Cymru Culture

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Leanne Wood, Bae watch (September 2017)

(September 01, 2017)

Bae Watch; with Leanne Wood

Leanne Wood AC/AM

The political highlight of the summer, for me, has been something small, simple and local. Community is important to Plaid Cymru and this example shows the power of community.

Just over a year ago, shortly after winning the election to become the Assembly Member for the Rhondda, I paid a visit to our local park - Belle View Park, also known as Penygraig Park. It was a warm day and the park was teeming with children who made their feelings clear - they wanted their paddling pool reopened. They let me know in no uncertain terms how unhappy they were that it had been closed for four years. They'd had enough of looking longingly at an empty pool, imagining it full of cool water in a hot summer's day, as it was that day in late May. They even said they'd help to make it happen.

Our local community paddling pool, along with many others in Rhondda Cynon Taf, was shut down by Labour councillors as part of their cuts programme. The pool was a classic victim of austerity. Penygraig, like most communities, have lost many valued amenities in recent years because of austerity or budget cuts, yet there are small groups of dedicated community champions who want to bring some of them back.

Rhondda Plaid Cymru has decided to prioritise such activity and so our members are heavily involved in the work of the "Ffrinidau / Friends of Penygraig Park" - the group set up to reopen the pool. The Chair of the group is one of Penygraig's two new Plaid Cymru councillors, Joshua Davies who worked incredibly hard with fellow councillor John Cullwick and many other volunteers to make it all happen.

It's hard to keep kids occupied through the summer. All the organised events and activities are expensive. To see the children and their parents - and so many of them, making use of this spruced up paddling pool - for free - was a real joy. Hundreds of people made use of it in the two weeks it was open. And on the final day, when the pool mysteriously lost a lot of its water, the disappointment on the faces of the two hundred-odd hot, waiting children was too much to bear. Thankfully, volunteers were not faced with hundreds of unhappy children due to the intervention of the local fire service crew who topped up the pool with their hoses and instantly became local heroes! A better PR exercise for the fire service would have cost them a fortune. A massive thanks to you - the whole community are singing your praises.

Next year, the kids want their paddling pool open for longer. To do that we need more volunteers. Filling the rota of poolside supervisors is not easy, but the rewards for being involved are huge.

While many other aspects of our community and society are pulling apart: more people lonely, struggling on their own, mental health conditions are on the rise - getting out and doing something for the good of your community can make a real difference to your life and of course, to the lives of others. Plaid Cymru members are working in communities all over Wales. Get in touch with them and get involved.

The paddling pool reopening in Penygraig is an example of people selflessly giving their time and effort to benefit the community – for the greater good. The children who spent time in the park this summer will have beautiful memories to cherish. Young people and volunteers have new skills and potentially new career options, the teenagers "policing" their pool in the evenings to keep trouble away have a sense of responsibility that will hopefully stay with them. The introductions between people that were made will now see volunteers from the park committee offer their services to the new community-owned library when it reopens in the coming weeks. New friendships and alliances have been made. This is what community is all about. Let's do more of it!

Leanne Wood,
Leader of Plaid Cymru and Assembly Member for the Rhondda, September 2017

Also from Leanne Wood:


Bae watch; June 2017
Bae watch; March 2017

Bae watch; December 2016
Bae watch; September 2016

Bae watch; June 2016

Bae watch; March 2016

Bae watch; December 2015
Bae Watch; September 2015
Bae Watch; June 2015
Bae Watch; March 2015
Bae Watch; December 2014
Bae Watch; September 2014
Bae Watch; June 2014
Bae Watch; March 2014
Bae Watch; December 2013
Bae Watch; September 2013
Bae Watch; June 2013
Bae Watch; March 2013
Bae Watch; December 2012
Bae Watch; September 2012
Bae Watch; June 2012
Bae Watch; March 2012
Bae Watch; December 2011
Bae Watch; September 2011
Bae Watch; June 2011

Leanne Wood's contact details:

     Facebook: Leanne Wood
     Twitter: @LeanneWood

cylchgrawn Cymru Culture magazine
Published by/Cyhoeddwyd gan: Caregos Cyf., 2017

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