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Wales needs more trustees

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WCVAA DRIVE to help Wales’s thriving third sector become even stronger will be highlighted next month during a UK-wide week of events organised to attract more volunteer trustees. Trustees’ Week 2014 (November 10-16) is a national campaign highlighting and celebrating trusteeship. Wales will see the importance of good governance outlined through events and initiatives run by umbrella body Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and its members. They include a Twitter question and answer session, trustee seminars and the opportunity to enter a prestigious national annual awards ceremony. “We want to encourage people to take up trustee responsibilities,” said WCVA Acting Chief Executive Phil Jarrold. “Trustees are crucial to the smooth running of the third sector, but not always easy to attract.

They play a vital role, making important decisions about their organisation’s direction. Taking on such work can be both challenging and demanding, but those who decide to become trustees are not alone, and there is a wealth of information and support available for them.” Events taking place during Trustees’ Week include: Two shared learning seminars for trustees, which will be hosted by the Wales Audit Office in Cardiff on Tuesday (Nov 11) and Llanrwst on Thursday (Nov 13).

A WCVA Twitter Q&A on trustee training and development on Friday (Nov 14) using the hashtag #trusteesweek as part of a programme of Q&A sessions being held during Trustees’ Week – including ones to be hosted by the Charity Commission and the Charity Finance Group. The deadline for entries for WCVA’s Third Sector Awards Cymru, featuring a category rewarding good governance, which is also on November 14. The winner in the 2013 awards was YMCA Swansea which, between 2007-2013, saw a significant growth from having just four members of staff to employing 31 people and managing another 34 across Wales, delivering an all-Wales portfolio with a turnover of £1.5m.

Chief Executive of YMCA Swansea, Anne-Marie Rogan, said: “To have a board of trustees that is 100% engaged and committed to the organisation has been fundamental in building our organisation’s strength and determining our strategic direction.” One of the runners-up in the same category were the trustees of Vale Centre for Voluntary Services (VCVS), Barry, who led the organisation on a programme of continuous improvement since the adoption of the Practical Quality Assurance System for Small Organisations (PQASSO) more than 10 years ago.

Partnership and Development Manager, Clive Curtis, said: “The award shows that VCVS trustees have worked hard to ensure that the organisation is fit for purpose to support voluntary and community groups and also demonstrates that we have robust policies and procedures in place.” A number of Welsh trustees have been recognised for their work over the past year, including Tenby’s Kathy Talbot, who recently stepped down as Honorary Curator of one of the town’s top tourist attractions – its Museum and Art Gallery – but has remained as a Trustee.

Kathy, who picked up a 2014 WCVA Wales Volunteer of the Year Trustee category award, was credited by her nominator with bringing the museum into the 21st century. “The role of trustee should bring skills and contacts for the administration of – in our case – the museum, to ensure a sustainable future,” she said. “A trustee can take both a bird’s eye and strategic view of the operation, but at the same time should be prepared to take an active role, helping in seeking funding, outreach work and marketing, etc.” WCVA and county voluntary councils across Wales are able to provide direct support to individual trustees and trustee boards, as well as signposting to further sources of expert advice and guidance.

A range of information sheets to help trustees are also free to download from WCVA’s website, as well as free publications including: Good governance: a code for the third sector in Wales Faith and hope don’t run charities (trustees do) WCVA’s governance health check. Other support includes events such as the annual Wales Charity Law and Governance conference in May, and seminars delivered by a range of professionals including associate accountants and solicitors. Visit www.volunteeringwales.net and www.recruit3.org.ouk to find out about trustee vacancies in your area.

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Park Authority Committee tours successful carbon reduction projects

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MEMBERS of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) Committee made a tour of local projects recently that have benefitted from SDF funding.

Since 2000, over 200 projects have been supported by the Fund. Over the past year, the Fund has changed its focus to support community-led projects that mitigate the climate emergency by contributing to a reduction in carbon.

Coppicewood College, which promotes and supports sustainable woodland management, was one of the successful applicants visited by Committee Members. After entering into talks with the West and South Wales Wildlife Trust and securing a new home in Pengelli Forest on a 25-year lease, an application was made for SDF funding to build a workshop using sustainable building methods. Both the College and the Wildlife Trust will benefit from this new partnership, as the College now has a brand new home in a prestigious SSSI woodland and the Trust will be able to have a programme of woodland management tailored to the needs of local wildlife.

SDF Committee Members also paid a visit to Clynfyw Care Farm, where funding has been used to pay for equipment, set-up costs and training in a new vermicomposting (worm composting) project. This creates a sustainable and high quality compost, which can be used to improve soil conditions organically for local vegetable produce growers, while sequestering carbon during the process.

Bwlch-y-groes village hall also formed part of the itinerary for Members, who were shown where the SDF-funded photovoltaic panels and electric vehicle charging point, which are set to complement the new building, will be positioned.

The tour came to an end with a talk from the Cwm Arian Renewable Energy Project, which has received an SDF cash injection to help with the Pembrokeshire Energy Efficiency Programme (PEEP) – a project that aims to engage with communities across North Pembrokeshire in order to understand behaviours in energy reduction.

Jessica Morgan, Funding and Grants Officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust, said: “It’s been hugely rewarding to see so many innovative climate solutions coming to fruition as a result of SDF grants.

“We are now inviting applications for the next round of funding. If you are part of a community-led group or organisation based in or around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and have a project that would help reduce carbon and/or respond to climate change, please consider applying.”

Projects can include:

·       Installing renewable energy generation facilities, such as solar panels, to a community building

·       Transport initiatives that promote reduced carbon emissions

·       The installation of community facilities that minimise waste, such as water fountains

·       Any other community-based carbon reduction initiatives.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Friday 10 September

Further information on how to apply and an application form can be found at www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/sustainable-development-fund/.

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Firefighters respond to industrial unit fire at Rope Walk, Hakin, Milford Haven

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EMERGENCY SERVICES are responding to a fire at an industrial unit off the Rope Walk in Hakin, Milford Haven this morning (Tuesday, July 27).

The fire broke out just after 10am. Witnesses at the scene told our reporter that they beleived the fire was linked to welding work which going on a the time on the premises.

Three fire applicances are engaged with fighting the fire.

Another person close to the scene said: “Black smoke could be seen from quite a distance, and there were popping sounds and small bangs coming from inside the warehouse as the fire took hold.”

No injuries have been reported.

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Trial bathing water testing project makes a splash

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A TRIAL project is making waves in the way the quality of bathing water is recorded and how that information is presented to those thinking of taking a dip.

Launched during the baking hot weather and at the start of the school holidays, the project run by Pembrokeshire County Council aims to develop an information platform for local people, visitors and activity groups to detail the bathing quality away from Blue Flag beaches.

As an Authority, Pembrokeshire County Council is very proud to have the most Blue Flag beaches in the whole of the UK, and this is testament to the fantastic water quality that we have.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the coast is blessed with these conditions and water quality can change on a regular basis

For the project, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Pollution Control Team will take up to six samples, across the period of the school summer holidays.

The team will then provide weekly information on bathing water results, framed against the EU Bathing Water Standards.

Pollution Control Lead Officer, Nathan Miles, said: “To achieve Blue Flag status, it is pretty well known that beaches must meet strict criteria on bathing water quality.

“But we understand that people like to swim right around our coast, not just at Blue Flag beaches, so we thought this trial could provide the bathing water quality information where there’s interest in open water swimming.

“The project is centred around water quality and water safety and linking up with local community councils and interested groups such as the Bluetits Chill Swimmers.

“We are looking for community partners or local councils to develop signage and noticeboards as well as use social media to provide information on water quality and safety in their area.”

Members of the Bluetits were on hand this week to launch the project as Council Pollution Technician Scott Findlay took a sample from Solva Harbour.

That sample will be analysed in the lab and the Bluetits informed of the water quality at the harbour.

Bluetits Chill Swimmers Director Sarah Mullis, said: “We as an organisation believe in giving swimmers the information and tools to increase their knowledge of their local waters in order for them to make choices and take responsibility for their own safety so that they can access all of the benefits that we know open water swimming brings. 

“Up until now this has been in the form of short films on rip currents, waves, tides etc. The data that has already come from this water testing scheme, and talking to Scott about what affects the readings has been fascinating, and we are learning new things about the water we swim in every day.

Pollution Technician: Scott Findlay takes a sample for testing from Solva Harbour (Pic PCC)

“We intend to share this knowledge with our community of 15,000 Bluetits, so this scheme won’t just help Solva Bluetits, but those worldwide to be aware of what may affect the quality of the waters that mean so much to us.”

Cllr Mark Carter, County Councillor for Solva added: “It is great to see this initiative between PCC and the community of Solva that gives local and visiting open water swimmers the information and confidence to make the most of the beautiful area that is Solva harbour.” 

Bruce Payne, Clerk of Solva Community Council said water is the driving force of nature and Solva’s bathing water is precious and must be protected.

He added: “The water testing scheme is very important to the community council. It helps safeguard the water quality for everyone.

“Water sports is also a vital component of village and harbour life. We care about our shared harbour environment and want everyone to be safe and to enjoy the clean seawater of Solva.”

For more information and to get involved in the trial project, contact Nathan Miles on 01437 764551.

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