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Contractor volunteers its resources to help Abercynon social enterprise

Written by on 10th September 2021

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s contractor for bridge repairs in Abercynon, Walters Ltd, has volunteered to clear an acre of land for Cynon Valley Organic Adventures – allowing the social enterprise to progress its valuable community work.

The Ynysmeurig Bridge repairs in Abercynon were delivered in the summer holiday – replacing the bridge parapets and completing scour repairs and repointing work, while rebuilding sections of the wall supporting River Row.

As part of its community engagement, staff from Walters visited Cynon Valley Organic Adventures which is based near River Row. Having learned about the organisation’s local activities – using its community garden and woodland to help individuals share a passion for the environment – the company carried out significant clearance work which was needed as part of a research project.

The social enterprise is currently working with Cardiff University to explore the benefits of green ‘social prescribing’ on health and well-being. This enables healthcare professionals to refer people for nature-based activities, such as gardening, with the aim of achieving mental and physical benefits.

Janis Werrett, Director of Cynon Valley Organic Adventures, said: “Walters were fantastic with us. They went out of their way to introduce themselves before they started working on the bridge, and we showed them around and what we do – they were absolutely lovely with our volunteers.

“Three members of their staff worked on our site for three days, and took 10cm up from the top layer of the soil with an excavator and dumper, and also some flood protection work. That was in an area of around an acre, full of overgrown brambles. It has saved us months of work. They even returned to see if everything was OK with the work – we were really impressed by them.”

The work has enabled the social enterprise to progress archaeological work, as part of their research with Cardiff University and the work in the community.

“We do a lot of green-prescribed activity, with people who are prescribed to us by doctors and pharmacists – including people with learning difficulties and disengaged youths,” Janis added. “We are currently working on a green prescribing journal article with Cardiff University, to evidence the effect of nature on people’s health and well-being.

“We can examine the pollen through different events in time, recreate that, and determine how climate change has affected the pollen. As part of this research, we needed a layer of the ground removed for an archaeological dig, which will be carried out with the help of local people being referred to us.

“We’re very close with the community – we also run summer holiday clubs, and we’ve also been nominated for a National Lottery Award for our work with children during the pandemic. We’re really thankful to Walters for the help they gave us. The feedback we’ve heard from local people about the work they did throughout the summer has also been very positive.”

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways and Transportation, said: “Cynon Valley Organic Adventures undertakes invaluable work in the community, and I’m pleased that the Council’s contractor for the recent bridge works in Abercynon has been able to help with such a significant task.

“We work closely with all appointed contractors across our Highways and Transportation schemes, to inform the community of the nature of upcoming works and any likely disruption locally. It’s great to see that Walters Ltd went over and above their duties with this voluntary work, which will make a difference to the social enterprise’s research and its work in the community.”

Nick Rolfe, Regional Director (Wales) for Walters, added: “We are always pleased if we can carry out our day job without causing too much disruption to local communities. It’s better still if we can engage with the communities and if the skilled people in the civil engineering sector can offer tangible benefits at the same time. We are very proud of our staff and our involvement with this project.”