The Council has signed a 99-year lease to transfer St. Mair’s Day Centre in Aberdare to Age Connects Morgannwg (ACM) – enabling the charity to proceed with its plan to deliver a Community Hub on the site.
Last year, Cabinet agreed to the Community Asset Transfer of St. Mair’s Day Centre through the RCT Together approach, to enable the local older people’s charity to transform the Centre through its ambitious Cynon Linc project. RCT Together is focused on working with communities and the voluntary sector to explore alternative delivery models, and maintain services for the future.
Cynon Linc will offer residents a much wider range of services under one roof, following significant renovations to the existing building scheduled to take place in 2019. The project will include a new GP surgery, children’s day nursery, café, information and advice hub, a space for local groups to hire, meeting and conference facilities – as well as the relocated head office for ACM.
From August 1, responsibility for the building was transferred to ACM, pending lease negotiations. The charity has since operated the Centre for existing user groups, continuing the lunch service which was expanded to include food and drink from 9am to 4pm on weekdays, with people of all ages invited to attend.
The Council and ACM have now signed the 99-year lease, and an event to mark this milestone was recently hosted at the Centre. It was attended by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member Councillor Rhys Lewis, along with ACM Chief Executive Rachel Rowlands and Chairperson Colette Colman.
Cynon Linc has received funding from the Big Lottery Fund CAT2 programme – which was confirmed in February 2018 – as well as funding from Dunhill Medical Trust and the Pen y Cymoedd Community Fund. Construction work for the project is anticipated to begin next year.
Councillor Rhys Lewis, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being and Cultural Services, said:
“I was very pleased to attend St. Mair’s Day Centre in Aberdare recently, which has now become the home for Age Connects Morgannwg ‘Cynon Linc’. This ambitious project will bring a number of important services together in a single building, for the benefit of service users and all ages of the wider community.
“The Community Hub model to deliver services has a number of advantages – including more fit-for-purpose buildings and a better offer for users, as well as improved accessibility and a more cost-effective approach – and this is the approach that Cynon Linc supports.
“The 99-year lease for St. Mair’s was agreed by Cabinet with its RCT Together approach in mind – where, during difficult economical challenges, the Council helps local groups to run existing services, in order to maintain them in the future. RCT Together has seen a number of services supported – including Cynon Valley Museum and the Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd
“Cynon Linc is a very exciting opportunity, with the community at its heart. The project received £1.1m Lottery funding earlier this year, and this has now been followed by the fantastic news that the lease has been signed to transfer the Centre. I’m looking forward to seeing ACM make even more progress on this ambitious project, with construction on course to be delivered next year.”
Colette Colman, Chair of the ACM Board, added: “It is marvellous news that Age Connects Morgannwg has been able to sign the lease to take over the premises for the Cynon Linc hub. Age Connects Morgannwg is best placed to deliver this amazing project that will be at the heart of the community. There will be a series of events that will involve the local community to help us to ensure that Cynon Linc becomes the Community Hub that we need it to be.”
Rachel Rowlands, Chief Executive of ACM, said: “The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and the Social Services and Wellbeing Act put people at the centre of health, social care and community well-being – indeed, those national strategies rely on communities leading, shaping and being in control of their own future.
“The Cynon Linc Project and its funding partners turn those strategies into reality by supporting social enterprise to grow and provide a vital, sustainable community resource for years to come. From day one, this project has been led by the older people who currently enjoy the centre and I would urge the wider community to get involved by following our progress on social media –and by calling in for a coffee and a chat with the Cynon Linc team.”