Posted: Mon 4th Apr 2016

Using Life Changing Experiences To Help Others

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Monday, Apr 4th, 2016

Three Llanelli residents who have had to face life changing health shocks are using their experiences to help others. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Fiona Evans, Stephen Ricketts and Derek Hermann have not only turned their own lives around but are active in their local communities. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

They are currently taking a Community Development qualification under the auspices of Communities First to develop their skills further. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Tutor Becca Rosenthal, who is teaching the course at Felinfoel Community Resource Centre, said: “This is a level 2 Community Development qualification and many of our learners started with informal workshops and completed level 1 before starting this course. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“It is for people who are interested in developing their own communities. They are working with professionals and want to be on the same page as them. This course is based on the National Occupational Standards for Community Development Practitioners. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The course has three themes, understanding the purpose and processes of community development, social inequalities, and development of community groups. Everyone is working around developing a set of skills.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Fiona, who lives in Felinfoel, became active with two local charities as a result of having her lower right leg amputated following a blood clot in 2007. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

She said: “The occupational therapist founded a Dyfed Amputees Self Help Group in Glangwili Hospital. I then did a course in web design and they became the subject as I did their website. We opened a new Dynamic Amputees Self Help Group in Llanelli which is doing very well. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I’m chairwoman of the DASH group and a trustee of the Limbless Association. I try to keep busy doing voluntary work. I’ve come on this course because I would just like to extend my knowledge about community development.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Steve has seen his life alter dramatically since his eyesight suddenly deteriorated around the time of his 50th birthday last March. He had to give up his job as a commercial tyre fitter working on commercial and agricultural vehicles and became involved in the community after his wife asked him what he wanted out of life. He decided he wanted to help others and became involved with Communities First taking various courses. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“What I’m looking for from this course is to become more confident mixing with people in a classroom environment. I definitely feel these groups are giving me confidence. Everything I do day by day is a challenge. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I’ve actually started a bowls club for the visually impaired in the Selwyn Samuel Bowls Centre in Llanelli. I’ve been given so much support by organisations in the town such as the Blind Association and I want to give something back. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I want to be an ambassador for the blind and tell people who have started losing their sight that there’s no need to sit in the house.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Proving his point, Steve, of Trinity Road, Llanelli, will be doing a 13 mile sponsored walk from Bynea Cycle Club to the Lifeboat House in Burry Port in July to raise funds for the Blind Association and Deaf Club and to raise issues of visual impairment. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Derek’s life changed suddenly when he broke his back while representing Wales in a javelin competition. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said: “I was working before I broke my back but cannot do that sort of work now. I did not know where to go or what to do. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“With the help of Becca, Communities First and Spice I’ve been able to reignite my spark. I originally did Community Development level 1 with Beca and the Carmarthenshire Street Buddy training, and quite a lot with Time Credits which has got me interested in helping my own community.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Derek, known as Del, is very active in his own community of 55 houses, Maengwynne, campaigning for community facilities such as a park, and involved in the tenants and residents association Maengwynne For Change. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said: “We will be holding our third annual Family Fun Day this year. Hopefully we will also be putting on our second fireworks display paid for by the people of Maengwynne for the people of Maengwynne. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Along with my wife Michelle and children Holly, aged 13, and Chloe, aged 11, we’ve been out earning a lot of Time Credits together as a family. It’s been a way of bringing our family together thanks to Communities First. They have improved my education and knowledge but also our family life. I can’t thank Communities First enough.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Carmarthenshire County Council was awarded funding from the Welsh Government to be the Lead Delivery Body to manage the new Carmarthenshire Communities First Cluster. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Communities First programme works towards Tackling Poverty through a focus on Healthy, Prosperous and Learning Communities, creating opportunities for residents to gain skills, access employment and become healthier. Carmarthenshire Communities First works across 14 areas in Carmarthenshire with a population of approximately 22,000. The areas include Pantyffynnon, Bigyn, Felinfoel, Glanymor/Tyisha, Hengoed, Lliedi, Llwynhendy and Trimsaran. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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