VOLUNTEERS FROM Cyfle Cymru have gone out on a limb to cut back forest overgrowth at Erddig near Wrexham.
Just a few short months ago, National Trust rangers couldn’t see the wood for the trees – but, with the help of participants from the peer mentoring project, flora and fauna are now being given new light and new room to grow.
Twice a month, Cyfle Cymru volunteers join the team at Erddig to help with the upkeep of the estate, plant trees and manage the forest floor. In time, it’s hoped their work will help encourage more native wildlife to flourish in the grounds.
The group have been given their own area of woodland, and are now responsible for its maintenance. Officials from the Welsh Government have even visited to see their hard work first hand.
Led by CAIS, Cyfle Cymru is an EU-funded peer mentoring project which works with individuals who have experience of substance misuse and mental health issues – and provides them with volunteering opportunities, access to training and support to find work.
Lucinda Schwarz, who regularly takes part in Cyfle Cymru events, enjoys volunteering at Erddig.
“I have been coming to the volunteering days since September, and they’ve really helped to build self-confidence and feel comfortable working around people again,” the 54-year-old said.
“When you come week after week, you start to see familiar faces and we start to open up to each other.
“I’m not just learning new skills, I’m also learning a lot about myself!”
National Trust volunteer Mark Dobson highlighted the importance of clearing invasive trees and plant species, making room for other trees to grow and attracting more wildlife to the forest.
“It’s important to the National Trust that we protect the land and maintain it for the future generations,” he said.
“By clearing space and planting trees, we don’t just benefit from it now. We are making a positive impact on the land for hundreds of years – and by then, these new trees will be fully grown.”
Cyfle Cymru is part of the Welsh Government’s Out of Work Service. Participants have already benefitted from more than 50,000 hours of effective mentoring, and committed more than 10,000 hours of their own time to volunteering across the length and breadth of Wales.
Peer mentor George James said participants from the Wrexham area loved working hard in the open air alongside rangers, and volunteers from partner agency ARCH Cymru.
“I’ve seen a complete transformation of the grounds at Erddig over the last few months – but in my eyes, the impact the programme has had on the individuals taking part has been even more valuable,” he said.
Erddig general manager Jamie Watson said he was grateful to everyone involved in the project for their contribution to the work on site.
“People make places and places make people; our CAIS and Cyfle Cymru volunteering project is such a good example of this,” he said.
“It is so rewarding to hear this feedback from volunteers and see the difference this partnership makes.”
Find out more about Cyfle Cymru by visiting www.dacw.co.uk or calling 0300 777 2256.
Cyfle Cymru is delivered by members of the DACW Consortium.
Cyfle Cymru is part of the Welsh Government’s Out of Work Service, supported by the European Social Fund.