Canolfan Maerdy is the Anchor Organisation for the Upper Amman Valley and provides a multifunction community hub, with excellent services, meeting the needs of the community as part of a collaborative effort to regenerate our once vibrant local economy. Its work is focused on the Upper Amman Valley with links and engagement into Carmarthenshire and the Upper Swansea Valley as appropriate.
Canolfan Maerdy has a skilled and committed Board of Trustees, employs 22 staff, supported by the work of over 30 committed volunteers to deliver services.
Canolfan Maerdy came into being in 2009 as the successor to Amman Valley Enterprise, which had been active in the community for the preceding 20 years.
Canolfan Maerdy as a community focused and led organisation and has long been a pathfinder organisation, identifying new needs in the community and developing services, often with others, to meet those needs. A prime example of such a service would be general interest, adult learning courses and clubs now often provided free by volunteers at the library or at very subsidised rates by Carmarthenshire at the Black Mountain and Glanamman Centres.
The focus is on working in a complimentary manner with other organisations and agencies, identifying any gaps in services and facilitating development to meet needs as they become apparent.
All people in the community have the support and services they need to raise their aspiration, enable personal development to reach their potential and enjoy a sense of wellbeing, leading to positive social change.
To be a centre for the community to work, learn, socialise and receive the services they need.
The Community We Serve:
Canolfan Maerdy is located in Tairgwaith and serves the area at the North Western boundary of Neath Port Talbot. Due to proximity to the County Boundary some participation comes from the neighbouring communities in Carmarthenshire. The communities of the Upper Amman and Twrch Valleys consist of a series of linked, villages. These remain strongly Welsh speaking and are characterized by a strong coal mining and farming heritage.
The wider catchment area for Canolfan Maerdy extends across an area of 8246 Hectares including several villages within 6 electoral wards and 4 community councils. There are over 12,500 people living in some 5,500 households.
Young people (11 to 24 years) make up around 18% of the total population and there are a number of families with young children under 4 at around 4% of the total. Whilst there is variation across the wards; overall some 17% of the population is over 65 with 16% describing themselves as retired. High levels of unemployment with inactivity (19% in those communities closest to the Centre) have been identified in a Joseph Roundtree Foundation Report as one of the main factors that drives low household income and therefore poverty. This is often linked, as it is in this area, to low levels of qualification (29% of over 16’s have no qualifications) and low levels of good health (11% long-term sick or disabled). The communities involved are considered amongst the more deprived in both Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire.
There has been decreasing availability of public funds for provision of community services that are not a statutory requirement. Unitary Authorities are increasingly having to transfer non-essential capital assets linked to community service provision over to be run by voluntary community groups. This places more pressure on sources of funding, as these organisations have to compete for the available resources. Whilst there is work within the public sector at the present time to reverse the process, since 2010 there was increasing centralisation of local services, which has had a severe impact on our area.
Outlying, rural communities such as those around Tairgwaith, Gwaun Cae Gurwen, Cwmgors and Lower Brynamman are not seen to be able to generate sufficient levels of footfall or general participation to support conventional methods of community located services at a time of scarce resources. This is a particular issue for privately run essential services such as transport and retail activity.
The lack of services in the local area, alongside reduction in essential transport links and low levels of car access promotes feelings of isolation, bringing associated problems for community cohesion. Many local people find the existing transport opportunities limited (due to lack of availability at times required) and taxis too expensive for regular use. Limited local employment opportunities, combined with the lack of transport to access work mean a low average local income. All of this limits the opportunities available, particularly for the youth and older people to access services, develop careers, or participate in learning, leisure or developmental activities.
The Centre & Facilities:
The Centre utilises the old Steer Pit Offices at New Road, Tairgwaith. These were extensively refurbished with European and Welsh Government Funds during the early part of this Century by Amman Valley Enterprise, however, there has been no further significant work undertaken since that time.
The centre is organised in two wings. At the rear is a purpose-built childcare facility with 3 main childcare rooms, a small office, toilet facilities including the buildings disabled toilet and a separate secure entrance (with disabled access ramp) with fingerprint entry system. There is a secure outside play area accessible from the childcare wing and main building, including a small raised herb garden, Summer House and covered play area. This is separated from the main wing with fire standard doors secured by a combination lock.
At the front is the main wing, it houses the main entrance with a spacious reception area, 7 rooms, storage areas, café with open catering kitchen and toilets (which are open for public use). Of the 7 rooms, 2 are in use as office space, 2 used by the Food Hub, 1 was a computer training suite but is now mostly used as a meeting room, 1 small room is available for one-to-one advice, interview or family contact sessions and 1 large room has a combination lock secure door into the childcare wing and is available for After School Club, Nursery overspill and Youth Club activities. Additional storage is available for Food Hub supplies adjacent to the building.
The Centre also has two 7-seater cars used by Lots of Tots for school pickups and general child transport.