Swansea Seniors Find Joy, Fitness in Weekly Social Walks

Swansea Seniors Find Joy, Fitness in Weekly Social Walks

Each week a group of over a hundred seniors meet near the Waterfront Museum for a walk, cuppa and chat; an activity many say helps them stay mentally and physically fit.

Swansea Marina Social Walk is a weekly walk organised by the Swansea Council and the charity, Action for Elders. 

“I was suffering from depression, so it’s a very good thing to come here and I recommend it to everyone,” says 70-year-old, Mr Howard Williams. “I’ve been able to make new friends, and, uh, it’s benefited me both health-wise, and especially mentally, because other friends have suffered with different things, and we help each other.”

It was started after the Covid-19 pandemic as a means to help people come together after a long period of isolation.

Action for Elders Operations Manager Myles Lewis told Swan TV that while the walk originally started with six members, their group has now grown to 120 members. 

“I think it’s it’s such a simple idea, doing a walk but I see the smiles on people’s faces a lot of whom are widows who have lost partners, have no friends or isolated in the house,” he says. “So, I think it makes them look forward to a day of the week where they can come out, exercise, meet friends again, and have a tea or a coffee.”

However, Mr Lewis believes that the walk alone is not the best part of the activity for elders.

“I think the walk is obviously great and when you’re around the marina you can go along the beach but actually, I find that the actual tea and coffee after is the most important aspect,” Myles adds. “Because again, that’s how we can tackle loneliness is people making friendships within the group where they can exchange numbers and contact each other outside the group.”

Mr, Williams, who has been coming to these walks for over a year and a half says that the friends he made in the group, not only helped him combat depression but also saved him money.

“One garage quoted me a hundred and twenty pounds to take care of my car and one of my friends sent me to another garage and they then did the full job for 35,” he says. “I also advise others on gardening, painting and everything and we all help each other if we’ve got a problem.”

Each member can avail a free cup of coffee or tea after their walk.

Mr Lewis, who co-ordinates the walks, says though his job is challenging, he is driven towards it because he can see the change it brings to the members’ health.

“Split the walk into three lengths with the short walk being our shortest walk at only a mile long,” he says. “And we find people are not capable of doing that short walk, but when they do it consistently from week to week, they’re expanding their, lungs and getting more active and pushing themselves and some of them move on to the medium and even the long walk.”

Mr Williams, now a diligent member of the group, says that he saw a positive change in his physical health after coming to the walks.

“The amount of obesity in Swansea is absolutely ridiculous. I was putting on weight myself and it was making me ill,” he says. “There’s a shortage of beds in the NHS because of obesity so I recommend everybody get exercise.”

“After all, you would not want to carry 100 pounds of weight and not be paid for it. Yet, you’re doing it with your own body,” he adds.

Though it may seem intimidating to join a large group, Mr Lewis assures prospective new members that they can join anytime they want.

“We’re all friendly and we’re all welcoming,” says Mr Lewis, “ If you feel a bit anxious, because I understand coming to a group of about a hundred people you might feel a bit anxious — make yourself known to one of us and we’ll make you feel welcome and introduce you to some people.”

 

Evocative Dance Performance highlights the Cost of Living Crisis

Evocative Dance Performance highlights the Cost of Living Crisis

BTEC students from Rubicon Dance showcased a small dance performance titled ‘ONCE UPON A 2024’ at the Volcano Theatre on 18th April 2024 as a part of the upcoming The Shape of Things to Come 2024.

‘Once Upon a 2024’, a beautiful dance reflection throwing light on the growing cost of living crisis, was choreographed by Marianne Tuckman and directed by Deborah Ford, BTEC course leader. The musical dance performance had the sound mastering done by Ariel Schlichter.

 

Marianne Tuckman and Deborah Ford

 

The short dance performance depicted the lives of six girls— played by Laura Gilchrist (19), Mia Da Silva (20), Seren Vodden (18), Madeleine Orwin (19), Taleigh Vodden(17), and Mia John (20)— who are on the verge of leaving their houses this September to different cities and have to deal with managing the rising cost of living.

 

From the right: Laura, Mia da Silva, Seren, Maddie, Taleigh, Mia John

From the left: Laura, Mia da Silva, Seren, Maddie, Taleigh, Mia John

 

A still from the dance performance.

 

The preparation for the performance was very ‘intense’ says Marrianne, as the girls had just 2 weeks to prepare for the dance from scratch.  Meanwhile, Deborah remarked that it was a ‘new’ and ‘rewarding experience’ for the girls to present a multidisciplinary art form, involving text and acting in addition to their dancing.

The dance was a reimagination of the popular fairytale ‘The Little Mermaid’ by Hans Christian Anderson. The dance was set on a stormy night during the raging housing crisis and depicted the resilience of the girls in challenging circumstances.

“And if it gets too damp to dance, no worries. We’ll swim from here (Ancient Proverb, dated 2024)!”

The short yet impactful performance ended with a monologue penned down by Mia John. The text of the monologue read:

 

Dear Me (in 10 years),

I don’t expect you to have it all figured out.

I don’t expect you to understand why some people have no money
while others have too much,

Or why this family of 3 live in a 5 bedroom house with a bathroom
each, and this family of 5 live in a 2 bedroom house and all share the
same shower.

But maybe, you have moved on from what’s hurt you. And your
dreams are less far away than you once thought.

I don’t expect you to have solved world hunger, but hopefully you’re
earning some money, and putting food on the table for someone you
love.

I hope that table is in a house of your own, covered in colours and
warmth, without a hint of cold or damp.

1 hope you can afford to keep dreaming. Dream of the muddy paw
prints left on your extra large Queen size bed – the one you’ve always
wanted. Hope that you toilet trained your dogs before letting them
come upstairs.

Your life has only just begun- Look after yourself as you would the
little girl bubbling deep inside of you. Do everything she needs from
you.

Lots of love,

Mia

 

We talked to the girls after the performance. They all currently live with their families in Cardiff but will soon be moving out. Mia John said that she is ‘nervous and excited’ about her upcoming university experience. “You can use dance to express most of the things,” said Seren. Mia da Silva added that topics like the housing crisis are “something very relevant and a lot of people can relate to it.”

This summer, the Volcano Theatre is open for informal afternoon gatherings, offering tea and cakes before a stellar lineup of performances. The event was free to attend but accepted donations which went to the Rubicon Dance group.

You can follow them on Instagram: Rubicon Dance and Marianne Tuckman.

Applications for admission to the Rubicon Dance is open until 26th April 2024.

The Volcano Theatre in Swansea gives space for small-scale commissions to freelancers since 2022. The theatre provides room for short performances that ‘look toward the future in some way’ and makes imaginative use of spaces in its ‘cavernous building’. The aim is to make up for the lack of opportunities for freelancers and also give the audience a space for planning a big night out in the wake of the cost of living crisis.

Schools to receive most of £3.8m investment for building repairs

Schools to receive most of £3.8m investment for building repairs

Over a dozen schools will benefit the most from a £3.8m joint investment by Swansea Council and the Welsh Government for essential maintenance and building upgrades in the city over the next year.

The council has approved the major programme of the works meaning that around £1.7m will be directed to these schools for repairing roofs, electrical upgrades, and other improvements.

Cabinet Member for Education and Learning Robert Smith said, “As a council, we recognise just how important education is not just to pupils, parents and staff but also to our city’s future economic well-being.”

“The maintenance and repairs programme is in addition to the record £150m investment in new and improved school facilities in Swansea under the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme,” he added.

More than a dozen Swansea schools will benefit the most from this investment. (Picture for representation purposes)

The council’s toilet strategy is also set to receive £50,000 in addition to the £100,000 that was provided last year to maintain and upgrade the council’s network of public toilets.

Leader of the Council Rob Stewart said, “Despite less funding being available from the Government for this kind of work for the year ahead, we are once again investing significant sums on essential maintenance improvements for our schools and public buildings.”

Additionally, £600,000 has been set aside for emergencies and to maintain listed buildings including war memorials that the council has pledged to maintain on behalf of veterans.

Another £50,000 has also been earmarked for the council’s toilet strategy on top of £100,000 last year to maintain and upgrade the council’s network of public toilets.

“Our capital maintenance budget spending demonstrates how the council’s priorities match those of the people of Swansea and, at the same time, help make inroads into the backlog of maintenance improvements our schools and public buildings need,” the leader of the council added.

Important Venues in Swansea bounce back after the Pandemic

Important Venues in Swansea bounce back after the Pandemic

Swansea Council continues to fund major leisure and tourism sites to help them recover from the pandemic hit. Many visitors have flocked to these sites, thus helping the businesses grow.

Freedom Leisure, Wales National Pool Swansea (WNPS), Plantasia and the National Waterfront Museum are some of the sites that have benefited from the Council’s help.

https://www.plantasiaswansea.co.uk/exhibitions/

Exhibition at Plantasia. Photo:https://www.plantasiaswansea.co.uk/exhibitions/

Let the numbers do the talking.

In the fiscal year 2022–2023 of Freedom, the number of visitors to the city centre LC and its other community leisure facilities increased by about 30% to over 1.8 million over the prior year. Revenue reached almost £8 million, up about 36%.

WNPS saw a rise in revenue of over £300,000, reaching over £1.3m.

Photo: https://www.swanseabaysportspark.wales/facilities-and-events/wales-national-pool-swansea/

Parkwood Leisure’s Plantasia experienced an increase in attendance from over 98,000 in 2022 to over 117,000, and income increased from over £200,000 to nearly £950,000.

The number of in-person and online visitors to the free-to-enter waterfront museum increased by around 10% to nearly 277,000.

Many venues and sites continue to face challenges in meeting energy bills and drawing visitors; however, the council is ready to extend its support to them.

Councillor Francis-Davies remarked: “We continue to be there for our leisure services partners during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis because they play a critical part in the life of our city and our local communities.”

The cabinet reviewed the Leisure Partnerships Annual Report, which examined the financial performance and visitor numbers for the city’s institutions that the council supports financially in a variety of ways for the year 2022–2023.

Cover Photo: https://museum.wales/swansea/

Council to set aside £1m for thriving sports clubs

Council to set aside £1m for thriving sports clubs

Several sports clubs at council-owned community playing fields across Swansea are set to receive a boost as the council plans to set £1m aside for changing room renovations. 

The funding will see facilities repaired, modernised and tidied up as community sports hubs are available to the whole community.

“Since the end of the pandemic and during the cost of living crisis, many sports clubs have been at the heart of their communities supporting the health and wellbeing of thousands of people in city neighbourhoods,” said Leader of the Council Rob Stewart.

“We’ve been talking to clubs about what the next steps should be and many called for changing rooms to be upgraded so they could be more easily used by women and girls and be more in line with the expectations of sports’ governing bodies,” he explained.

The council has previously allocated over £7m for over 50 new community play areas for children and planned to allocate £1m for a new generation of skate and BMX park facilities.

“Taken together they are the biggest investment in outdoor community play and sports facilities by the council in more than a generation,” said Councillor Stewart. “We’ve made this commitment because we saw just how important outdoor facilities have been to groups, families and individuals during the cost of living crisis.”

The changing rooms project was introduced last month at Swansea Council’s budget meeting and was approved by the full council; a report seeking funding for the scheme is set to be seen by the cabinet soon.

If the report is approved, an additional £1 million fund will be made available which councillors will be able to apply for to support more community projects and schemes in their areas.

Currently, the community budget scheme allows each member to use up to £15000 each year on qualifying projects.

Councillors have previously used these funds to support initiatives such as the provision of defibrillators, expansion of local wildflower planting programmes, sponsoring community events, and making small streetscape improvements such as sprucing up community gardens or giving public seats.

 

New Recruits appointed for the Maintenance of Beaches and Parks

New Recruits appointed for the Maintenance of Beaches and Parks

This month, approximately 30 recently hired operatives will head out to our parks and beaches to assist in maintaining the cleanliness and well-being of some of Swansea’s most beloved landscapes for both residents and visitors.

In February, over 180 individuals applied for seasonal positions with the Parks and Cleaning teams, with the goal of assisting in maintaining our most well-liked locations throughout Easter and the summer.

The six-month stay will run from now until September, to match the busiest season of the year.

According to Cyril Anderson, Cabinet Member for Community Services, everyone must do their part to leave our parks and beaches in the condition that they would like others to find them when they leave.

He remarked: “Littering is not only unsightly but it can also be dangerous. Bottles, disposable barbecues and dog messes are what people are concerned about the most because they put others at risk.

“In particular disposable BBQs buried out of sight at the beach retain their heat for many hours and can cause life-changing burns to children and other people who have no idea they’re there until they step on them.”

Anderson urges everyone to treat the parks and beaches with respect. For instance, take the dog poo home if you see that the bin is full. everyone can contribute a little.

In addition to picking up garbage, the summer beach cleaning crews will also help maintain the cleanliness of the council’s expanding network of Changing Places at locations like Knab Rock and Rhossili and remove weeds and sand from walkways and roadside areas.

Additionally, park recruits will assist our regular staff in maintaining our award-winning parks so that both humans and wildlife can take in the beauty and blooms.

Visit this link to learn more about the four award-winning Blue Flag beaches in your area: https://www.swansea.gov.uk/beaches

Visit this link to learn more about Swansea’s wonderful open spaces, including its Green Flag parks: https://www.swansea.gov.uk/parks

Cover Photo: Rhossili Bay https://www.swansea.gov.uk/article/24408/Rhossili-named-among-worlds-best-beaches