About Keep Wales Tidy's Tidy Towns' work in Cardiff

Hi, my name is Chris Partridge and I am Keep Wales Tidy's Tidy Towns Project Officer for Cardiff. Activities we undertake are often in partnership with Cardiff Council's Parks Department (both waste services and Community Park Rangers) and Street Cleansing. We have organised events for several businesses across Cardiff and is happy to accommodate future requests. For more information you can contact Chris on 07717 412 270 or by Email: chris.partridge@keepwalestidy.org You can also follow me on Twitter for upcoming events @CardiffKWT

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

March: Out with the old and in with the new

The new Tidy Towns funded Project Officer for Cardiff has been appointed. His name is Richard Weaver and he can be contacted on the same telephone number 07717412270 and by richard.weaver@keepwalestidy.org . Richard has a strong background in conservation and working with volunteers, formerly with Birmingham City Council as a Ranger. He has been volunteering with several groups in Cardiff for a number of groups including Cardiff Rivers Group, Friends of Bute Park and Riverside Greenwood Working Group. He will no doubt be contacting several of you and carrying on the work in Cardiff. There will be a handover period so please be a little patient with him as we make this transition as smooth as possible.
We'll be loading up new blogs onto the new KWT website from now on, so I'll put a link on this blog as soon as I have it.
This month, I, Chris, have started my new post as SE Wales Regional Manager, helping the 7 regions in our cluster. While learning the ropes on this role, I have also been fulfilling some of the events pre-booked before the new post was awarded. One of these was another Routes to School project with the last feeder Primary School in the cluster to Corpus Christi High School, St. Josephs. This school is in a built up area, but have a great little green space with some extremely mature trees. I had a few bat box kits left over from the tremendously successful Wild Weekend Project. So we did the popular build and camouflage painting session. It went down extremely well with both children and staff loving it. When I returned to drop off the Routes to School Litter Picking kit, the class had almost finished transforming the back wall of the classroom into a massive tree with a huge bat box with bat facts. I was amazed and it really shows how we can inspire people so easily at a young age. The school have also agreed to put the nearby park on their list of places to regularly pick and will report the data back to us just like the various groups and litter champions across Cardiff do.

Cardiff Friday Mornings environmental Project (CFMEP) almost finished off our long stretch of dead hedging on the edge of Grangemoor Park and had loads of positive comments from passersby. Some of the volunteers were going to be performing a similar activity at a local football club after learning the skills with us.

We then returned to St. Mellons to carry on working on a little section that Cardiff Parks Services had given us permission to cut back and pick near Cath Cobb Woods and Tesco. There was not a huge amount along the path we had previously picked. However, we went back to a stream by the side of Tesco. We pulled out 5 trolleys from within 4 metres of the bridge at the back of Tesco and loads of litter. There’s still some left, but the 10 vols bolstered by 20 students and staff from Cardiff and Vale College collected 21 bags of litter. This was all kindly collected by Parks Waste Services.

I have had a great time in Cardiff over the last few years and I hope you all find Richard as nice and impressive as I’ve come to see already and onwards and upwards for us all.


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Making steps to change

Dear all,
As many of you know, I am taking over my line manager’s post as of March 1st as maternity cover. As such, this may be my last monthly update for a while, but hopefully the next officer will be able to carry this on when he or she starts. It is a very useful way to show the many groups, schools and Litter champions that although you all will not see me very often, that I am out there and trying to work really hard to make things a little bit better. Please continue to email me with enquiries, so I can try and deal with them and help train up my replacement as quickly as possible.

February has been quite a nice month, I helped St. Philip Evans Primary School with their 3rd annual coppice event early in the month in Chapelwood Woods and this was again really successful. We looked at how well last winter’s and the winter’s before hazel stools had regenerated after they had cut them to the ground. We also looked at the dead stool which some local people had set fire to with a wheeliebin; the children were quite rightly so upset at this.
Pupils from St Philip Evans cutting the stem into sections
The proof of how well these kind of projects do work isn’t just measured by the decrease in litter, but by bringing along a next generation of volunteers and I was really pleased to see while the adjacent woodland of Roundwood was getting roundly hammered in the SW Echo for being a historical and current dumping ground, that Chapelwood was getting a litter pick during half term with 4 local litter champions of which 2 were from St. Philip Evans Primary School (1 from Llanedeyrn Primary School). Chapelwood was a place where I had no local volunteers when I started, severe flytipping and antisocial behaviour. It was a site where external people, mainly from organisations were brought in “to give something back to the community”. Now, local people are helping to look after it and momentum is building with more local children want to join in to help keep the estate and the woodlands tidy. A big well done must be made to David Keigwin from Chapelwood Residents’ Fed for organising and looking after the kids when they are out litterpicking (nicely it is the kids nagging him to come out).

 Well done to the litter champions of Chapelwood during half term

We finally finished the last wild weekend event with Cardiff Trail Scrubs and Ely Community Mums with our bird and bat boxes going up adjacent to the Ely trail where the guys pulled up Himalayan balsam last summer. It was done with oermission from the landowners, RWEnPower with a member of staff coming along on the final day too. Hopefully, this is the start of something really promising. Thanks to ACE and JustaddSpice for helping to organise and Ely North Youth Centre for hosting the box making and painting sessions.

Boys will be boys

On the note of working with kids, I have done loads of events with Llanedeyrn Playcentre over the years and the problems in their woodlands have dropped off significantly too. Here, a path next to the centre was blocked from a fallen tree and with the children from the centre, we made it safe and constructed a rustic bench from some of the wood. The Playcentre is a crucial local hub for young people and brings the kids from all different schools together to have fun and do positive things. The staff are pivotal to this and I wish there was more opportunity to do this kind of work. Once you get the kids hooked they work really hard and really care about these green spaces on their doorstep.
Training the next generation of volunteers
The bench the children made, it is wired and staked in place, held off the ground to delay rotting.
Our work up on the Hollybush estate is working really well with Coryton Primary School and Hollybush Resident’s Association seeing a decrease in the amount of litter on the Estate on our latest litterpick. The only hotspot now is the open air car body workshops that seem to take place and instead of putting car bits and oil etc in the bin (oil to the right place at the tip), they are throwing it on and down the nearby bank. Hopefully a bit more awareness raising work by the school and this unnecessary behaviour should be changed too.

Hollybush Residents' Association and Coryton Primary with their haul
Joining up schools and local people is becoming a bit of a theme, but it is a very useful one that works and next is an early developing story. There is an amazing chap who lives in Butetown who has gone through an awful lot in his young life which has partially been reported in the newspapers already. Anthony has been in remission from a form of brain cancer for almost a year now. He raises money for several charities including a children’s charity through fun runs (you may remember a picture of someone in the Echo dressed as Sonic the Hedgehog). Anthony has been coming out with me on a Friday with CFMEP and Cardiff Rivers Group for about 6 months. He is so proud of his area and so sad to see so much litter, that he signed up as a Litter Champion just before Christmas. Since January 1st he has collected 110 bags of litter from just around Butetown. If you pass by there, you may see him with his wheelbarrow piles high. Separately these are inspirational, but together I’m lost for words. Anyway, with help from Saeed Ibrahim from Fairwater’s Waterhall Youth Centre, who lives in Butetown, we met up with Mr. Morris, headteacher from Mount Stewart Primary School, who is really keen to get out there at least once a month with the after school EcoClub to help make the area a nicer place to live and to support Anthony. We’ll help them for the first 2 events and equip them with all the information and skills that they’d need and they can carry on together, just like a community group. Oh, and Anthony has just collected his 40th dumped umbrella too.

Anthony dragging the Emperor's new mattress along
Our Friday mornings’ CFMEP group has had great fun this month including helping out the Wild Fishing Wales project in Troedyrhiw by building steps down to the river. We have also been busy in Grangemoor Park with permission from Parks Services clearing, coppicing and dead hedging a little patch adjacent to the Ely Trail. On the last event, the previously described Litter Champion Anthony, helped another volunteer Sue, to cutback some dogwood trees and the brash was bundled together into sausages called fascines.
CFMEP with one of our sets of steps in Troedyrhiw

Sue and Anthony with one of the bundles from Grangemoor Park
CFMEP's dead hedge, so far
These fascines were then taken to an after school eco-event on a Saturday morning to help stabilise a bank that was being washed away near Glyncoed Primary school. 7 kids, 2 dads, 1 teacher, 1 local litter champion and another volunteer came along to stabilise the bank by staking the bundles in front of the bank. To do this, Richard Weaver, showed all the kids how to use a billhook to sharpen a willow rod into a stake; they all then had a go. Meanwhile the grown ups all helped to put in some posts to mark a safe edge of the adjacent path. We were quite surprised when barring holes for the wooden stakes that some of the path already had water about 2 ft underneath it. When the fascine defences were in position the kids added the rails using drills and hammer and nails. One of the children came up with the same idea that I was taught at college; the rails can be made perfectly parallel, by spacing them apart using the length of the hammer. Problem solving, communication & working together; Glyncoed Primary School kids key skills complete.

Glyncoed Primary School's after school EcoClub on a Saturday with Richard in the water getting one of the Grangemoor Park bundles in place.
Fencing and fascines in place

Monday, 28 January 2013

Snow good doing a tidy up

Well January so far has been a combination of cabin fever and postponed events and meetings. However, it has allowed a good opportunity to do a lot of paper work. This includes writing up some of the nice projects that we have been involved with. From the last few months of updates, quite a lot of effort has gone into our Wild Weekend projects which have a had a surprising amount of spin offs considering it is knocking a few bits of wood together. For instance the event between Glan yr Afon Primary School and Dave one of our Litter Champions in Llanrumney has brought the two together fantastically. The kids are now much more aware of the difficulties in trying to care for the environment with so very few people and are keen to lend Dave a hand to Keep Llanrumney Tidy. Moreover, the kids in more deprived parts of Cardiff often have poorer basic skills in language and communication. For this project, we sat down with the kids and wrote up a press release for the project. As all the kids were involved from the researching through to building and camouflage painting the boxes, they were all really engaged in the project and wanted to write stories, quotes etc. As a result of this hard work, the article was published in last week’s SW Echo and I met some of the kids and they were over the moon. So, we’ve managed to achieve a great deal all for £100 worth of Homebase vouchers. We’ve also just put together the parts from the Wild Weekend projects with Glan yr Afon and St. Bernadette’s Primary school to make a display in Homebase, Newport Road. Homebase with WG and CCW donated money towards the Wild Weekend Project, so it is nice to show Homebase and their visitors what we have done with these vouchers.
Dave, our star litter champion in Llanrumney is on the left here with Community Parks Ranger Kevin next to him. Well done to Dave for making all the boxes for this project.
Kids from St. Bernadettes getting Wild, SW Echo
Kids from Glan yr Afon Primary show of their camouflaged dormouse boxes, SW Echo
It cannot be understated, the positive effects that these stories getting into the SW Echo has on this kids. The funny thing about the last article is that the kids wrote the press release and I was the one mentioned in the paper. Funnier thing is that 2 classes took part in the project from yrs 5 & 6, one made dormouse boxes and the other made bat boxes. I did the press release with the bat box class while the dormouse box class had dance class. Nevermind, it is always the taking part that counts.
 We are just about to finish off the Wild Weekend project between our Lakeside Litter Champion Ian and Lakeside Primary School in Discovery Wood later this week. This again will hopefully help the woodlands to decrease the amount of rubbish as we’ve engaged so many of the children here too.

 Lakeside Primary School's make and paint the boxes
We already know that St. Bernadette’s have been responsible for a vast decrease in fly tipping in woodlands adjacent to their school by getting involved locally and putting out newsletters on it and we hope to bring more schools out to achieve similar things in their area.

 One are which has always been very difficult is the path at the north end of Cath Cobb Woods between Tesco and Oakfield Primary School and there has always been loads of rubbish dumped there. CFMEP came back in our first event of the year and cleared 23 bags of litter with about half on the Cath Cobbs side hopefully helping the Friends Group a little. We also cut back a little bit of brambles with permission from Parks Services and aim to get back there in February to do a little more cutting back (Parks also took away all the collected rubbish).
One small corner of our works, loads of litter was in the brambles
Most of the CFMEP team with the haul

Friday, 28 December 2012

Working in a Winter Wetterland

December was very similar to November with a great deal of time and effort focussed into Wild Weekend Projects. Most of these were achieved from permissions granted from Parks Services to build on the hard work we have been doing over the last few years in some of Cardiff’s Green Spaces by constructing various habitat boxes including birds, bats or dormice. The Wild Weekend Grants came from WG, Homebase and CCW and the lucky grant winners received Homebase Vouchers.
Community Park Ranger putting a bat box up a tree from St. Bernadette's Primary School's efforts
We finished off the bat and bird boxes over in Ely with Ely Community Mums and Cardiff Trail Scrubs with help from Ely and Caerau C1st and Ely North Youth Centre. We just have to pick a date to put them up in situ in January.

We started two very similar projects over in Llanrumney and Lakeside, pairing up litter champions with Primary Schools; these were Glan yr Afon and Lakeside Primary Schools respectively. Both events were great fun and the litter champions really enjoyed it. Great stuff by Dave who made all the boxes himself from our designs and they looked pretty good too. The project in Lakeside was not a Wild Weekend project as it failed with its grant, but was a Tidy Towns-funded habitat project. The nice one about this project is that we again used Ian’s fence preservative which we rescued from a flytip over a fence along Wern Gethin Lane in St. Mellons from earlier this year.
Glan yr afon pupils with their camouflaged dormouse boxes
There was much worry this month over insurance of groups and we were kindly rescued for this year only by WG giving permission for Tidy Towns money to be used for this year only. From next year onwards, groups will seriously need to find ways of funding their insurance. For instance, my own group plan on having a supermarket bag packing session with our local primary school to raise money for the School and for the Nature Reserve.

Our Cardiff Friday Mornings Environmental Project (CFMEP) rolled along nicely in December with a visit to Llanrumney helping out our litter champion over there. On this trip we met a really nice new volunteer who is really keen to join in with our activities. Very, very slowly we are making progress against tough odds and difficult circumstances. The only way to make the changes is working with as many primary school kids as possible in this area. Anyway, the 10 of us cleared 37 bags of rubbish plus about 200kg of larger stuff out of the woods around Llanrumney Playcentre.
An early picture of the rubbish in Llanrumney
We are always excited about new opportunities and performing habitat and woodland works, so we gave a trial to a lovely project in Troedyrhiw, Merthyr where we made a set and finished off a partially completed set up steps down to the river. This is part of the Wild Fishing Wales project and even though it absolutely chucked it down, we really enjoyed it and will be returning again in January to help out again.

Oh it was so wet, well done you brave few

I also had a look at a 14 acre site in Blaenau Gwent which the Council have allowed our officer over there, Thom, to manage. Here we will set up a coppice block which will be part of a larger rotation managed by Thom. We will be felling trees, processing them and will use the brash to delineate the margins of our woodland block. Again we will be coming here in January and/or February.

All in all, a good year and an exciting few months ahead for us all.