News

Carers Assembly Held in Cardiff Bay posted on 20 Nov 2015
A Carers Assembly was hosted by Carers Wales in the old Senedd debating chamber in Cardiff Bay today where carers at the front line shared their experiences in front of a panel of politicians and candidates from all the main political parties chaired by Roy Noble. 
Heartfelt evidence was heard from parents and carers from across Wales, including issues regarding minimal access to information, support and respite when needed. All spoke of the fight that accessing services has become and the worry of cuts and the impact that will have. 
Several themes were debated: rights and assssment, provision of information, respite care and cuts, work and finances, cooperatives and third sector. 
Hafod Morfa Copperworks wants your help posted on 17 Nov 2015
People in Swansea are invited to get involved with the Hafod Morfa Copperworks restoration project by submitting ideas for improving the current masterplan; how to restore the old Musgrave steam engine and what to do about the old canal bridge that's recently been exposed. 

VocalEyes is ensuring that everyone in Swansea can have their say and contribute ideas to this extraordinary project bringing back to life what is described as 'the greatest industrial treasure of Wales'. This site represents 250 years of innovation and change in Swansea - something for us all to be proud of.

As the restoration and renovation takes place there's never been a better time to get involved - either by offering some voluntary hours and doing some hands-on work, or by participating in the suggestion of ideas here. 

More can be seen on this project by visiting their excellent website:

http://www.hafodmorfacopperworks.com/

and be watching this informative video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpNgDYLQW7A

The site is being developed thanks to the Cu@swansea project - is a partnership between Swansea University and the City and County of Swansea which aims to breathe life back into the site of the former Hafod-Morfa Copperworks.

In 2012, the CU@Swansea Project started a programme of physical works to reclaim the site from dereliction and enable people to visit and reconnect with the site.

Works have included:

  • Consolidation of buildings most at risk including Laboratory Building and canal walls.
  • Clearing vegetation and replacing railings to open up views of the buildings
  • Creating new pathways, view points and seating areas
  • Installing interpretation trails and wind up audio trails
  • Installing new art features
  • Creating a new car park

The project also carried out a range of activities to connect with as many people as possible including the public, schools and community groups. The Hafod-Morfa Copperworks occupies an important place in the memories, histories and identities of local people and the process of reconnecting people to this important part of their history has been important and rewarding. A strong friends group has emerged, schools groups and the public have got involved in a range of activities and over 8000 people have attended events at the site.

The Cu@swansea partnership is grateful for funding of £541,000 the Welsh Government’s £19m Heritage Tourism project, administered by Cadw. This comprises £277,000 funds from the Welsh Government and a sum of £244,000 from the European Regional Development Fund.  The project subsequently secured a further £500,000 from the Welsh Government (Swansea Regeneration Area). Three Phd Students have developed their research on the site and another dozen students have leant their research skills and resources to take the project forward). 


Work continues to unlock the potential of the site and restore the function of innovation, education, entrepreneurialism, wealth creation and world leadership that the site traditionally provided. Now's your chance to get involved. 


We've gone Digital! posted on 17 Nov 2015
The TENP committee met today (including Tom Latter, in the photo) and took up the kind offer of one of our members - LocalEyes and VocalEyes Digital Democracy - to make use of this platform to enhance our decision-making and to engage with our member organisations - and their wider membership (and the public). 

Sarah Hoss at VocalEyes sat in on a meeting to show us the ropes and get us started. We used the system to capture our ideas expressed in the meeting and found ourselves using the projects function and reporting some actions. We've also set up a members' group:
https://www.vocaleyes.org/tenp-participate

-  and we've identified that the Pembrokeshire District Group:
https://www.vocaleyes.org/pembrokeshire

-would be the place for the wider membership to engage so we've added a topic in there.
If you'd like to use VocalEyes to enhance engagement in YOUR group please contact VocalEyes - office AT vocaleyes.org


Photo: BenPix Photography




Carmarthenshire Energy Event posted on 17 Nov 2015
Supporters of the Carmarthenshire Energy Group joined Ben and the team at St Peter's Hall today for a drop-in RENEW Wales Regional Event attended by about 15 interested members of the public, RENEW Wales regional co-ordinators and mentors and some several stakeholder organisations (including Helen Murray, CEO Planed) to hear and deliver speeches from key projects and learn more about the share scheme.
As part of the event VocalEyes was on hand to sign up attendees to VocalEyes and engage in the group to post ideas for promoting the share scheme better. People signing up were also inducted into their community groups and left much more aware of how self-organising and crowdsourcing works. 
11 new ideas were crowdsourced live during the event. 

Pic: NewSplashMedia 


Go Bro Gwaun! posted on 16 Nov 2015
The Bro Gwaun Fishguard Transition group has not one but TWO community projects featured in this wonderful new book showcasing brilliant ideas from across the globe that have been turned into action. The book is available for sale at the Transition Cafe in Fishguard. To read more about this:

https://cop21.transitionnetwork.org/the-surplus-food-cafe/


Viewing Arranged for the Swansea Innovation Hub project posted on 16 Nov 2015

The viewing is on Friday 20th Nov at 3pm.

Meet at Volcano Theatre on the high street.

If you are interested, there is more information on this website and an form to fill in with your details.
https://swanseainnovationhub.wordpress.com/

Dyffryn goes Digital Democracy to change their future posted on 13 Nov 2015
Dyffryn School hosted a 'Digital Democracy' event today where 25 pupils crowdsourced ideas to help improve the school and their learning experience. In that moment they became active citizens of their school changing the future forever. 

An impressive 1726 interactions were generated by learners during the event - a total of 74 ideas; 401 comments and replies to comments. In response, 3 actions were immediately agreed and 1 project added - with 11 pledges of support made to help that become a success.  

The main question was 'what would you like to learn in School that you are currently not learning?' where some fantastic ideas were well-argued and debated. Top trending idea was life skills around finance; a proposal that was immediately actioned by inviting learners to design a finance course to be offered in school. 11 pupils volunteered to become the first Dyffryn School Design Team. 

There was also great interest in learning more about politics and how government works - showing the great interest young people have in democracy. 
An admin team is now in place to escalate popular ideas with all ideas to be presented to the SLT for a response. 
Commenting about their experience, there was broad agreement that the system was easy to use and that they enjoyed voicing their ideas via this VocalEyes. 
Congratulations Dyffryn School. What a fun and efficient way of conducting a debate and sharing your wisdom from a unique perspective as learners.

It was also most heartening to see how many pupils were in favour of crowd-funding a bed for the school's famous feline. 

Learners also participated in the all-Wales country group and the emerging dialogue on the Neath Port Talbot District Group experiencing, for the first time, what it's like to be an active citizen in their community and country voicing subjects important to them and many years before they become eligible to vote experiencing democracy in action. 

Mr Martin Grimes the school's headteacher said: 'We are always looking for better ways to engage with our learners - I was really impressed with the originality and thoughtfulness of the ideas put forward and I'm looking forward to seeing many come to fruition.'



Group Team42
Our new team ready to help Swansea turn ideas into ACTION! posted on 12 Nov 2015
Presenting our Swansea district coordinators: so very pleased to welcome this fantastic group of talented business students to start an innovative project that aims to help entrepreneurship flourish in Swansea - we start local and aim to share what we learn with any district in the country. 
Ideas suggested by members of the public that are highly rated will be analysed and feasibility studies carried out by Team42 with all information shared for the benefit of the community. 
Anyone based in the Swansea Bay area who wishes to become involved can suggest ideas - and participate in rating and debating other people's via VocalEyes. With the help of Team42 many of these ideas will then be developed as business propositions or self-organising projects. And many more young people will have access to VocalEyes as a result of the team's promotional efforts. 

Pic: NewSplashMedia 



Widget colours now customisable posted on 30 Oct 2015
The function to be able to customise the look and feel of the VocalEyes widget has been a feature request for some time. We're pleased to announce this feature is going live this weekend and can be found on the Widget Settings page in Group Admin.

The settings allow you to customise text and background colours for the different sections of the widget so you can align them with the colours of your intranet or website where the widget is embedded.

VocalEyes Has Landed posted on 28 Oct 2015

After three years of successful student engagement powered by VocalEyes and championed by the Student Union VocalEyes is now being introduced to UWTSD staff to assist with the development of staff communication. Sarah Hoss, the VocalEyes trainer, delivered the initial VocalEyes training for the corporate communications team on March 25th 2015 in the Teaching and Learning Building. A refresher course has just been held today (Oct 28th 2015) and the first projects have been added to the group page for staff to sign up for if they wish. 

Eleri Beynon, Head of Corporate Communications and PR said: "This is a great way to engage with staff and to share their ideas.  We'll be reporting back in the monthly Staff Bulletin and ensuring that all ideas have an action assigned to them promptly.  We'd also like to hear from staff who would like to help'. 


Photo: NewSplashMedia

Housing --CLEAR and Present danger to Wales Housing--IWA view--! posted on 28 Oct 2015

What will the draft Wales Bill mean to, for example, a social housing tenant in Bangor? Or a homeless woman in a hostel in Cardiff?

Housing is probably the area of devolved policy where we have seen Wales and England diverge most over the last 16 years.

Not only is devolved government the settled will of the people of Wales, but a vastly different approach to housing (amongst other things) is too.

In Wales, we have had successive governments committed to investment in social housing, through Social Housing Grant, which has allowed the housing association sector to provide an average of 2,000 additional homes each year. At the same time, Welsh Government supports a ‘Help to Buy’ product which allows better access to home ownership. Across the border, UK Government pursues home ownership as the be all and end all of housing policy, with funding for social housing sacrificed for a loosely defined ‘affordable’ home ownership offer.

Devolution has meant that the housing association sector in Wales has had an opportunity to define itself very differently from our friends across the border.

The Right to Buy for housing associations and the 1% cut to social rents will have a profound impact on affordable housing as we know it in England. In Wales, there are proposals afoot to abolish Right to Buy completely, and we hope that Welsh Government won’t follow the same path on rents – a path now roundly rejected by housing providers and tenants groups.

The draft Wales Bill threatens the ability to legislate for these policy differences – voted for by the people of Wales.

Welsh Government suggests that the Housing Act, which took action on the scourge of empty homes, created new models of co-operative housing and takes action to improve the private sector, would not have been within the competence of the Assembly. This is inexplicable.

It is not a leap to suggest that the proposals in their current form take us back to the dark days of the Legislative Competence Order (LCO). Those of us schooled in the history of LCOs, or indeed housing policy, will know that this didn’t work.

The Reserved Powers model this Bill seeks to enshrine should be about simplicity and clarity. For legislators and voters.

In its present form, the Bill adds to the confusion – not only threatening to slam the brakes on the devolution journey, but threatening to halt the significant progress Wales has made as a nation in a number of areas. For housing, devolution hasn’t just allowed us to do things differently; it has allowed us to better meet the needs, and the will, of the people of Wales.

Fun Day video launch posted on 27 Oct 2015
Our first tenant voice group launched today!

https://youtu.be/mhON0fhzH74

Coastal Housing Association Goes Digital for Tenant Engagement posted on 27 Oct 2015

Tenants attending Coastal housing’s recent Tenant Fun Day recently ‘Got Digital’ as we launched our new Tenant Voice platform. We also gave away some fun prizes for all having a go – and one lucky tenant won a new android tablet device.

VocalEyes now available for Coastal’s tenants to enable them to advocate, be active and make a difference.

“VocalEyes enables any tenant to rate, debate and contribute their own ideas using digital technology that enables all tenants to have an equal voice and will help Coastal to clearly see the priorities,” said Kirsty Walton, Coastal’s Customer Services Manager.

“We are also looking for enthusiastic tenants to join the admin team and help feedback all the ideas and then report back the actions onto VocalEyes so that everyone can see what is happening with their ideas and the proposals they’ve voted on.”

At the Fun Day many had a go using the system and 50 signed up. VocalEyes can be accessed through any device such as a desktop computer, laptop, ipad, or mobile phone as long as you are connected to the internet.

Tenants can also access VocalEyes training via Coastal’s Digital Inclusion sessions.

 

Picture: the VocalEyes team

Pioneers in Digital Decision-Making posted on 23 Oct 2015
The first VocalEyes Digital Democracy training day of the Scottish Coalfields Regeneration Trust took place on October 23rd 2015 at St Stephen's Glasgow's conference facility.
 
Representatives of several coalfields communities were successfully inducted in all things VocalEyes to enable them to collaborate together on ideas and progress the work of the CRT and to enable their communities to harness digital technology to work together on ideas and priorities.

Photographed are some members of the Scottish CRT team, ambassadors and Sarah Hoss, the VocalEyes director who came to Glasgow from west Wales to deliver the session and forge links between VocalEyes and the Trust. 

Participants fed back the system would be invaluable to them to assist them with their community engagement efforts. Sarah Hoss, from VocalEyes, said:

'It's been an absolute pleasure to work with CRT on this - I'm so thrilled that here in Scotland it is the coalfields communities that are the first to pioneer in the use of this system to enhance decision-making and include more people in the crucial work of the Trust'. 

David Wright of CRT added: 'CRT are delighted to be able to furnish our ambassadors with such a powerful tool. It will be a tremendous asset to them in canvassing opinions and monitoring the progress of the projects taking place in their communities.’


Photo L-R: James Bruce (Lammermuir Community Transport), David Wright, Alex Downie (CRT), Sarah Hoss from VocalEyes, Clarke Steele (Watson Memorial Bowling Club), John Syme (Dumfries and Galloway Council).





Meet Up Forged Links posted on 20 Oct 2015
A conference call (using GoToMeeting software) was held on Oct 19th bringing together members of the A4D movement from all over the UK and Ireland. Chaired by Penny Cole, in Scotland, a 'get to know you' meeting was successfully hosted online which included interesting contributions from as far afield as London, County WIcklow, Oxford, Manchester, and a strong contingent of seven members of the Swansea Bay Assembly for Democracy. Those in attendance pledged to meet in person as soon as possible. 
Democracy for today posted on 17 Oct 2015

Not a movement of protest - but a movement of what we stand for is how Gerry Gold described the People’s Assemblies - which has gained some interest in mainstream media recently after the use of the term by the Labour Party. However the movement itself is not drawn up along party lines and encourages groups to come together with different ways of trying to achieve a more democratic society.

“We are challenging traditional party boundaries and opening up a more democratic space and atmosphere where we don’t ask the State for anything and instead focus on working together - aspiring to greater continuing development.” Gerry said.

Gerry reported that currently there are several emerging Assemblies for Democracy - Scotland, London, Manchester, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Swansea, Wicklow, North Wales, Oxford and Oban.

Swansea’s A4D is discussing the possibility of naming itself ‘Swansea Bay Assembly for Democracy’ to pull in a wider geographic reach.


Report: NewSplashMedia




What Price Food Security? posted on 17 Oct 2015

Swansea has a diverse local food supply instigated by the immigrant communities focused on the production of fresh. local food by independent growers/suppliers. However, many people rely on poor quality mass-produced food with the known impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

Clean water and fresh local food is what food security is about, said Geoff Thomas, a Swansea-based horticulturalist, in his brief presentation about food security to the Swansea Assembly for Democracy.

“Society often forgets we are totally dependent on plants to sustain ourselves” explained Geoff. “Our economy is built on plants!”

Geoff suggested that everyone in Swansea should be able to grow some food - even in a couple of grow-bags. “If you set up your own community garden and grow your own you will benefit from the higher quality of the food and learn a really vital skill. We could be self-sufficient in Wales if we grew more of our own food and produced and consumed less meat.”

Geoff also mentioned the CSA - Community Supported Agriculture movement that is helping people to self-fund local food production - Cae Tan and GowerPowerCoop are collaborating with the CSA to produce organic produce. Geoff’s also been involved in a project with Swansea University looking at vertical growing, which has is said to use much less resources in terms of land and water, than traditional horizontal methods.

Swansea is a hotbed of agricultural projects with many local communities already turning so-called brown field sites into green growing spaces and allotments. Geoff also highlighted the local groups involved in setting up green energy projects and animal husbandry such as Gower Power. Community Benefit Funds will also be arriving in Swansea where the energy produced will not only help the city to become more sustainable and also bring in money for the community. Such projects are the start of a movement that could see Swansea and many communities in Wales become excessive producers of quality local food and green energy in a ‘win win’ scenario.


Report: NewSplashMedia

Is it Chi Time? posted on 17 Oct 2015

Imagine a city centre shop where we exchange and share ideas and projects to help take Swansea to a more sustainable way of life where people can come together and not only prioritise some innovations but also tap into the expertise of fellow residents to create projects and businesses from feasible ideas.

That was the subject of the first A4D pitch from Peter Anderson in a short presentation he shared at the recent Swansea Assembly for Democracy meeting held at the Volcano Theatre on Swansea’s High St.

Peter reported that one of the ideas under the topic ‘How can we bring democracy to life?’ on the Swansea District VocalEyes group was for such a space to be established to help turn some of these conversations and ideas into tangible actions.

“We’re looking at creating a community innovation space for people in Swansea for groups, volunteers  and enthusiasts to make use of. It would be a shop front on the High Street where people could develop projects and business plans together and share knowledge”.

“We’ve been unofficially offered lots of different empty spaces in Swansea for this. I would like to see VocalEyes Digital Democracy used to underpin the consultation and decision-,making processes to help local groups progress their projects”.

The proposed Community Innovation Hub - (Chi anyone?) would house a 'productive and fertile space' for the innovation and incubation of new ideas and initiatives starting with the regeneration of Swansea’s High Street. Ideas will often start their journey on the digital platform VocalEyes and be identified as a priority allowing everyone to have a say.

The objective is to tap into the collective knowledge and wisdom of local people and empower them to implement projects that will increase the level of positive social, environmental and economic impact in the area. Projects would have access to an exhibition space and publicity. A public engagement space would be created allowing everyone to gain access to digital tools to increase the democratic nature of the decisions being mad

Several groups in Swansea have also expressed an initial interest in collaborating on this proposal. If you’d like to get involved, please contact Peter Anderson at peter.a@vocaleyes.org
Lobbying lessons posted on 17 Oct 2015

Did you know that 60 Syrian families will find safety in Swansea thanks to the campaigning and generosity of the people of Swansea? That heart-warming success story was shared by Dr Nada Hajar -  a 38 Degrees activist and local GP who has achieved tangible results from her lobbying activities. In an impassioned speech Nada explained how important lobbying is and he gave an engaging and interesting talk on how she’s achieved this success.

“It was a lobbying group that recruited the help of politicians to change government policy” Nada explained. “Four months ago 14 people from 38 degrees and the Green Party agreed to help with the plight of the Syrian refugees. At the start the UK wasn’t accepting Syrian refugees. Citizen UK set up a campaign to lobby for every district to agree to take in 50 families per city.In Swansea we were very active with a petition and we spoke at a Green Party rally. We met with all out local MPS and AMs and asked thern for support - even the Tory politicians agreed to do so.

“When they saw how many people were supporting us they changed their minds and now the council will be taking in 60 families - about 300 people fleeing the Syrian civil war.”

Nada’s talk demonstrated that with the courage of one’s convictions people can work together to do good things.






Democracy for today posted on 17 Oct 2015

Not a movement of protest - but a movement of what we stand for is how Gerry Gold described the People’s Assemblies - which has gained some interest in mainstream media recently after the use of the term by the Labour Party. However the movement itself is not drawn up along party lines and encourages groups to come together with different ways of trying to achieve a more democratic society.

“We are challenging traditional party boundaries and opening up a more democratic space and atmosphere where we don’t ask the State for anything and instead focus on working together - aspiring to greater continuing development.” Gerry said.

Gerry reported that currently there are several emerging Assemblies for Democracy - Scotland, London, Manchester, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Swansea, Wicklow, North Wales, Oxford and Oban.

Swansea’s A4D is discussing the possibility of naming itself ‘Swansea Bay Assembly for Democracy’ to pull in a wider geographic reach.