Healthy Competition At Crystal Trophy Awards
Community groups that have gone above and beyond to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent ill-health have been commended in a prestigious and popular annual awards ceremony.
CwmTafUniversity Health Board’s Health and Wellbeing Partnership, which also comprises Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil Councils and the voluntary sector hosted the Crystal Trophy Awards at Coleg y Cymoed’s Rhondda Campus this month.
Both county boroughs have some of the worst health statistics in Wales, with vulnerable communities – and the organisations working to protect and support them – facing significant challenges.
However, both also have some of the most inspirational and innovative grassroots schemes in the country, with public services , voluntary and community organisations joining forces to tackle issues such as health, weight, mental illness, substance misuse and more.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and its counterparts, such as Merthyr Tydfil Council and Cwm Taf Health Board work together to deliver strategic measures to improve health and wellbeing, tackling top level issues such as healthcare, independent living and service delivery.
“But the success of this overarching work is the day-to-day, grassroots innovation that takes place in communities, targeting a particular group of residents or a particular health and wellbeing issue. This is where residents are truly engaged and assisted to deal with the issues that affect them.
“Crystal Trophy is a chance to showcase and celebrate this work, raising the profile of the sheer range of activities and services on offer across Rhondda Cynon Taf to help people to help themselves.
Nicola John, Director of Public Health at Cwm Taf Health Board, said; “These grass root projects are making a huge contribution to health and wellbeing. I commend the work of these groups and would like to see it replicated in other communities across Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil.”
Ian Davy, Chief Officer of Voluntary Action Merthyr Tydfil, said: “The Crystal Trophy Awards are an excellent way in which community groups and their volunteers can receive recognition for their fantastic work.”
The winners were:
First Prize: Fixers Project “Choices” – Fortsythia Youth Project.
This innovative project raises the awareness of “legal highs” such as NRG, Popper, Black Mambo and Meow Meow.
The misuse of these drugs were first raised in a PACT meeting held at the Forsythia youth project, where young people expressed their fears about the widespread use of the drugs. They wanted to do something to show their peers how dangerous and highly addictive the drugs were.
Merthyr Valleys Homes, Forsythia Youth Project and ITV Fixers met to see what could be done and this led to a series of workshops attended by young people, led by a group of seven sixteen-year-olds. As well as learning about the dangers of “legal highs” during the workshops, the sessions led to the production of a powerful DVD that can now be seen by other young people, parents and professionals wishing to find out more about this important issue – or raise awareness among young people.
See the DVD
Second Prize: Community Food Boxes (Rhondda Housing Association and FareShare Cymru)
This life-changing scheme is the first of its kind in South Wales and has seen healthy food that was once considered waste and thrown away by distributors, producers and retailers redirected into healthy food boxes that are distributed to residents in need.
Residents pay a small charge for the boxes (around 20 per cent of what the food in the box would cost to buy in the shop). For those in extreme hardship, the contribution they make to the cost of the box goes towards clearing their rent arrears.
Tenants of Tonypandy-based Rhondda Housing Association are among some of the most vulnerable in the region and austerity measures are biting hard for them.
The increasing struggle of making ends meet, combined with the fact 40,000 tonnes of food are wasted each year by the industry. As a result, the scheme was devised and boxes are now assembled and collected weekly. So far, 160 families have benefitted from the boxes and rent arrears have been cut by five per cent. The scheme also offers valuable volunteering opportunities.
Third Prize: Prepare to Care (Merthyr and the Valleys Mind)
Prepare To Care is a unique training opportunity for those who care for someone else in their community, or for those looking for a career in care. The Level Three Agored Cymru accredited course offers an informal and supportive introduction to care for participants. Find out what the participants said:
“Taking part has made me aware we are all unique with different health and wellbeing needs and disabilities and it has provided me, for the very first time, information about my choices and not to judge people.”
“I hope to be able to gain employment in the near future and feel what I have learned has provided me with the knowledge and confidence to make that giant step after being out of work for years.”
“I have Cerebral Palsy and my husband has Multiple Sclerosis. I never knew my husband was still capable of making his own decisions until we came on this course. This was ground-breaking and since this he has gained confidence and is able to articulate himself to our local GP and others around him. If only people could have known my husband before the onset of MS. He was an amazing man. I would dedicate the Crystal Trophy award in honour of my husband.”
Fourth Prize: Activity for All (Friends of Ty Cwm Care Association)
Ty Cwm is a first-of-its-kind complex providing extra care for those with physical and sensory disabilities and long-term chronic conditions. Residents were brought together via the Activity for All initiative and now enjoy no less than 44 fun, stimulating activities that not only bring people together socially, but also assist with health and wellbeing. Boccia, yoga, cake-making, computer classes and live music are just some of the things residents are now enjoying, thanks to this innovative project.