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Connecting communities in Wales with Fun Palaces

A group of children and adults exploring the North Wales landscape as part of Y Prosiect Hinsawdd
Members of Y Prosiect Hinsawdd exploring the North Wales landscape | © Fun Palaces/Bethan Page

As part of our Fun Palaces partnership, we’re testing new approaches to working with local communities in Wales. By co-creating community events, engaging with young people, celebrating skills, and working with partners, we’re connecting people to the work we do and helping them to not only feel welcome at our places, but part of everything we do.

Who are Fun Palaces?

Fun Palaces campaigns year-round for everyone to have a say in what counts as culture, where it happens, who makes it, and who experiences it. They place community at the heart of culture, and culture at the heart of every community.

They support volunteers, grassroots communities, new and established organisations, and practitioners across the UK (and beyond) to make Fun Palaces – free, local events that use arts and science as a catalyst to celebrate each unique community, and the skills and interest of those who live there.

Their mission is to strengthen communities by empowering individuals, supporting partnerships, and challenging the way arts and science are currently owned and created. You can find out more about Fun Palaces here.

Our Fun Palaces Ambassador

The National Lottery Community Fund supports 11 Fun Palaces Ambassadors to work with partner organisations across the UK. They help people to co-create their own cultural and community events, and to share their learning with other UK partner organisations.

Bethan Page is Fun Palaces Ambassador for National Trust Cymru and she has been working with local communities in North Wales for three years to empower and support individuals and groups, and with partners to recognise the value of cultural participation as an essential part of a healthy society.

Connecting with communities

As an organisation that plays an active role in the Welsh cultural landscape, our ambition is to make everyone feel not only welcome, but an important part of everything we do. To achieve this, we need to actively reach out to our local communities.

Our partnership with Fun Palaces supports our ‘for everyone, for ever’ strategy by providing us with an opportunity to test new and different approaches to working with local communities and partners. It has the exciting potential of making more people feel an increased sense of belonging and connection, whilst helping us to play our part in creating a fair and equal society.

Y Prosiect Hinsawdd (The Climate Project)

One outcome of our Fun Palaces partnership has been Y Prosiect Hinsawdd (The Climate Project), set up by Bethan, Fun Palaces Ambassador, to engage young people with climate-related discussions and activities. It focuses on the small steps that can be taken to lessen climate anxiety and promotes the feeling of having some control over the situation.

Sessions take place once a month and involve being outdoors, visiting our sites, walking, yoga, creative activities, trips, and eating good food. Young people are given the opportunity to learn about our environmental work and to engage with staff and volunteers about the work that they do to care for our landscapes.

It’s a chance to learn and share experiences of engaging with young people, of responding to their interests and concerns, and of developing ways of supporting them to co-create their own activities and events.

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Y Prosiect Hinsawdd (The Climate Project)

Find out how our Fun Palaces partnership has helped lessen climate anxiety in young people through the creation of Y Prosiect Hinsawdd (The Climate Project).

Timeline of Y Prosiect Hinsawdd (The Climate Project)

April 2022

The projects creation

During a consultation with pupils from Ysgol Llanfyllin school, Montgomeryshire, Bethan, Fun Palaces Ambassador, found that young people wanted to be involved in arts and cultural events with friends and family in their local community - a rural area with very few opportunities for them to socialise. Parents also agreed that young people needed opportunities to be together to improve their wellbeing and mental health following the pandemic.

In response, and with a small grant from Powys Association of Voluntary Organisation’s Connected Communities Fund, Bethan set up a 6-month pilot project in which 15 Welsh speaking young people came together once a month. They had fun whilst developing creative skills and exploring ways to improve health and wellbeing such as by being outside, doing yoga, going on trips, and developing leadership skills – all with a climate theme throughout. She also explored partnership working by involving Menter Iaith Maldwyn, the Montgomeryshire Welsh Language Initiative. 

Children crowded around a plant and listening to a gardener at Powis Castle, Wales
Members of Y Prosiect Hinsawdd on a trip to Powis Castle | © Fun Palaces/Bethan Page

Our work with Fun Palaces during the pandemic

During the Covid pandemic the focus of Bethan’s work, through necessity, became hyper-local and it responded to the needs of her local community. She explored ways to connect and engage with people at a time when they couldn’t be together in person, and when loneliness and isolation were a particular issue for many people.

A key part of her work was to ensure that everyone in her community knew about opportunities to be involved in socially distanced events, projects and activities through community newspapers, local social media, and hand-delivered newsletters which publicised opportunities to connect with friends and neighbours.

Timeline of our work with Fun Palaces during the pandemic

April 2020

Community bunting project

In Penybontfawr, North Powys, members of the local community wanted to do something to say a special thank you to their village shop for their remarkable effort serving them during the lockdown. As Fun Palace Ambassador, Bethan supported them to create bunting as a surprise gift.

Over 80 people took part, from 2 to 94 years old, and every triangle in the 30 metres of paper bunting was hand-decorated and included a personal message to the staff. This project was special because of the feeling of connection it gave the community at a very difficult time, and the feeling of belonging had long-lasting effects.  Such was its success, it featured on TV in S4C’s ‘Heno’ magazine programme. 

Members of the community socially distanced outside a village shop holding a long stretch of bunting.
The Penybontfawr community presenting bunting to their local village shop | © David John Roberts
Ranger in National Trust fleece inspecting white blossom on tree in orchard

For everyone, for ever

We protect and care for places so people and nature can thrive. Find out who we are and what we stand for.

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