Newtown has secured £723,000 of investment from the Welsh Government to launch a series of local partnership projects to improve the wellbeing and resilience of people and businesses in the town.
The funding has been awarded to Open Newtown, an independent development trust and social enterprise which at the heart of what it does manages 130 acres of green spaces in Newtown.
Open Newtown will be co-ordinating five nature-based partnerships, which will work with people and businesses in piloting new ways of sustainably managing Newtown’s natural resources, with the aim of making the town a viable and vibrant place to live, work and visit.
These five projects will focus on wellbeing in green spaces, building resilient businesses, sustainable farming, young people planning a sustainable future and nature-based events.
These new projects are being supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government until June 2023.
The Wellbeing in Green Spaces project will see Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, Cultivate Co-operative and Oriel Davies Gallery working in partnership to harness nature, food, and art, in the town’s green spaces to deliver health and wellbeing services.
Head of Wellbeing at Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, Carla Kenyon said “Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust are thrilled to be a partner in this exciting project, and we are very encouraged that Welsh Government are committed to investing in wellbeing and nature initiatives for the benefit of people living in and around Newtown”.
In partnership with Ponthafren, Circular Economy Mid Wales and Robert Owen Community Banking Fund, the Building Resilient Businesses project will offer wellbeing support to business owners and staff, environmental efficiency audits and a circular economy loan fund to provide support services to the town’s businesses.
With partners Robert Owen Community Banking Fund and the Severn Rivers Trust, Open Newtown’s Sustainable Farming project will support a group of 25 Upper Severn farmers near to the town to enhance land and water management and biodiversity.
The One Planet Generation project will see Open Newtown working with local young people to investigate our environmental impact and what we can do, as a community and individuals, to reduce it. This project will also develop a programme of outdoor, nature-based activities for local children in Newtown
The Open Events project will involve Open Newtown working in partnership with Oriel Davies Gallery to develop a programme of diverse events to celebrate the town’s natural resources.
The five projects will be managed by Lynne Burns who said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the ENRaW funding. These new projects bring together a strong partnership of local organisations to collaborate in a way that enables our natural resources to be linked to people’s wellbeing.
“By engaging people and businesses, our aim is to pilot and develop viable support services based on our natural assets in Newtown. The projects will test what communities can achieve, given the right support, access to land and freedom to do what they do best.
“One of the most exciting projects will see young people in Newtown working with Kerala Irwin, Open Newtown’s youth engagement officer to investigate Newtown’s ecological footprint and to plan for a sustainable future for the town.”