News

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

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

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.






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.

posted on 17 Oct 2015

  • Your own comments and replies can now be edited for 20 minutes
  • Split the Rating and Pledging carousels into two separate carousels
  • Improvements to title and description when sharing on Facebook
  • Slight improvements to the look of comment replies
  • Group header and logo images load speed improvement
  • Added Privacy Policy page, and Facebook and twitter links to the bottom menu

*** Group Admin changes ***

  • Filter by item status / publishing options in all content / member lists using a simple drop-down
  • Excel report:
    • Separated Active from Archived topics
    • Topic status is now shown on top
    • Declines are excluded from rating counts
  • When creating a group, accented characters are now properly transformed into their non-accented latin equivalents when auto-creating (as you type) the group's URL Alias
...AND...

- Many many bug fixes!

posted on 10 Oct 2015

Canturbury College HE department is a new user of VocalEyes. A big welcome back to all our returning students this week and a special welcome to our new students.  I hope you are all looking forward to a productive and rewarding semester.

A big thank you to all of you who attended the Induction Week.  It was a challenge at some sessions to fit you all in, but I hope you found the week useful.  Induction Week is now listed as a topic on VocalEyes and I welcome all your ideas on how we could improve your experience.

Your tutors will have the opportunity of booking additional sessions around Resources, Meet the Geeks and in particular Study Skills over the academic year.  In particular, we will be delivering Study Skills sessions during the first half of this term.  This session will review what was delivered in Induction Week but will go into more detail and where possible will be course specific.  You will hear more about this from your tutors shortly.

So I will sign off by wishing you a successful and rewarding semester and I look forward to viewing your ideas and comments on VocalEyes.

posted on 23 Sep 2015

Canterbury College adopt a new digital system, 'VocalEyes Digital Democracy' which will better capture learner voice and encourage students to participate in generating ideas to improve their college. Rate, comment, debate and add ideas under associated topics.    

posted on 17 Sep 2015

We're very excited to announce the date for the launch of the Tiers Cross Community Solar Fund!  We will be holding an open event on 9 October for residents and interested parties to hear more about the fund and start to gather ideas on what the money should be spent on.


posted on 16 Sep 2015




In response to a suggested idea for the Bro Garw, which is to create a digital, downloadable leaflet to promote the Garw Valley, we have been researching existing sources. We have therefore found a few different links for downloadable PDF leaflets that already exist, which all promote and advertise the Garw, local walks, and areas of particular interest.


So, here are the links to the promotional leaflets we have found:

http://www.gvcc.org.uk/Garw-Valley-Community-Council/UserFiles/Files/garw_valley_walk_1.pdf


http://www.love2walk.co.uk/love2walk/downloads.aspx - Features basic walks in Pontycymer, Llangeinor, Blaengarw, etc, with images.




We also found this website about valleys around South Wales, which has a lot of information about the Garw. It also highlights some main areas to explore:

http://www.thevalleys.co.uk/explore/explore-the-valleys/garw


What do you think of these links? Do you believe that they are helpful in promoting the Garw Valley as a great place for visitors and potential tourists? Or, is there anything else you feel would need to be added?

posted on 11 Sep 2015



In order to help you utilise VocalEyes, and make the most out of the Bro Garw on this system, we have created a YouTube video to instruct you properly! If you don't quite understand how to join VocalEyes, and use it fully, this video will let you know in detail.

We explain both the Bro Garw and VocalEyes in simple terms, with the basic steps to join. We also let you know how to submit ideas, rate, and comment successfully. 

Check out our video - and YouTube channel! - here to watch it all and learn more: https://youtu.be/sD2BFP3na6E

posted on 21 Aug 2015

Len addressing the People's Assembley Rally Sat 20 June, 2015

posted on 18 Aug 2015

Please come along to the planning group for the first Assembly for Democracy in Swansea. We need your help.

There are a host of organisations and thousands of people actively demanding and working for democratic change in the UK. Many are inspired by movements for democracy globally.

Among them are OpenDemocracy, the Democratic Reform Party and Occupy Democracy. Many people argue that grassroots democracy is the answer to some of the big issues of our time.

more info.. http://assembliesfordemocracy.org/swansea-programme/

Join us by registering here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/wales-assembly-for-democracy-planning-event-registration-17616990894?aff...

posted on 1 Aug 2015

The Coalfield Regeneration Trust Scotland have successfully started using VocalEyes.

We have set up a strategy group to ensure progress of the project.

We are being trained (via Skype) by the VocalEyes team in Wales.


posted on 29 Jul 2015



We have a brief update about our impending micro-hydro project for the River Garw, with some exciting developments to come!

The micro-hydro scheme is still currently the top rated idea of all of our top community-benefit ideas on VocalEyes, so we have been looking into how we can go about implementing this. We have been having important discussions with various people to gain essential support and funding, and have a good idea of ways to further the project and make it a future reality.

Many of our plans and developments are currently confidential, but we will update you as much as we can as we move forward. This is just an update to let you know that plans are currently in motion, and we're excited about the progress with this project!


You can see the top idea for the micro-hydro scheme on VocalEyes here: http://vocaleyes.org/vocaleyes/idea/view/id/3446/grp/10459/feed/rated

However, keep adding your own good ideas and rating your favourites today! We are committed to making beneficial change for all in our Garw Valley community.

posted on 10 Jul 2015



This week, the Bro Garw Heritage Regeneration Trust has been lucky enough to be featured on Me & My Community! 

Me & My Community is an online network that covers social enterprises and community interest companies across the UK, highlighting all organisations that work for the benefit of local communities, as well as on a national scale. Our Bro Garw works for the benefit of all in the Garw Valley, seeking to regenerate the area by developing good ideas from local people, and making them a reality.


Check out the article here all about our Trust: http://meandmycommunity.co.uk/blog/spotlight-on-the-bro-garw-heritage-regeneration-trust

And join Me & My Community (for free!) to find out more about the great social enterprises, community interest companies and charities benefitting local people all across the UK: http://meandmycommunity.co.uk

posted on 3 Jul 2015

We are very excited to announce that we have in discussions about all of the current top ideas. There are a team of people very eager to get your good ideas up and running! 

The top idea right now is the micro-hydro scheme proposal, to work from the River Garw, utilising the natural flow of the water. A micro-hydro scheme is basically a renewable energy scheme, which will create hydroelectric power that produces electricity. This generated electricity can therefore be used to power homes and businesses in the Garw – benefitting us all!

 

These micro-hydro installations have been used successfully in many parts of the world, as well as here in the UK. They are also particularly popular in Scotland, as they have great countryside with fantastic rivers to make the most of.

 

We agree that installing a micro-hydro scheme would be an asset to the Garw Valley, and would benefit our town both economically and financially. This is why we have been looking into the idea, and think that it can be done. 

There are many ways to go about this – and one idea is that the scheme could even become community-owned, meaning you would have the opportunity to purchase your own share of the installation. This has worked well in other areas, as this ensures that our renewable energy is generated in our community and stays in our community, for the benefit of all locals.

 

We are in the early stages of planning currently, but we just wanted to update you about our progress so far! What do you think of this idea, and do you have any thoughts about how this could be achieved?

If you haven’t already – rate the idea and add your own discussion here! Alternatively, vote for another idea – or suggest others - here, and thank you for your input!

posted on 29 May 2015

Our ultimate goal for and the reason we started Bro Garw Heritage Regeneration Trust is to generate good ideas for creating change that will benefit the community and its local residents. In order to do this, we want to start off with changing one vital thing that the majority of locals think is most important to benefit our area, and allow this to lead the way for further change.

What truly matters is the top rated and most engaged with idea ultimately, as this will be the idea we take steps to make happen. We will take the top backed idea and take action to make it work, whether that idea is small or big, as long as it is beneficial to the Garw Valley and our local residents.

So, here is a list of the top rated and most engaged with ideas currently. If you agree with any of these, and believe one should be more highly rated than the other, simply join our group and vote!


1.     A Micro-Hydro Scheme – let’s set up a community-owned micro-hydro scheme. It would make money for the community and be good for the environment.

 

2.      A Coworking Retail Space – create a space where small retail spaces can work together, and rent parts and space.

 

3.     Bring Back the Carnival – the carnival was a fantastic event that brought the community together. It should return or become a regular, yearly event, such as in other parts of Bridgend.

 

4.     Promote Current Attractions – we need to focus on promoting the attractions already existing. For example: mountain biking, rambling, horse racing, railway, and the history.

 

5.     Restore the Railway – there’s not enough money or volunteers to help restore the mining railway system. We need to encourage people to take part and improve this. (Check out the Garw Valley Railway on Facebook here, they would love your support as a volunteer or help with any possible donations!)

 

6.     Storyboards on Buildings – we could add interesting storyboards on buildings, exploring the local, quirky stories. This would be fun for both locals and visitors.

 

7.     Don’t Allow Places to be Bought and Stripped! – If places are bought on Oxford Street, we need to ensure that they haven’t been bought to be stripped of the assets and left there. Every place needs to be of use and bring something to the area.

 

8.     Wildlife Appreciation – we need to encourage people to be more aware of the wildlife living in the area, which would also bring a greater awareness to the environment and climate. This could be done through wildlife walks, as well as activities such as bird watching and other ways of observing nature.

 

Do you agree that any of these ideas should be put into place? Simply click on the suggestions above for a link to each idea, and rate them!

posted on 6 May 2015

Bro Garw Heritage Regeneration Trust has been using VocalEyes to generate good ideas for the improvement of the Garw Valley for just over one month – and what a month that’s been!

In the beginning, we knew it would be tough trying to reach and engage local people of the valleys who want to help and be a part of the changes needed. There is always an amount of scepticism at the start of any new project – in any community – including people who really want change, but just don’t think it’s achievable. This means it can be difficult to break through that mindset, and make local people acknowledge the fact that they can help make a difference to their local area and community.

  

So, we started off by using Facebook as our initial platform for getting the word out and reaching local people. We asked one question: “what do you think would improve the Bro Garw area?” We weren’t exactly sure what response we would generate, but we wanted to start the discussion. 

However, what started off with a small bit of negativity and scepticism soon transformed into something entirely different. Local residents from the Bro Garw were soon commenting fantastic ideas and suggestions for the improvement of the area, as well as debating other people’s comments.

One question turned into an entire discussion amongst the residents of Bro Garw – creating far more reaction than we ever anticipated! This one question was generating comments and ideas for days, and we were delighted to have gained the engagement of local residents.

We were amazed at the sudden turn around, from apathy and scepticism to some truly positive thinking. We knew we had achieved success when people, who were previously commenting that no changes would ever occur, started posting their ideas for creating some essential changes in the valley.

  

We soon collected all of their good comments and suggestions, and added them to the Bro Garw Heritage Regeneration Trust VocalEyes, and kept trying to encourage the discussion to move from Facebook onto VocalEyes. But the main problem was that people seemed to prefer to stay on Facebook and add their ideas there instead.

On one hand, this was a positive thing, as at least locals wanted to keep the conversation going and keep bouncing ideas off one another. On the other hand, Facebook is not the ideal platform to have that discussion. On VocalEyes, locals can read through other people’s suggestions, rate them, comment, and add their own ideas. It’s easy to collect the essential data needed from VocalEyes, and to prove an idea is supported fully by the people of the Garw Valley.

 

Our goal ultimately is to find that one top idea that is most highly rated and engaged with, and take steps to make that happen. We will take action, whether the idea is something small or something wider: we want to make a beneficial change for Bro Garw, which will allow more good changes to follow.

It’s only been one month, and we already have many people contributing great ideas and rating others. We just need this online community to keep expanding and ultimately find the best, top rated idea to initiate the change needed.

 

So, if you want to be a part of the discussion to put the ideas in motion and really generate change, join us on the Bro Garw Heritage Regeneration Trust VocalEyes! It’s easy to join, all you need is an email address and a password, and you can vote for the change you want to see happen in the Garw Valley.

posted on 6 May 2015

The Hustings event held at the Volcano Building on 27th April went really well and was very well attended. Extra chairs had to be shipped in from all corners of the building to accommodate everyone. The atmosphere was friendly but with genuine interest and concern for the policies being put forward.
Lots of people commented on how smoothly the event went and how professional the compere conducted himself.
There were over 40 questions suggested by 38 Degrees members onto VocalEyes that were prioritised prior to the event and this set the running order for the proceedings.




posted on 28 Apr 2015

Calling all Class Reps! NUS Wales (National Union of Students, Wales) is putting on a refresher training event, open for all Class Reps. The training will be covering: - A re-cap of course rep activities (as outlined in the training back in October) - How to campaign - How to time manage/manage stress - The results of the Welsh Government Learner Voice survey - What were the main positives/concerns that people students Coleg Gwent have, and what to do about them! The sessions are taking place next week: Tuesday 28th April, 9.15am-11.15am in the Hall, City of Newport Campus Tuesday 28th April, 12.30pm-2.30pm in B103, Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone (Ebbw Vale) If you are based at another campus but would like to attend one of these sessions, please let me know asap and we can put on minibuses to transport you. This training will particularly help any Class Rep who is coming back next year, or who didn’t attend the training session in October, but is open to all reps, and will be informative and useful for everyone. Any questions, and if you would definitely like to attend, please get back to me. Jennie - jennie.dowsell@coleggwent.ac.uk

posted on 23 Apr 2015