Ogmore Valley Life Centre celebrates 30 years

Over the last 30 years Ogmore Valley Life Centre has become woven within the lives of those living in the community.

With so many achievements reflecting the staff’s commitment to the local people, including it winning the award for ‘Halo Centre of the Year 2022’, as well as Scott Hancock, the General Manager, and Betty Kerry, a widely respected volunteer, both being presented at the ceremony with individual awards for their efforts.

The centre can accommodate everyone.  One mum explains how each of her three children benefit from the Life Centre, she says: “My eldest uses the gym, my youngest enjoys the Bounce and Play, and my middle child makes the most of the neurodiverse sessions to explore physical activities in a safe environment, without judgement.”


Kathleen O’Callaghan, a volunteer for the National Autistic Society for the Ogmore Valley, adds: “Having the support group here at the centre, not only provides reassurance for the children, but also for parents too – it’s a place where accessible advice and support is available.”


Scott Hancock says: “Since becoming the General Manager in September 2020, we have continued to develop the links that we have created with local charities, including the National Autistic Society Ogmore, Ogmore Pride, as well as the Ogmore Valley Suicide Awareness group (OVSA). We are all working towards and succeeding in making the Ogmore Valley a better place to live – with the endless support from the Ogmore Valley Community Council and Bridgend County Borough Council.”


Cllr Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations, says: “I’m a proud member of this community and am happy to shine a light on the efforts of the staff here, as well as the positive impact the centre has on the lives of those within the Ogmore Valley.

“It is a warm and welcoming place, with a vibrancy that makes people want to return time and time again – and nobody quite makes a cup of tea like Betty!”


Council shows support for Dementia Action Week

Bridgend Council Borough Council is proud to support the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week – a nationwide event dedicated to raising awareness of dementia and promoting an understanding of its symptoms.

Tonight, Monday 15 May, the main council office building in Angel Street is lit up light blue to mark the start of the week. Two dementia advisers from the Alzheimer’s Society were holding an information stand on Caroline Street in Bridgend town centre between 11am and 3pm, as part of the awareness raising for the week.

They will also be visiting some community sessions, including ‘Time for a Cuppa’ at Ty Cwm Ogwr residential home in Pant yr Awel on Wednesday 17 May and a coffee morning at Cwm Calon Day Centre in Maesteg on Friday 19 May.

Locally, Awen Libraries have a range of books ‘Reading Well’ that have resources on dementia. Alongside offering free spaces for activities and support at Aberkenfig Library for people living with Dementia and their carers on a Monday evening. Contact laradadic@bavo.org.uk for more information or visit: https://www.awen-wales.com/libraries/

Also, Halo Leisure are running the ‘Feel Good for Life’ programme, designed to give people living with dementia and their carers an opportunity to socialise and be active. For more information, visit: https://haloleisure.org.uk/feelgoodforlife/

Cwm Taf Morgannwg Regional Partnership Board have also launched a campaign to help improve care for patients with dementia and ensure standards are being met. You can find out more about local events taking place at the Cwm Taf Morgannwg website.


Cllr Jane Gebbie, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Social Services and Wellbeing said: “Caring for loved ones with dementia is a shared responsibility for everyone in our local communities. I commend the tireless efforts of the Alzheimer’s Society and local support organisations in raising awareness and providing vital information for people with dementia and their families. Together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment – with the aim of becoming a dementia-friendly county borough.”


Bridgend celebrates its foster friendly status during Foster Fortnight 2023

Every day in Wales there are five children in need of foster care. To raise the profile of fostering and show how foster care transforms lives, The Fostering Network (the UK’s leading fostering charity) runs an annual campaign, Foster Care Fortnight, which takes place from 15 – 28 May.

The purpose of this campaign is to celebrate foster carers, children of foster carers and care experienced young people in the fostering community, letting them know how vital and valued they are.

Foster Care Fortnight is an ideal time to say ‘thank you’ to existing carers, and Bridgend County Borough Council’s Foster Care Team have a programme of activities planned to celebrate their work.

On the first day of the campaign, Monday, 15 May, a team of professionals and experienced foster carers took to the streets of Porthcawl, Pyle, and Maesteg to raise awareness of foster caring in the hope of recruiting more foster carers from the local communities.

At the end of the first week, on Friday the 19 May, the Bridgend County Borough Council Foster Care Recognition Awards will take place at the Atlantic Hotel in Porthcawl. This will be a celebration of the achievements of some of the county borough’s most prevalent and longstanding foster carers and recognition of all the hard work of the whole foster care community.

We will also be illuminating the council’s Civic Offices in purple during the campaign, on the 19 and 25 of May, to show our support and express our gratitude to local foster carers.

During the second week a foster care walk is planned with Toby the Bear (the local team’s mascot). Bringing local foster carers, foster children, family, and friends together, to share experiences, and an opportunity to offer support and advice to one another.

In addition to these activities Bridgend County Borough Council has recently become a foster friendly employer to help encourage more people to become foster carers.

Created by The Fostering Network, the initiative has been developed to encourage employers to support fostering, and to support foster carers themselves.

By adopting a fostering friendly policy, employers who are foster carers are offered the opportunity to work flexibly, where possible and are provided with up to five days ‘foster carer’ leave. This can be used to help the child settle into their home, for example, attend relevant training and for emergency circumstances that may arise from their role as a foster parent.

The council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help, Cllr Jane Gebbie said: “Reaching out to local employers to become foster friendly is just one of many things we are doing to help our foster carers. We have recently launched the foster carer’s charter to show how we respect the role of foster carers, empower them for day-to-day decision making and value their vital knowledge of the child as part of our team.”

Having a visible presence in the local community and the support from residents during the fortnight can be highly effective. If you would like to know more about getting involved this fortnight and supporting your local foster care team, or if you would like to find out more about fostering for your local authority, please visit the Foster Wales Bridgend website.


Schools across the county borough do it again

Many of our local schools’ recent achievements are linked with the Siarter Iaith Cymraeg Campus – this provides schools with a framework to promote the Welsh language and a Welsh ethos across all areas of the school.  Schools are able to achieve either bronze, silver or gold awards for their efforts in following the framework.

Collaborating with other English-medium primary schools from across five local authorities, Afon-y-Felin Primary School is part of the Siarter Iaith Cymraeg Campus Working Party – a group producing quality resources to support other schools with the Siarter Iaith Cymraeg Campus Gold Award.

Garth Primary School, as well as Ffaldau Primary School, were both awarded support from the Dragon’s Den, following the schools’ efforts in developing a Welsh project for the popular Siarter Iaith Dragon’s Den.  Bryncethin Primary School, together with Corneli Primary School have both recently achieved their Siarter Iaith Cymraeg Campus Gold and Bronze Awards, respectively.

 Pencoed Primary School and Pencoed Comprehensive School have been championing Spanish, with both schools benefitting from an ongoing collaboration in building a 3 to 16 years continuum for Spanish – which also includes planned visits for the Year 9 Ambassadors to the Year 5 cohort at Pencoed Primary School every Tuesday.

Corneli Primary School’s success continues with its partnership with Bridgend Lifesavers Credit Union.   Following a successful savings club from 2015 to 2016, the school recently relaunched the Corneli Primary School Savings Scheme, encouraging the children to play an active role in the initiative, teaching them about the importance of saving.  With now over 140 members, including staff, Corneli Primary School has won a Credit Unions of Wales award for a video entry linked to its project, as well as been nominated for a Credit Unions of Wales School Partnership.

The school has been highlighted for developing the financial literacy of its pupils and wider community through the savings scheme.   The school case study is available on the Bridgend School Savings website, Bridgend School Savings – Corneli school case study.

Plasnewydd Primary School pupils in Maesteg have also been acknowledged for their example in mathematics, with combining creativity, literacy and numeracy skills this term by competing in the ‘Maths through stories’ worldwide competition.

Caerau Primary School has recently transformed a derelict area of its grounds through embracing the new curriculum, with its focus on the outside environment and group work. This new way of working has encouraged the pupils to take ownership of the land and to create the Caerau Nature Reserve – complete with its own wildlife pond. It has become an invaluable asset to the school, where the children can explore and investigate the opportunities of the natural world.

The life of Dr Richard Price, the famous philosopher, reformer and mathematician, born in 1723 in Llangeinor, has inspired a pupil-centred project undertaken by learners at Tynyrheol Primary School.  Learners have collaborated with the wider community, as well as scholars from across the world, to investigate Dr Price’s life and legacy. Some of the pupils’ favourite work has included creating 360° videos, canvas oil paintings of Dr Price, and investigating how his ideas changed the world.  The children and their work featured prominently in the Historical Society’s Exhibition in the Richard Price Centre and the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay.


Cllr Jon Paul Blundell, Cabinet Member for Education, said: “I am extremely proud of what schools have achieved and continue to accomplish. This fantastic work can only happen thanks to our committed staff, and of course, our eager learners.

“The accomplishments of these children have developed skills, as well as an attitude for learning, that they will carry with them throughout their lives.

“A huge thank you to all those who are shaping our young people’s lives for the better!”


Council statement on ‘15-minute neighbourhood’ concept

Unfortunately, a large amount of misinformation is currently circulating on social media concerning the ‘15-minute neighbourhood’ concept, including the inaccurate claim that authorities are seeking to use it to stop people travelling from their homes to anywhere that takes more than a quarter of an hour to get to.

In reality, the ‘15-minute neighbourhood’ is actually an international planning concept that tries to make it easier for people to access the services they need. The main idea behind it is this: no matter where we live, we should all be able to access basic amenities within a 15-minute walk or bike ride of our home.

It does not mean having to apply for a pass or seeking permission, for example, just because someone wants to drive down from Maesteg to enjoy an ice cream at Porthcawl, nor will we have to confine our movements to a single ‘zone’ or specific area as some have claimed.

A lot of the conspiracy theories associated with this issue appear to be based on how a proposed traffic scheme in Oxford has been misinterpreted. Designed to cut down on pollution and encourage greater use of public transport, that scheme involves fining drivers for using six major city roads during specific times – it does not prevent them from using alternative roads or stop them from travelling to wherever it is that they want to go.

The misinformation is also targeting councils who have signed up to the UK100 – this includes Bridgend County Borough Council and marks our commitment to achieving Net Zero status by 2030 – but the bottom line is simply this: 15-minute neighbourhoods aim to ensure that every resident has all the essentials they need (shops, healthcare, parks etc.) within a 15-minute walk or cycle ride of their home.

They are designed to support people and improve our quality of life by adding services and facilities within an area, and we would encourage residents to visit an independent fact-checking service – such as the charity www.fullfact.org – to find out more.