Power to the people

With councils having to cut back on many frontline activities, some worry that crucial services like waste management could suffer. Annie Reece discovers how an innovative partnership in Wales is giving responsibility back to the people 

This article was taken from Issue 76

The small Welsh estate of Glyncoch used to have a bad reputation. Once a flourishing mining town in South Wales, the town fell on hard times when the industry came to an end, and – as is often the case with high unemployment areas – became known as a hot spot for burglaries and petty crime. But things are changing for this community in the Welsh Valleys – thanks, in part, to a surge in community pride.

Glyncoch hit headlines in 2012, when it became the first town to launch a crowd-funding project to build a new community centre in the area. Despite having secured funding for the project from the National Lottery, when the organisation leading the charge – Glyncoch Regeneration Ltd – registered as a charity, the funding was pulled, leaving the group in a sticky situation. It had around two months to find £790,00 if it were to keep the grant funding already secured through other sources. Thanks to donations from people in the local area, as well as from strangers (actor and Twitter behemoth Steven Fry tweeted about the project to his six million followers, leading to a massive amount of interest), the project raised £792,021 in six weeks.