Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Dafydd Elis-Thomas joined National Trust Director General Hilary McGrady today to open a new community hub at Tredegar House.
With aspirations to become the epicentre of learning and social engagement for the residents of Duffryn (Newport), the renovated building now comprises a wheelchair accessible kitchen, training room and lounge area while the adjoining outdoor spaces have been transformed into an accessible, community-managed allotment and garden.
With interest from a number of local organisations such as Growing Space, Urban Circle and Newport City Homes, the hub has already begun to hint at its potential of facilitating activities designed to contribute to a sense of well-being within the local community.
The building and outdoor spaces will work in tandem to support the delivery of formal and informal training, including RHS qualifications, independent living courses, healthy cooking sessions and drama and music workshops. In doing so, community members will have the opportunity to reap the benefits being out and about in nature can have, as well as those brought about by building new social connections.
Community Engagement Officer, Philip Wilson said: “We are excited to have finished the first phase of the project, with the Laundry building already being utilised by community members. The second phase will involve the growing of the allotment and gardens, which I think will really demonstrate what this project is all about.
“These outdoor spaces will belong to the Duffryn community and will be managed by volunteers who are keen to develop their gardening skills and have a passion for being outdoors. All the food grown by the team will be used in food preparation courses taking place in the new kitchen or taken home to be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.
“The allotment and gardens have been designed to be as inclusive as possible, with raised bedding for wheelchair users, a tactile sensory garden suitable for those living with memory or developmental disorders and a garden of tranquillity to encourage periods of reflection and relaxation.”
During her opening speech National Trust Director General Hilary McGrady said: “This project is what the National Trust is all about. It didn’t start with conservation or the building, it started with people and what the people of this area wanted from this wonderful space and making everyone welcome.
“The benefit the Trust is here to deliver is being lived out with this project; the bringing together of people within a hugely important place.
“I want to say thank you to everyone who has been involved in supporting this project, a huge thank you to our funding partners and finally to those who have given their time to make this ambition a reality.”
The project would not have been possible without the support of the Welsh Government’s Community Facilities Programme and the BIG Lottery Create your Space Programme.
Lord Elis-Thomas said: “I am so very pleased that we have been able to support such an excellent scheme, which delivers many benefits – not only the refurbishment of a historic building from dereliction into purposeful use, but also the creation of an attractive and accessible space where local people can come to learn new skills, become more involved with their community or simply relax.”
While the infrastructure is already in place, the Trust has launched a fundraising appeal to support the purchase of seeds, bulbs and tools for community volunteers to bring the gardens to life.
You can support the appeal by donation in person or online at nationaltrust.org.uk/tredegarhouse.
Image credit: National Trust/Aled Llywelyn