How Lee Gardens Pool Committee brought a whole community together

06 May 2021

When the Lee Gardens Pool Committee started their community project in 2015, some people in the small Welsh village of Penrhiwceiber were unconvinced that they would be able to reopen the local children’s pool which closed in 2013.

Over the past seven years, Lee Gardens Pool Committee, who have received two grants from People’s Health Trust using money raised by Health Lottery Wales, have managed to bring their community together in ways they couldn’t have imagined.

Penrhiwceiber had the highest child poverty rates across Wales in 2017/18 with 49.4% of children living in poverty. Health inequalities in Wales mean that people living in neighbourhoods experiencing the highest levels of disadvantage will have a reduced healthy life expectancy of 18.2 years for females and 16.8 years for males.

Health inequalities are driven by unequal access to the social, economic and environmental circumstances that help people live long, healthy and happy lives.

These factors, known as the social determinants of health, include our social connections and networks, our local environment, jobs and income, local economies, housing, education and skills, and the individual and collective control we have in our lives.

Lee Gardens Pool Committee have worked with their community, so that they are empowered to take collective action over several social determinants of health. Through opening the pool again to the community, local people have received training, accessed jobs, helped boost the local economy and built social connections.

When the project first started, the pool was completely overrun by weeds but through working with over 100 community volunteers, schools, the local authority, local businesses and larger corporations, they were able to re-open the pool for the community to use. The support they received from local partnerships, such as British Gas who sent 67 volunteers to help and GE Aviation who sent 92 volunteers, has enabled them to expand their project beyond renovating the pool.

Lee Gardens Pool Committee now run social activities within the community for people of all ages including a Knit & Natter group, Friendly Fridays and after school activities for young people. The pool, which was originally built from the selfless actions of miners, has become a hub of local activity and was described as the beating heart of the village when journalists paid them a visit in 2019.

The success story of Lee Gardens Pool has continued to have a huge impact on the community during COVID-19. During the pandemic the project has organised food deliveries and worked with schools to identify families facing the highest levels of disadvantage in the community. The group also set up a WhatsApp chat for people in their Knit & Natter group to remain connected and, for those who preferred not to use the technology, a volunteer acted as a ‘Reader’ who then telephoned members and read out the messages from the WhatsApp chat so they too could stay connected.

Lee Gardens Pool Committee have demonstrated that when communities are able to come together to address a mutual challenge, they become stronger and gain more collective control over the inequalities within their community and are better equipped to overcome barriers to good health.

Diane Locke, Lee Gardens Pool project lead, said:

“Working on this project is so rewarding. People tell us we put so much effort in but we get out every bit as much of what we put in. We love meeting people and when we see the smiling faces of the children, parents and elderly, it’s amazing.”

Lee Gardens Pool Committee is funded through the Trust’s Active Communities programme for their Lee Gardens Pool: Learning Together project. The project was awarded £20,255, in January 2020, with money raised by Health Lottery Wales.

You have already completed an application for funding, are you sure you would like to submit another application? You should only submit another application if it is for a different project. If you want to amend an application that has already been submitted, please call us on 020 7749 9100.

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