The Willows Centre is a voluntary, committee-lead community centre that supports social, educational and recreational activities for community members of all ages in Troedyrhiw and the surrounding areas.
The works included putting up metal fencing on an exposed river bank, ensuring the children at the on-site nursey had a safe outside area to play in. Timber fencing was also erected to replace decaying fencing to enclose the community garden, making it a safer and improved place for the wider community.
In addition to this, Lovell created a BBQ area for the community to enjoy and funded the installation of a gate to make the garden even more enclosed.
Following the works being carried out, Ian Barnes, assistant site manager; Charlotte Holder, community development co-ordinator; Paul Phillips, build manager and Paul Haden, senior site manager, all from Lovell, and Lee Jones, community development manager at Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association visited the centre to see how the garden is now being used.
The Willows Centre has been working with H Factor to look after and revamp the space, which also includes raised bedding and a greenhouse. H Factor is a social enterprise which helps to regenerate buildings, land and communities in Merthyr Vale and nearby areas.
H Factor recently put in top soil and a range of plants, and their youth enterprise team have planted a variety of fruits and flowers.
Charlotte Holder said: “It’s been wonderful to come back to the Willows Centre to see how the garden has grown and is now being enjoyed by the local community. The garden looks lovely so far and I can only imagine how much better it will look once all the plants have fully grown!
“At Lovell, we put the community at the heart of all we do and were delighted to carry out this work to improve the Willows Centre. Supporting the areas amongst which we operate is something very important to us, and we pride ourselves on being able to offer support and contribute to local communities, alongside building much needed new homes for a range of local people.”
Natasha Evans, Youth and Community Development Officer at the Willows Centre, said: “We’re so grateful to Lovell and Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association for the incredible work they’ve carried out at our centre. By installing brand-new fencing and a lovely BBQ area, the outside space is now safe enough for children to enjoy and we couldn’t be happier to see them fully appreciating our community garden.
“It’s so important for us to provide the young people of Troedyrhiw with a designated centre where they can benefit from building relationships and learning new skills. On behalf of everyone at the Willows Centre, I’d like to thank Lovell and Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association for their all support and hard work.”
Lee Jones added: “This project is a great example of the wider benefits that can be achieved when community focused organisations like Lovell and Merthyr Housing work together for the wider community.
“This project at the Willows Centre will ensure that the benefits of the collaboration between Merthyr Housing and Lovell in regenerating the area go further than the building of new homes and will improve the lives of people, and especially young people living in the area.”
Lynne Colston at H Factor commented: “We were delighted the Willows Centre received this funding to refurbish the garden area. The garden will grow fruit and vegetables for the community, and already offers a garden maintenance service. Customers who have used the service to date have been delighted with the results.
“Members of our enterprise team are learning new skills daily and were recently employed as assistants on the holiday programme, where they provided excellent summer activities that used the woodlands to improve well-being. Our young people desperately need projects like this where they learn practical skills for employment.”
Ymyl Yr Afon is being developed by Lovell in partnership with Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association. It consists of 110 open market homes and 43 affordable homes, and is due to complete in October.
The development was recently announced as a finalist in the Welsh Housing Awards, in the ‘delivering high quality homes’ category. The awards ceremony is taking place virtually on Thursday, September 30.
Visit the Willows Centre for more information.