Cwmafan Family Fun Day

Today we were at Cwmafan near Port Talbot giving families ideas for fun camera activities to do in the school holidays. A treasure hunt was all it took for our families to find their feet with the camera. Part of sharing the fun means exploring together and seeing what’s on your doorstep. We found unicorns, apples, boulders, and meadows. We talked about how a treasure hunt can be adapted for the beach and taken up a mountain. Most importantly though, we enjoyed the sunshine. From our youngest photographer (five years old) up to the most senior great grandmother, we made sure that everyone had their chance to shine.

We’ll be spending Tuesdays in August doing something similar at Blaenymaes in Swansea. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer will bring!


Making Headway

Headway is a nationwide charity supporting those with brain injury and today we were fortunate enough to be working with a small group of people affiliated with this wonderful charity. The Swansea branch of Headway is a small but determined group of hardy individuals who are taking life in their stride. Surviving after illness or incident which has caused a brain injury is not an easy prospect. Recovery can be slow and frustrating but with the right help it can also be rewarding too. Headway Swansea recognises the challenges, as well as the need for support, so they aim to provide new and interesting activities for those who are trying to make their own headway in life after brain injury.

The activities we provided today were designed to build confidence and help our participants enjoy seeing their world in new and interesting ways. We were at Tircoed Forest Village, a leafy community on the edge of Swansea, so we instantly felt a sense of well-being and calmness. Toss in a huge dollop of sunshine and we couldn’t fail. Headway Swansea is aiming to use some of the photographs created by participants for the charity’s calendar for next year. It is really exciting to see our Headway participants striving for excellence so that the charity can be represented in the best possible way.

I can’t wait to have the chance to work with Headway again if today’s participants are anything to go by. We laughed and smiled our way through a sunny July afternoon with the only negative being that it was over far too soon!


Grand Designs for Mayhill

Today we brought our Shining a Light on You series of workshops to a close with a look at how the community can come together to improve itself. All communities are a combination of co-operation, support, communication, and collective responsibility which has to come from within its boundaries. Already the Mayhill area has pockets of communities working to maintain the area. The Jewish Cemetery is well maintained, the Washing Pond group are pro-active in getting a community garden up and running, Bryn-y-Don group have worked hard at creating a wonderful park with an amazing star-path, and the NHS are working in collaboration with Swansea Council to bring a new family centre and GP surgery to the area.

With so much going on it makes you wonder why Mayhill is still considered as a neglected part of the city, perhaps this is because there is still so much that can be done. Our Shining the Light on You group have a grand plan for some of the unused green spaces as well as redevelopment of the Old Boys Club at the top of Baptist Well Place. The idea for our course came from the community itself and over the course we have helped participants realize the skills they have to make their vision a reality.

We’ll be keeping in touch with our participants and watching as they make waves in their community. I can’t wait to see their grand designs get transformed into reality.

What makes you special?

Shining the Light on You is all about quality participants who are trying to make a difference to their own community. What this group lack in size they make up for in determination and ambition.

Today we asked everyone what their skill set is and how they can contribute to the community. Everyone has skills but sometimes it takes sharing your ideas with a group to realise what they are. Between just three people we found a film specialist, painter, student liaison specialist, crafts and community workshop facilitator, communications specialist, hairdressing and beauty specialist, portfolio and presentations expert, graffiti expert, visual design and arts specialist, industrial hygiene specialist, public relations expert, cake maker, ideas and motivational specialist, community historian, disability and older people’s champion, bar and hospitality specialist, radiographer*, planner, realist, people management specialist, transport and logistics facilitator, holistic therapist, recruitment specialist, trainer, manager, writer, community expert, self-employment business expert.

So how do you show any of this in a photograph? With three very strong and competent ladies, how can we convince the world that their diverse portfolio of skills is what the world needs? And how can this group use their skills to make the Old Boys Club in Mayhill a working community resource again? Well they have the plans, the skills, the commitment, and the know-how to make their dreams a reality. Shining the Light on You is all about empowering our determined group to get themselves ready to push forward and realise their ambitions. With this skill set the world won’t know what’s hit them!

*we’re not sure whether being a radiographer is useful but it was definitely a surprising addition to the skills portfolio!

A Group on a Mission!

Shining the Light on You is a course with a difference in that we’re really exploring a sense of community and how we can spread that feeling to benefit everyone. Today we’re shining the light on the Old Swansea Boys Club in Mayhill. It has been derelict for a while but our participants are on a mission to breathe new life into this iconic building.

This course is only the beginning of a long adventure that our group are undertaking. Our aim is to give our community the tools to take this building out of its current state and into a long and happy future. Empowerment isn’t something that can be taught or learned, it has to come from within. The future of this building needs to start and end with the community if it is to have longevity in how it benefits the people of Swansea.

The Old Swansea Boys Club is perched on the edge of a cliff and has views for 40 miles in every direction. From here you can see well into the mountains and across the bay. It’s an amazing location and has so much potential for tourism and culture as well as for day-to-day community use. We imagined ourselves sat outside sipping coffee on a terrace whilst the younger generation fulfill their potential inside. We considered all the creative arts that could potentially take place here. We imagined how that this building could shine out as a cultural beacon across the city; a champion of resourcefulness in the face of adversity. Just a few choice backers would be all it takes to make their vision a reality and put this Swansea icon back into public use again.

Confident Croeserw

We returned to one of our favourite mountain-top locations today for the start of a new Confidence through the Camera workshop at Croeserw. Here we’re looking at all sorts of things that make this part of the Afan valley awesome.

Our participants said they had very little experience with the camera but this really doesn’t show. The attention to detail in their photographs is really well done for these naturally talented beginners. We looked at themes of nature, textures, transport, and people; as well as considering things that made us happy.

Getting more confident means not dwelling on the negatives. Sometimes dwelling on positives can help to restore a happy balance in your soul. Also biscuits. Biscuits have the same restorative effect! More mountain adventures next week when we’ll be looking deeper into the local landscape.

Shining the Light on Mayhill

Today we started a unique project in Mayhill called Shining the Light on You. Here we’re taking people who are already awesome and seeing how they can become community champions in the Mayhill area. We’ll be meeting up on Mondays and Thursdays and seeing what is great about Mayhill, what can be improved, and how our participants can work together to improve it. We’ll be focusing on empowering all our participants the skills they need and ensuring that long after we’ve gone, they continue to work together to make this lovely area of Swansea even lovelier.

Today we looked at getting familiar with the cameras and working on particular themes. Textures, patterns, people, buildings, shopping, transport, and the natural world all feature heavily in Mayhill. Here’s a selection of what our participants discovered today.