crockett, Interlink Volunteering Development Officer by telephone on 01443 846200 or e-mail:

Volunteering Opportunity with South Wales Pirates Wheelchair Rugby Club The South Wales Pirates Wheelchair Rugby club is well-established and has been running since 1989. The club has several players who are Paralympic veterans and one current GB player, also with new talent developing with keen hopes for Rio 2016! The club is a friendly welcoming team and they are looking for a club Secretary to carry out administrative duties. The Secretary will not need to be present at every training session and admin duties can be carried out from home. Page 8

All out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed. There are no set hours, commitment will be a minimum of 5-10 hours a month. The sport itself is very exciting and a great spectator sport as well as participating, there is also a great social network within the Wheelchair Rugby Family. Interested? Then visit to see more about this opportunity.

Young People Introducing Daniella, Volunteer. Hi, I’m Daniella Friend; I am the new Outcomes Research Volunteer at Interlink, I have been here for 3 months now. I am studying Public and Emergency Services at the University of South Wales. I have a daughter called Alice Luna who is six months old and live in a small village near Caerphilly. I enjoy playing the Violin with any spare time I get and my favourite place to go to is Techniquest and any Museum I come across.

I first decided to get involved with Interlink when my course tutor sent an email informing us that Interlink were looking for a volunteer, my role within Interlink is to contact organisations, collect data of volunteer hours and then at the end of the year I will write a report stating the final results of the volunteer hours. For more information contact me by e-mail:

101 Students Volunteer At the Volunteer Centre we are now preparing for a second year of work with the Student Services department of the University of South Wales (USW). If you would like to recruit USW students as volunteers for your project, please contact Thomas Crockett on 01443 846200 or by e-mail: Our first year of formal collaboration went well. Thomas Crockett and Sam Griffiths were on Outreach on the Treforest Campus every Thursday and Friday, and a grand total of 101 students, from 20 different courses, were registered as Volunteers in RCT and the surrounding areas. 52 organisations in total were provided with Volunteers. We also collaborated on two different volunteering fairs, attended by 27 groups and 416 students, and worked with Schools such as Psychology, Social Sciences, Biology, Law Accounting and Finance, Sociology and Criminology throughout the year. Merv Smith, Community and Events Fundraising Manager from Follow Your Dreams in Llantwit Fardre said of the Volunteer Fayre in February: ‘I certainly found the event well organised and well attended by both students who are serious about volunteering and the wonderful charities that were represented, each offering volunteers a set of potentially life changing experiences that will remain with them for ever. The venue was outstanding with all facilities anyone could wish for. A huge well-done to Interlink and the University of South Wales for this event, I really hope you organise more in the future.’

Interlink is hosting three student volunteers from the USW: Eduard Partenie and Geoff Blanche are carrying out energy assessments for community buildings under the supervision of Ken Moon, Interlinks Social Enterprise Development Officer, while Daniella Friend is doing some great work carrying out Outcomes Research for the Volunteer Centre. Daniella said: ‘I am volunteering because I am doing a work experience module in University, so originally I just wanted some experience, but after spending 3 months at Interlink it has made me realise you are supposed to enjoy your job, like I enjoy my Interlink RCT placement. This has inspired me to look for a job I will enjoy rather than just any job.’

Merv Smith at the Volunteer Fayre

We feel we have developed an excellent working relationship with the University of South Wales Careers team and will be working even closer next year, and with the USW actively encouraging its students to engage there are a potential 33,000 volunteers at the USW - a very exciting resource for the sector. Page 9

Volunteer Story

Pontypridd Food Bank Representatives of St. Luke’s Church in Rhydyfelin first contacted the Volunteer Centre in January 2012. At that time they were exploring ways in which the church could support their local community and in particular, disadvantaged groups. The church had considered setting up a youth project but their lack of a church hall made that impossible. They had recently visited a food bank in Pontyclun, there they discovered that the Pontyclun Food Bank was supporting 400 families a year outside their area and that the majority of these families were in the Pontypridd area, the decision was easy, the church would establish the Pontypridd Food Bank and provide 3 days emergency food supply to approximately 400 families a year who were in need.

Once 5-8 volunteers had been recruited they began setting up the project. There were some initial problems that had to be overcome. The first came to light when someone commented that the church floor was 1/3 covered by carrier bags full of donated food. This problem was overcome by converting the church pews into storage cupboards on one wall of the church. Once these cupboards were full, more storage was needed. The solution came in the from of a wellwisher who was writing a ‘lifetime’ will. She wanted to ‘will’ her inheritance to a cause that would benefit the community and wanted something that she could see a tangible result from. The resulting £2500 was used to purchase a large storage container (with a guaranteed £1000 buy back value).

Initially just 5 people were involved, Father Michael Gable, Warwick and Irene Butler, Betty Davies and Megan Davies. Their first priority was to get more people involved, Father Michael secured the support of the whole church, who agreed the use of the church and to initially fund the project. Warwick and Irene set about finding volunteers and made an appointment to see Chris, one of the Volunteering Development Officers at Interlink.

Today Pontypridd Food Bank is financially independent of St. Luke’s Church and has even repaid the money the church invested in them initially. The team of almost 15 volunteers not only met their first year target of supplying food to 400 families but have massively exceeded it, supporting over 1559 families in their first 24 months.

At their first meeting with Chris, they wanted information and advice on every aspect of volunteering including Recruiting Volunteers, Health and Safety, Volunteering Policies, Role Descriptions, CRB’s and all the topics were discussed. Far from being daunted by the task ahead, Warwick and Irene were enthused and couldn’t wait to take all the information back to the rest of the church. Page 10

42 organisations working in and around the Pontypridd area can issue food vouchers to people in need, including CAB, G.P’s, Housing Association, Social Workers, Child and Family Teams and Women’s Aid. I met Warwick again a few weeks ago when he visited the Volunteer Centre. Typical of Warwick he hadn’t come looking for praise for the outstanding success the group has had but instead he was asking for help to find even more volunteers, stating ‘if we had more people involved, we could achieve so much more.’

Local Volunteering Warwick told me ‘It’s essential our volunteers are open minded. Some people may question why we’re delivering a food parcel to a family in a nice home with a 40 inch TV in the living room. But our volunteers know, these days anyone can experience a bad patch. Just because a family has a good standard of living now, redundancy or ill health could change that overnight and they’ll need our support. People never forget the help we give them, we’ve already had people we’ve supported, come back and make donations, once they’re back on their feet.’

I was also told that ‘we’ve had a lot of support from local business’ Tesco allowed us to have a food collection at one of their stores recently. Their customers donated items at the check-out, at the end of the day Tesco weighed the food that had been donated and gave us the profit they made on it back as a donation.’ For more information about Pontypridd Food Bank contact 07779 521345 or e-mail: Saint Luke’s Church, Cardiff Road, Rhydyfelin, Pontypridd CF37 5LG

Leading Charity are Opening Longer to Serve the Community Better Local re-use and recycling charity toogoodtowaste are extending their opening hours from Monday 10 March in their Ynyshir branch to 5.00pm every day. The charity shop will be open 9.00am - 5.00pm Monday to Saturday and 11.00am - 5.00pm Sunday. They are

extending their hours to try and help even more people in need and to help those who may be unable to visit on their current Monday - Saturday openings, giving the community more opportunities to choose re-use and to support their local community project.

If you would like to find out more about the work they do you can visit their website at or follow their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Volunteering at GrEW The volunteer experience is important to us at Grow Enterprise Wales (GrEW). GrEW is a social enterprise which prides itself on helping people move into employment. At GrEW, we continuously look at ways we can help people in our neighbourhoods overcome barriers to employment. If you are looking for work experience to ‘fill the gap’ on your CV, gain some new skills or a reference for potential employers, GrEW can help. As an organisation which helps people move into employment, we often see first hand the impact a lack of experience or qualifications can have upon an individual, their families and their communities. As a volunteer you will have access to our Job Club where we offer a range of employability workshops, including writing application forms to interview skills as well as a chance to search for jobs online and attend recruitment fairs in our Employment and Learning Zone.

We offer several initiatives to reward the time you spend volunteering with GrEW. Our GrEW Guarantee offers the opportunity to gain qualifications in first aid, manual handling and health and safety. One of our recent and most popular initiatives has been the GrEW driving school. Volunteers can exchange their volunteering hours for free driving lessons and employees benefit from lessons at a reduced rate. The importance of being able to drive in today’s tough economic climate can make the difference between being employed or feeling that your employment hopes are limited due to a lack of a driving licence. In addition, our newly launched CSCS Test Centre has also helped people who want to work in the construction industry overcome significant employment barriers. As the only test centre within RCT, GrEW offers a comprehensive training option, along with the test at our centre in Gellihirion Industrial Estate. For more information contact GrEW on 01443 494660. Page 11

BIG Wales Volunteering Introducing Samuel Griffiths, Wales Volunteering Officer. Sam Griffiths started with us through Future Jobs Fund. Sam has held a number of roles, including developing a database of third sector organisations for the University Health Board before working on a range of Engagement

The BIG story so far…

At the beginning of March I joined other BIG Wales Volunteering project officers in mid-wales for what would be our final conference. It was an opportunity to share experiences, stories, and most importantly discuss the legacy of our work. Funded by WCVA, Wales Volunteering has helped people with additional support needs into volunteering for the past two years. At the end of April this project will sadly come to a close. With this in mind, it seemed a good opportunity to reflect on the projects work within RCT, as well as share some of the fantastic stories that have emerged. The numbers bit: bear with me! Whilst I don’t want to bog this article down with statistics, the sheer quantity of support needs we are seeing is staggering. Across this last year (April 2013 – present day) I have worked with 135 individuals – 100% of which fit into a category of additional support needs, with long term unemployed making up a large proportion of the numbers. This often comes with other issues such as mental ill-health, or physical disabilities, that restrict everything from work viability to confidence. 82% of the people require additional support. Out of the 135 individuals, 58 have taken up volunteering as a result of the project and I expect this figure to only go up through the final month! The funding from BIG gave us the opportunity to support the growth of volunteers themselves through delivering key skills training courses through an outreach program which had very positive results. If I had to single out one piece of learning from this training, I’d say it probably has to be that volunteers like biscuits! (who knew?!) Of course, the most important part to reflect upon is the progress made by the volunteers themselves. For many, it has been a long journey of overcoming boundaries. Page 12

Gateway funded employability projects to support those furthest from employment. Over the last two years Sam has made a huge impact working on the Big funded Volunteering in Wales project. Sam has brought a fresh proactive no-nonsense approach to the Volunteer Team, he is a great asset and he will be missed by everyone here at Interlink.

A constant reminder throughout though is that sometimes people just need a little support in order to access the fantastic benefits of volunteering. As part of the BIG Wales Volunteering Project, WCVA are planning to make a series of short films. I am delighted to be able to say that one of those stories is going to be from RCT and involves a volunteer I met right at the beginning.

Jonathan has schizophrenia and a criminal record. For him, the last 10 years have been an uphill struggle trying to rebuild his life. Jonathan is incredibly open about this. Age Connect Morgannwg (formerly Age Concern) agreed to take him on. It was a year of checks and assessments, but eventually Jonathan joined the Age Connect Volunteer Team and has been doing incredibly well there ever since. It is this story that we will be filming soon, so keep your eyes out for it! With organisations such as Age Connect Morgannwg being able to just give that little extra help, we can all accomplish great things for the voluntary sector in RCT, but most importantly for the volunteers themselves. With the financial year drawing to a close I am pleased with what has been accomplished, and look forward to seeing the learning we reported on spread to all the volunteer centres within Wales. To everyone who supported the project over the past two years, thank you.

Mental Health We need YOUR ideas to fight the stigma of mental health World Mental Health Day in October is a global annual event aimed at raising awareness of mental health issues and addressing stigma. World Mental Health

Day is a way of people working together to put on events, plan, network and promote mental health issues.

Planning is just about to get started for this year. If you are an organisation with an interest in mental health, have an idea, are service user or a carer and would like to get involved, then please contact Maria Abson on 01443 846200 or e-mail:

Together for Mental Health a Success! Interlink held its AGM at Soar Chapel, Penygraig on the 27 November 2013. Interlink had a highly successful conference on Mental Wellbeing involving a wide range of voluntary groups, service users and other partners.

As a result of the Conference:

• 96% of people told us they were more informed about mental health • 96% of people told us they were more aware of the benefits of working together and coproduction • 92% of people told us they had increased their networks • 88% of people reported they were more confident about working with others to develop new projects and services • 80% had more knowledge about involving service users

Some of the things you asked us to do?

• Work together more, working with service users and following a coproduction approach • Keep people informed about the Steps Model (see below!) • Provide members with access to information • Arrange a networking event for all agencies involved in delivering Together for Mental Health • Increase fight against stigma • More involvement of carers • Have a database of services and members • Encourage organisations to use technology more • Provide slides and presentations We are working with people and partners on all of the above – if you want to be involved – please get in touch, we need everyone’s help!

The Glasgow STEPS Model for Cwm Taf A workshop facilitated with members around the potential for a STEPS approach to mental health services in Cwm Taf. This would look to provide a range of opportunities for people to improve their mental wellbeing and reduce stress and anxiety. This would provide an alternative to GP’s only having an option to prescribe medication, with Cwm Taf having the second highest rates in the UK – and guess what? these drugs are expensive. The Steps Model looks to promote accessible wellbeing courses, such as mindfulness, in the community. The study has now been completed and the recommendations are being considered by the University Health Board.

For a copy of the study contact Maria Abson on 01443 846200 or Page 13

Mental Health The Stigma Shout survey carried out by Time to

You can help by creating a society where mental health problems are not hidden in shame and secrecy. You can be sympathetic and ensure your friend or relative is not afraid to speak out about their mental health.

Change showed that almost nine out of ten people with mental health problems (87%) reported the negative impact of stigma and discrimination on their lives. The research also showed that the way family, friends, neighbours and colleagues behave can have a big impact on the lives of people with mental health problems. If you would like to become involved with Time to Change please contact 020 8215 2356 or e-mail:

Mental Health Service User Involvement At the Interlink AGM and conference on Mental Health in November, you said we should help: Enhance collaboration / coproduction opportunities – this means getting everybody to work together using the knowledge and skills of people who use services. As part of the Involve – the Mental Health Involvement Project - we have been working with people to: • Interview and recruit five amazing local representatives to the Cwm Taf Mental Health Partnership Board to strengthen the voice of local people at a local and strategic level • Develop exciting training opportunities like Inform - recruitment training for service users and carers mental health awareness training aimed at staff working in primary care • Produce a new look service user newsletter on all the new mental health involvement opportunities We will be working with individuals and local groups to: • Develop mental health awareness training for individuals and groups • Plan a Cwm Taf wide engagement event for people to feedback experiences and stories of local mental health services • Improve access to information on local mental health services and using social media to increase awareness • Evaluate the Involve Project • Recognise all the hard work service users put in through a time banking model • Support representatives on the Mental Health Partnership Board to work with the Partnership Board Page 14

For more information contact Rachel Wyatt on 01443 846200 or

Our local Mental Health Support Website provides loads of information on mental health issues as well as raising awareness and challenging stigma. If you would like mental health information, advice and helpful contacts in Cwm Taf, you can access the Mental Health Support Directory on

Interlink Review

Interlink Review – Transforming what we do for you! Thank you everyone who took part in the review of Interlink’s service – we learnt so much from all the responses we have had from members, networks, partners, trustees and staff. What do you value most? You told us that support and advice that is accessible and friendly was the most important service, followed by volunteering, networking and information and bulletins. How would you rate interlink? The highest score was for 100%, the 2nd for 95% and the 3rd for 90% - thank you. We had two people who scored us 50% and one 10% :( What would make us 100% successful? • Quite a bit on training, more bespoke, more mentoring and leadership, promoting the training from members • More support on evaluation • More community and less Council • More proactive in the community • Better promotion of the sector • Meaningful engagement and representation of the Sector Working Together - an update on Regional Working with VAMT and Interlink The first regional joint meeting of the Boards of Interlink and VAMT took place on Thursday 13 March to discuss working across Cwm Taf. The Boards agreed to work towards developing a regional plan and a memorandum of understanding. This involves identifying shared priorities and exploring those areas where we can be innovative in working together to address gaps in our current services. If Interlink did not exist, what would be the impact? • My organisation wouldn’t exist • It would be terrible as they have a real impact • We wouldn’t know where to turn for help • Partnership working would be lost • Networking would be lost • Access to clear information would be lost • Lack of information on the benefits of volunteering • Lack of volunteering opportunities • Harder to know about community projects • Loss of specialist knowledge

‘Support to voluntary organisations whatever the size of the organisation but particularly small voluntary groups.’ Key Messages for us to work on: • Interlink has to be led by the people we serve the service user / volunteer / community group/ member • We must be embedded within communities provide greater support at the grass roots for peer support, mentoring, social interaction, street ambassadors • We need greater connectivity - people working together and learning from each other given the information and knowledge they require • Superglue - we need to continue to provide free and accessible help in the community, providing up to date information and bringing people together • Promoting what YOU do - the impact of service users, volunteers and community groups in making RCT such an amazing place • Access to Expertise - help people get better access to specialised and expert advice and guidance • YOUR VOICE - independent voice, make sure people and communities are involved and working with partners to make a difference to communities. A huge thanks to all those who got involved, we learnt an incredible amount, and are now busy looking at how everyone involved in Interlink can work together to make it happen. ‘Using outreach facilities where available to provide more accessible support to voluntary sector organisations closer to their communities.’ For more information contact Simon James on 01443 846200 or e-mail: Page 15

Broaden your horizons ..... with Interlink training Introducing our Master Class Series

Dealing with Challenging Behaviour 12 May 2014 9.30am - 12.30pm

A short series of training courses aimed to have a high impact and follow-up support.

Mental Health First Aid

Employment Law Training

16 and 21 May 2014 9.30am - 4.30pm

15 May 2014 9.00am - 12.00pm Rhondda Heritage Park Hotel

Marketing (Adult Learners) 19 June 2014 9.30am - 12.30pm

Managing your Organisation Exceptional Committees 27 May 2014 9.00am - 12.30pm

Market Research 26 June 2014 9.30am - 12.30pm

Excellent Employee Involvement 5 June 2014 9.00am - 12.30pm

Health and Safety 27 June 2014 9.15am - 3.00pm

First Class Funding Strategies (Adult Learners) 17 June 2014 9.00am - 12.30pm

Community Development Level 2 9, 16, 23 September 2014 9.30am - 3.30pm

Safeguarding Children and Young People 11 September 2014 9.30am - 12.30pm

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults 11 September 2014 2.00pm - 4.30pm

Practice Exchange Group: Young People’s Participation 9 July 2014 10.00am - 12.00pm

Taking Co-Productive Practice to the Next Level: 16 July 2014 10.00am - 4.00pm

Interlink Meeting and Conference Rooms for hire We offer a range of meeting and conference facilities, whether your requirements are for a training venue, conferences, small meetings or one to one meetings. All room hire charges are inclusive of: Laptop Projection Screen Flip Chart

Projector Internet Connection Dry Wipe Board

Refreshments are available on request for a small charge. We can advise on local caterers.

Charity No 1141143 Company No 07549533

Next Issue: August 2014