Wales

Glyncoch estate's efforts to tackle poverty

Glyncoch
Image caption Regeneration and education programmes have been run for nearly a decade

The Glyncoch estate, two miles north of Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taff, is a community long-associated with deprivation.

This is a place with fewer than 3,000 people, but here are a few facts:

  • 42% of those over 16 have no qualifications
  • 38% are economically inactive
  • Of those not working, one in three are on long-term sick

But for the past decade, work has been going on to improve skills and raise ambitions.

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Media captionAlex Nott plans to start a degree course in September

ALEX NOTT, a single mother of two, claims employment support allowance, child benefit and child tax allowance.

She left school without qualifications but has done different jobs and has, recently, been taking courses. Ms Nott is unfit to work, but she starts a university degree course in police forensics in September.

"I think it's enough to live on," she said of her benefits.

"I manage and I run a car. I wouldn't say I live in poverty, I've a nice house, it's warm, as long as there's food in the cupboard and the kids have shoes on their feet.

"But I know with people on Jobseeker's Allowance - it's not a lot of money."

Her eldest daughter, 16, has been looking for work in shops, restaurants and cafes for the past five months.

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Media captionDr Sarah Lloyd-Jones, director of the People and Work Unit defines what poverty is

DR SARAH LLOYD-JONES, director of the Cardiff-based education charity People and Work Unit, has been working with regeneration projects in Glyncoch for six years to combat poverty.

"When we first came in, well over 50% had no qualifications whatsoever, no-one was learning in a sixth form - environmentally, the community was very run down.

"But we found it's more mixed than you might expect. There are highly skilled people, those running their own businesses, professionals living here.

"We looked at drawing people together, looking at people as a strength, not just the problem. We worked with the Communities First team and regeneration programmes focusing on how people can get skills and what it takes to create a level playing field.

"We now have a lot of people in sixth form and pursuing qualifications. It's not all about what we've done but part of wider improvement with primary schools doing much, much better than they were."

Image caption The Chance To Learn office has facilities for people to use

KATIE GILLETT, leader of the Chance to Learn project, where Alex Nott and her daughter have been training.

"There's more participation now," she said of changing attitudes within the community.

"We're not working for them, we're working with them, there's a different take on it.

"It's had a massive impact on the value of life and quality of life. It's about the one-on-one support we give and money [we get] is an important part of that."

The community has benefited from work from the likes of Oxfam while education, health and skills programmes are delivered by Communities First.

Presenter Stephen Fry tweeted and helped back a successful crowd-funding campaign for a new community centre.

Projects in Glyncoch include Build It Together, which has helped 100 people gain practical skills to help them back into education, training and work.

Young people have been taught practical skills like woodworking and decorating to help them into education, training or employment and about 100 people have been involved as volunteers, trainees or apprentices.

Ms Gillett recognises that Glyncoch is still a poor area and its long-term recovery will also be determined by factors outside the community.

"It all depends on how Wales' economy goes and if we can find replacements for those industries that have gone in these areas.

"But it's not all about jobs; educational attainment is a massive thing towards that. And as long as we realise what skills are needed to meet the job market, it should grow and we should develop economically."

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