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Written Statement - Cynefin change programme

John Griffiths, Minister for Natural Resources, Culture and Sport

The Cynefin change programme has recently entered its second year, and I am pleased to report successes from 2013. Cynefin uses the skills of locally-based Place Coordinators to help improve the quality of life for people in communities across Wales by tackling poverty, developing resilience, improving skills and opening up opportunities for green growth. The cost for the management contract and employment of nine Place Coordinators currently amounts to £575,534 per year.  

The crucial difference between Cynefin and traditional delivery programmes is that Place Coordinators hold no budget.  Instead they work to build productive relationships and to help break down the barriers between communities and the services that are provided to them. Cynefin empowers communities to take responsibility for creating their own positive change.

Feedback from local stakeholders and communities is that Cynefin has added value to existing service provisions and that, in some areas, Cynefin has directly enabled communities to influence local authority spending decisions and activities.

The Place Coordinators’ work is covering a wide range of policy areas in my portfolio. In Llanelli, the Place Coordinator has looked at resilience with the local authority and other partners to design a comprehensive emergency plan and deliver emergency response training. In Newport, the Place Coordinator has facilitated conversations between hard to reach groups, such as the Asian Women’s Network, and NEST. As a result, households who would previously have been difficult to engage have now received energy efficiency advice and installations.

Many of the Cynefin activities include an element of training and skills development, with over 100 people having received some form of training as a result. In Neath Port Talbot, residents of the Fairyland estate have had Love Food Hate Waste training and have been offered courses in basic cookery skills.  Training in woodland and riverbank maintenance, assessing street cleanliness, fire safety, event planning and time banking has also been delivered across the Cynefin pilot areas.  

A number of social enterprises have been helped to become financially viable and some new social enterprises have been created. For example, in Caia Park, the Wrexham Place Coordinator has helped several social enterprises, at risk of closure, to become self-sustaining.

Through the involvement of Place Coordinators, grant funding amounting to over £100,000 has been secured by community groups through the Lottery, Arts Council for Wales, Natural Resources Wales, Ynni’r Fro, Keep Wales Tidy and Woodland Trust, and over 100 new relationships have been created between communities and service providers. These active links and funding have enabled communities to make real changes to places in which they live.

In Wrexham, Cynefin has supported the establishment of Wrexham Energy Group, linking them with Ynni’r Fro who have helped them access support and finance to assess the viability of hydroelectric schemes throughout the county. The group are holding an open day in the Ceiriog Valley to highlight opportunities for the local community to get involved in developing the project.

In Rhondda Fawr, the Place Coordinator has been working with community groups and local partners to develop a business plan to use the phytopthera diseased larch abundant in the upper Rhondda for biomass fuel for the local market.  The current proposal for a micro hydro site in the community woodland is also being linked into the business plans as a potential source of energy for processing the extracted timber.

Cynefin is prompting useful links with policy leads and key partners covering a number of other portfolio areas, including health, communities and local government, planning, education and culture, heritage and sport.  The Place Coordinators have also facilitated input into the Local Service Boards and delivery plans for local authorities’ Single Integrated Plans.

An evaluation of Cynefin is being carried out independently by Brook Lyndhurst through qualitative research, reinforced with data from cross-cutting indicators.

Preliminary data have given an indication of outcomes to date: in the region of 1,000 organisations and individuals are already engaged and active in Cynefin-related work streams, with 40 working groups created by the Place Coordinators. Together, these working groups have created over 70 local delivery plans; some for specific places, others for individual tasks or projects. Approximately 6,000 hours have been contributed from public, private and third sector organisations as well as by local residents and community groups.    

In December, the Minister for Natural Resources and Food agreed that the Place Coordinators would continue to operate in their communities until March 2016.  As there has been such a high level of interest in the Cynefin approach,  officials were asked to expand Cynefin to include two additional areas.  The expansion is expected to add in the region of £120,000 to the total annual cost of Cynefin. I can now confirm that the areas chosen are Llandrindod Wells and Tredegar. 

Llandrindod Wells faces multiple challenges, including a high incidence of people living in fuel poverty and high levels of unemployment. Rural poverty is also an issue in Llandrindod Wells, and I consider the employment of a Place Coordinator to be an effective way to link Cynefin with the RDP, the Environment Bill and the revision of Glastir, delivering significant benefits to the quality of life experienced by rural families.

Tredegar was chosen due to its wide range of socio-economic and environmental inequalities, and there we now have the opportunity to build on the recent deep place study of Tredegar conducted by CREW, the findings of which were launched on 28 April. A Place Coordinator will be well-placed to help follow through on the 17 recommendations made by the study and deliver tangible outcomes based on that research.

We anticipate that these new Place Coordinators will be in post by the autumn.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.