Amplify Cymru is a programme of interconnected research and innovation support funded by the Welsh Government. Amplify Cymru helps people take action together to create fairer communities where everyone can thrive.
Our new research into the lived experience of over 350 people in three Welsh communities; Port Talbot, Connah’s Quay and Aberystwyth shows that people have a strong connection to the places they live and care deeply about their town’s features like beaches, rivers and parks. These connections provide a strong sense of belonging and shared community pride. They also have many supportive networks and people care for each other. These findings stand in stark contrast to the dominant narratives which present them as places of remoteness or in industrial decline.
However, people in these communities also experience many inequalities including:
- Feeling that those from outside hold negative perceptions of their places, and of the people who live there
- Feeling that they are not involved in big decisions about policy and investment in their areas
- Geographical isolation which affects people’s abilities to meet their needs or pursue opportunities
- Feeling socially isolated in other places where opportunities lie because of their close connection to a specific place
- Differences in income and stability of employment
But people are also taking action to make their places better for those that live there. The research found that each town is brimming with charity, action, goodwill, and social innovation. But there are challenges to this including many people not knowing that they are able to ask for support, or how to ask, and external structural factors, such as the accessibility of sources of support and funding.
Recommendations from the research include:
- Knowing how people in places experience inequality should be a primary concern of policymakers and development agencies.
- Promoting counter-narratives to deprivation and decline is really important, balanced with recognising challenges and problems where they do exist
- Allocation of resources needs to be better targeted to meet community aims.
- Policy makers need to recognise, celebrate and amplify the actions which people are already taking, including those which are small-scale and loosely formed.
- Local networks need to be established as a priority to help encourage, train, mentor and connect people together who want to take local action.
- Decision-makers and influencers need to be working with communities in different ways, away from things being ‘done to’, to co-creating new solutions to existing problems.