Solidarity on the pitch

04 September 2019

The Local Conversation in Caia Park, Wrexham recently supported their local football team to continue to play in their league and bring pride to the community.

It’s well-known that football brings people together. Football teams inspire millions of fans worldwide. On the Caia Park estate in North Wales, hundreds of hearts are beating for their local team, the FC Queens Park.

For more than six years, the local team has brought passion and emotions to their community, being promoted in record time and winning cups.

Earlier this year, the club faced a major challenge when they were told that they had to renovate their pitch in order to meet new Football Association Wales regulations to continue to play in the League. Significant and urgent investment was needed to build a concrete path and a 100-seat stand.

Paul, and his son, Ryan, looking at the football pitch in Caia Park, Wrexham 

The football pitch is in the heart of the Local Conversation area, which is one of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Wales. Residents cross the field daily to visit the office of Caia Park Partnership Ltd, the local community organisation supporting the Local Conversation project. Every week, hundreds of supporters gather to watch their team train and play. It’s a place where people meet, play and socialise. Without this support, the club would never survive.

Paul, treasurer of the FC Queens, raised the issue with Kristian, the Local Conversation Officer, who supported him to organise the community to complete the renovation work themselves. Through the Local Conversation project, the club benefitted from a small grant to cover the costs for the concrete, the painting and other materials.

Throughout summer, the community gathered on a number of occasions to undertake the work.

On 6 July, professional builders, former footballers, supporters and residents volunteered to concrete the path. Paul explained: “It would have cost thousands more if we had a company to do the concrete and we wouldn’t have got better than these lads anyway.”

Residents volunteering to concrete the path 

About 70 people, from 10 years to 75 years old, joined in to help. Paul was impressed how many children came: “we had 30 paint brushes and not enough to give everyone!”

Everyone in the community contributed in their own way to make it work. “What surprised me was all the laughing. It was good fun! We had free food and people making cups of coffee and tea. People I had probably never seen before were down here. It was heart-warming to be honest”, said Paul.

Kristian added: “It’s about relationships. This is what happens when you pull together and build on community strengths. And in some cases you need to rally around things.”

Local Conversations is a People’s Health Trust initiative which involves supporting residents in neighbourhoods across Great Britain to develop a shared vision for their community and take action on the issues that matter most to them.

In Caia Park, local residents decided on three priorities they want to address: safety and the environment, older people and young people. A small grants fund is available to spread funding around the community, and support local groups to deliver activities and events addressing the priorities.

Residents of the Local Conversation in Caia Park

 

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