31 Jan 2013

A cancer charity, a group helping the elderly get more involved in the community and an organisation helping fathers improve their relationships with their children were among the winners at our prestigious awards ceremony.

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Macmillan Cancer Research in Wales scooped the Most Admired Organisation award.

Organised by ourselves and supported by voluntary sector services specialist Class Telecommunications, the Third Sector Awards Cymru - hosted by BBC Wales presenter Jason Mohammad - took place at the Radisson Blu hotel in Cardiff on 31 January.

The groups were shortlisted in the following six categories:

• Class Award for Best Communications - for effective or innovative ways of communicating with members, service users or volunteers.

• Green Award - for innovative policy on reducing carbon footprint or raising awareness of climate change with service users

• Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Award - for helping people to be happier and healthier through intervention/preventative work, maintaining independent living, or self-care

• Award for Good Governance - to reward the exemplar work of trustee boards

• Award for Innovative Fundraising - for exceptional and creative achievement

• Most Admired Organisation - for organisations admired most for the causes they represent and work they do

Jonathan Levy, Chief Operating Officer with Class Telecommunications, said: 'Class is proud to support the Third Sector Awards Cymru for the fifth consecutive year.  Every year the Welsh third sector continues to impress with its hard work and determination to make a difference to lives across the country.

'These awards are a way to give something back to the groups that make an often unheralded, but very real, positive impact on our communities.'

WCVA Chief Executive Graham Benfield OBE said: 'While the recession is hitting the third sector particularly hard, these organisations have proved that they are not allowing financial uncertainties to hinder their excellent work,' he added. 

'The Third Sector Awards Cymru performs the important task of highlighting the achievements of these outstanding groups.'

Third Sector Awards Cymru 2012
Class Award for Best Communications
Winner - Plant Dewi

Plant Dewi DadVenture in Pennar, Pembroke Dock runs dads' groups which target hard to reach and vulnerable fathers with the aim of improving their interpersonal skills and self-esteem, encouraging them to spend more quality time with their children and establishing support networks between fathers.

With 'many challenges' to engaging the men including frequent changes of addresses and mobile phones and an innate wariness of professionals, it was decided to set up a Facebook page to disseminate information.

This resulted in fathers engaging with the service on their own terms, feeling part of a group and being happy to share information about themselves that they usually would not.

'Facebook interaction is less challenging to participants who lack confidence and have poor interpersonal skills and enables them to articulate their views, thoughts and feelings without the inhibitions that can often occur using conventional means of contact,' said nominator Peter Arnold, Senior Project Manager with Pennar Flying Start Centre.

Runners-up - Macmillan Cancer Support and Age Cymru

• A campaign launched last spring by Macmillan Cancer Support has led to changes in Welsh Government policy that will lead to major improvements for people affected by cancer in Wales.

The charity's Counting the Cost of Cancer campaign was the result of the first comprehensive report into cancer poverty in Wales, looking in detail at each local authority to produce a document on the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis, focussing on the increase in expenses incurred and the loss of income.

The initiative included the production of a film, press releases, Facebook and Twitter, a touring 'advan' and a Cardiff conference attended by the First Minister, the Minister for Health, health professionals, AMs and people affected by cancer.  The campaign secured extensive media coverage and was debated by the Welsh Government, which soon afterwards launched its Cancer Delivery Plan.

'The strategy accepted our calls that the clinical and non-clinical needs of all cancer patients in Wales will be assessed at point of diagnosis and formally recorded in a care plan,' said Macmillan External Affairs Manager Gwenllian Griffiths.

 'These assessments will routinely include signposting to financial advice, information, support and welfare benefits advice. The Counting the Cost report was mentioned in the Strategy and it highlighted the work carried out by Macmillan in Wales.'

• Age Cymru's Communications and Marketing team communicates with its audiences through many different platforms, including a quarterly newsletter distributed to 5,000 contacts across Wales, a website receiving 8,500 visitors a month, and an 'agony' column for over-50s in the South Wales Echo which generates an average 100 calls a month to a free telephone advice line.

The charity has uploaded 17 films onto its YouTube channel with content including advice on keeping warm, well and safe during the winter; money guru Paul Lewis giving advice on making a will; and support in dealing with debt.

The website is promoted in a fortnightly email newsletter received by hundreds of subscribers.  Age Cymru also has a successful social media presence - a Facebook page with 610 likes and a Twitter account with 3,707 followers.

'Age Cymru's publication schedule this year has also included a manifesto for candidates in the local government elections, information packs on preventing falls for older people and a range of materials to promote our Let's Talk Money campaign to encourage older people to claim all the state benefits they are entitled to receive,' said Communications Officer Iwan Rhys Roberts.

Green award
Winner - RSPCA Llys Nini

RSPCA Llys Nini in Penllergaer began recycling in 2001, initially handling newspapers and textiles such as blankets for animal bedding and developing into a commercial initiative selling quality recycled goods through seven retail outlets.

Income has grown considerably, and Llys Nini now recycles ceramic, electrical and metal goods and plastics, while old animal bedding is reused as industrial rags.  

'If Llys Nini had not started to trade in recyclables, it would probably have closed due to lack of funds in 2002,' said Chair of Trustees Sally Hyman.  'The profits are ploughed back into the charity.  In 2011, we rescued nearly 800 animals, helped over 500 other animals, handled nearly 1,000 wildlife injuries and managed the 78-acre site for biodiversity.'

Runners-up - Cardiff YMCA Housing Association and Llangattock Green Valleys 

• A recycling project run by Cardiff YMCA Housing Association is not only responding to the link between man-made fabrics that don't decompose and climate change, but also offering training and work opportunities to the long-term unemployed.

The PreFab Clothing scheme has collected over nine tons of reusable items that were destined for landfill, processing them at its recycling unit and selling them on at low cost in the PreFab clothing shop.

'Unusable textiles are not sent to landfill sites, eliminating the production of toxins,' said the Association's Finance and Development Officer, Mandy Smithson.  'We know that some fibres can produce methane gas as they decay, contributing to global warming. That is why every kilogram of textiles that the project recycles saves the equivalent of 3 kilograms of CO2.

'Materials and any proceeds from the collections are directly reinvested into projects and services for homeless people at Cardiff YMCA Housing Association. In addition to showcasing partnership working, the PreFab Project clearly shows its dedication to reducing our organisational carbon footprint.'

• Llangattock Green Valleys  was set up in 2009 in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and energy use.  Winning around £350,000 in two environmental competitions allowed the group to invest in microhydro schemes, as well as helping householders with the installation of more energy-efficient boilers, solar pvs and other measures, with the aim of reducing energy consumption as a community.

Through Green Valleys' website, residents can record their energy consumption each month and are advised how to reduce it - an initiative the group hopes to take into other local communities.  The goal is for the village to become carbon negative - something it is on target to achieve by 2015.

'We believe we have a simple tool that many communities would like to access to help them reduce energy consumption for the benefit of the planet, but also to benefit individuals personally, financially and otherwise,' said Company Secretary Jackie Charlton.

Health, social care and wellbeing award
Winner - Contact the Elderly

A charity supporting more than 450 of 'the oldest old' people across Wales, the aim of Contact the Elderly is to reduce the acute loneliness and isolation of those who live alone with little or no contact with the outside world.

The organisation arranges volunteer hosts and drivers to collect people and take them to monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties where they are welcomed into 'a warm environment for tea, chat and friendship', said Chairman Duncan John Lloyd Fitzwilliams.

'The majority of the people fall into the category of the oldest old,' he added.  'Over half are aged 80, while a quarter are in their nineties.  Lives are transformed by bringing friendship, laughter, a sense of wellbeing and involvement in the local community back into their lives.'

Runners-up - Theatre versus Opporession, The Hoticulture Learning Zone and Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure

• Theatre Versus Oppression - which runs projects to address social issues - holds workshops in prisons, women's refuges and youth detention centres with people directly and indirectly affected by domestic abuse.

The workshops feature plays where the actors act out situations relevant to the participants, allowing them to see their behaviour as other people see it, and to identify the triggers.  Prisoners are reported to have become less aggressive and more communicative, with several of the women having set up a self-help group. 

'People leave the workshops having looked at themselves and the triggers to their behaviour,' said nominator, volunteer Suzanne Phillips.  'They also have a feeling of hope, which in turn leads to a feeling of wellbeing and change of attitude with the potential for moving on.'

• The Horticulture Learning Zone at Fedw Hir Eco Centre, Aberdare, has 17 volunteers, including teenagers on work placements, adults with learning difficulties and one young man in a wheelchair who cultivate vegetables, herbs and bedding plants, which are sold at Merthyr's monthly farmers' market.

'Most of the volunteers are long-term unemployed,' said Groundwork Trust Merthyr and RCT Horticulture Officer Lewis Phillips.  'They have often slipped through the education system and suffered the social and economic deprivations that that situation engenders.'

The discipline and structure of the group had given them confidence, self-esteem and qualifications and won them awards.  'To witness fragile adults being transformed through encouragement and respect is quite humbling and greatly rewarding,' Lewis Phillips added.

• After Gwynedd Council decided the pool was uneconomic to maintain, the residents campaigned to get it transferred to the local community and formed Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure.

With grants from the National Lottery and Welsh Assembly Government, the group also built a state-of-the-art climbing wall, bouldering wall and cafeteria, as well as modernising the facilities to provide disabled access and changing rooms.

The closure of the pool would have meant children having to travel at least 20 miles for swimming lessons.  The successful campaign has also safeguarded the jobs of existing staff members and allowed the employment of several new staff members, including previously unemployed young people in the 18-24 age category. 

'We have ensured the future of a much loved local facility in a rural area which suffers from social deprivation,' said Director Anwen Barry.  'The new cafeteria has become a community hub and I think that providing maintaining and improving a range of sporting and social facilities in such a rural area has indeed led to an improvement in the quality of the lives of local people.'

Award for innovative fundraising
Winner - Ashfield Community Enterprise (ACE)

Ashfield Community Enterprise (ACE) was set up as a Community Land Trust to save a 7.5 acre horticultural site in Howey, Llandrindod Wells which was about to be sold on the open market. It had previously provided employment and training for people with disabilities but had fallen into disrepair and disuse.

The Trustees mounted a campaign to rescue the site to provide activities where the local community could learn skills, start a business, grow food, meet people and be equally valued regardless of their ability or disability.

With the help of a £450,000 Big Lottery Fund grant, ACE purchased the land and refurbished accompanying horticultural buildings, an office, training buildings and a six-bedroom house which it converted into two flats - making it the first community land trust in Wales to deliver affordable housing.

The Trust has since raised over £30,000 from its share issue and is now self-financing, using volunteer and paid labour, generating a modest income through training, rental of growing and other spaces at the site, sales of produce and rental income from the flats.

Runners-up - DangerPoint and YogaMobility

• DangerPoint is an award-winning interactive centre providing hands-on safety, health, well being and citizenship education for children and young people in North Wales.

The initiative has educated more than 45,000 children and young people at the centre, as well as over 15,000 young people through outreach work such as a safe driving project.

A registered charity developed by a range of organisations including North Wales Police, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and oil and gas company BHP Billiton, it is unique in Wales - there are only 10 such centres in the UK wide - and is the first to also open to the public to raise funds.

The Danger Detective Quest (DDQ) is a project offering visitors the opportunity to explore the centre using a booklet to guide them around lifelike scenarios, detecting dangers they could face every day and learning how they can stay safe.  This has resulted in DangerPoint now having a turnover of £3,000 in its first season.

• Cardiff-based YogaMobility, which provides specialist yoga classes to 75 disabled students, has led to the creation of an unexpectedly successful band of musicians that now gives it a healthy income.


When students, supporters and volunteers realised that many of them had musical talents they set up a 12-piece band - now known as the Funky Love Posse - which quickly developed a following and last year supported Charlotte Church at the Paralympics Opening event in Cardiff.

As well as the benefits for the self-esteem of the disabled musicians, the band donates its £500 gig fee to YogaMobility, giving the charity an income in excess of £2,500 per year in vital unrestricted funds.

'At a time when public donations are drying up and grant funding is harder to obtain, it is no exaggeration to say that the contribution made by the Funky Love Posse has allowed us to continue to develop the charity,' said Tim Watkins, Director of health and wellbeing social enterprise Life Surfing CIC.

Award for good governance
Winner - First Choice Housing Association

First Choice Housing Association is the only one in Wales solely providing homes for adults with a learning disability.  Two years ago, it undertook a comprehensive governance review to assess performance and recommend improvements.

The Board recognised the need to be more strategic in planning and decision making and has introduced initiatives including a board members' handbook, annual members' appraisals and training to enhance and hone their skills.

Members attend tenant participation events to understand the challenges in providing services to tenants and to strengthen relationships with them, and the chair and vice chair hold a quarterly open forum with all staff.

'The governance review has resulted in a committed, informed, cohesive board with the appropriate skills and competencies to lead First Choice with excellent relationships with the whole staff team,' said Chief Executive Hilary Ryan.


Runners-up - South Wales Miners' Museum and The Hill Community Development Trust

• South Wales Miners' Museum in Afan Forest Park, Port Talbot was established in 1972 to educate visitors about the social heritage of Wales's coalfields through the exhibition of machinery, equipment, buildings, literature, photographs and inventions of historical interest.

The trustees and committee have invested time and effort in making it a forward looking organisation - planning strategic, short and long-term goals, and training both employees and trustees.  

The museum had previously relied on grants and fundraising, but has changed its methods to increase income, embracing social media and online sales as a means to reach a wider audience.

• Roy Phelps took over as Chair of Swansea's Hill Community Development Trust - set up as part of a pilot European Structural Programme to tackle socio-economic problems - in the Townhill ward, ranked as the most deprived in Wales, following the sudden death of his predecessor in 2001.

The facility, including business units, all-weather sports pitch, library, conference rooms, children's nursery and playground and café, was 'set free of local authority control without any management and financial systems of its own in place' - which all changed when Roy took up his role.

'As grants have become harder to come by, the levels of income we generate ourselves have risen from around £70k a number of years back to over £250k in the last few years,' said Chief Executive Mike Durke.

'Roy and his board are the inspirational motivators of good governance, which
ensured we have survived and grown stronger.  At a time of such uncertainty they stand as an example of best practice.  Their voluntary commitment is truly outstanding.'

Most admired organisation
Winner - Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales
Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales was nominated by Graham Waring, from Bridgend, who was 51 and working as a catering manager on an off-shore oil installation when diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009.
The diagnosis changed his family's finances overnight.  Mr Waring was laid off as soon as he told his employers and suddenly had no income, but still had to pay bills and expenses such as travel to hospital and new clothing due to weight loss.

'I felt that while the medical aspects of cancer were well explained to me, there was very little advice and support available about practical matters such as finances,' he said. 

Through Macmillan, Mr Waring has attended courses helping him to speak confidently to others about cancer story.  'Macmillan has given me the confidence to get my life back on track, and although I still struggle with finances due to travel and other obstacles, the organisation has been a great help to me,' he added.

Runners-up - Ely Garden Villagers and Ieuan the Lion Memorial Fund

• Cardiff's Ely Garden Villagers, run by local couple Lynda and Peter Sullivan, has been credited with turning around 'a once troubled community' which was seen by many as an impoverished part of the city and often cited by the media 'for all the wrong reasons', said nominator Sandi Morgan.

'From football teams to litter picking and not forgetting the annual celebrations of the "Elylimpics" and bonfire night, the forgotten heroes of our community work tirelessly without ever asking or expecting thanks,' Sandi added.

Although having busy personal lives, Lynda and Peter strived to help and assist others 'in any capacity they can, often fitting in unexpected problems at the expense of their own and strive to brighten the community in anyway possible'.

The couple's focus, dedication and determination had helped a community that felt 'isolated, abandoned and categorised into feeling unworthy and troublesome into truly believing in themselves and to take pride and consideration of their surroundings and those around them'.

• The Ieuan the Lion Memorial Fund raised £45,000 towards a fully disabled-adapted luxury holiday home in Kiln Park, Tenby, to offer breaks from the stress of diagnosis, treatment and care.

Ieuan died in 2007 after being diagnosed with a rare immune deficiency.  His parents, Rose and Wayne Yendle, set up the memorial fund to give children and their families 'a reason to smile and a chance to create precious memories.

'The charity's beginnings illustrate what can be achieved by pure determination to give others a supporting hand in such unbearable circumstances,' said nominator Shirley Valentino.

For more information please contact Lynne Reynolds on 029 2043 1718, Dave Cook on 029 2043 1710 or Jackie Huybs on 07814 070239.  WCVA website www.wcva.org.uk