Cynefin's work in Swansea has focussed on the Penderry ward at the northern edge of the city. With a population of over 12,000, Penderry is better known as the communities of Blaenymaes, Portmead, Penplas and Penlan. Following discussions with service providers already working in Penderry wards, Cynefin's Place Co-ordinator Victoria Bancroft supported the set up of the Penderry Providers' Planning Forum/Network. This Forum plays a vital and otherwise overlooked role in increasing communications between organisations and ultimately making improvements for local residents.
The Forum has already formed a platform for a range of initiatives, through Cynefin and through direct connections between providers. New initiatives, eager to start work in the area, take the opportunity to promote themselves and often gain support, facilities and clients, fast-tracking their progress. Examples include Community First's LIFT project, Sustainable Swansea's Green Map, The Wales We Want's Big Conversation, Men's Sheds and the Council's Community Renewable Energy and Enterprise Scheme (CREES). The Forum provides a central intelligence hub about the area from which other more specifically themed activity can be developed, supported and integrated.
In 2013, Penderry-based organisations were the most successful applicants, attracting the largest share of the Council's then recently launched Grow Local Fund. Despite their proximity, these organisations were often unaware of each others' intentions to start food growing. Cynefin developed this awareness during discussions held to set up the Penderry Providers' Planning Forum. It then started to consider how it could assist food growers to share skills, knowledge and resources. Working in conjunction with the Council's Community Food and Growing Team, Cynefin organised a meeting to unite these groups and include other already established food growing enthusiasts. Meetings continued into the early part of the 2014 growing season, sharing practical advice and problem solving among members.
This emerged from very early questions about the area; how do people travel when public transport is limited and expensive, and why would people visit the area? A broad range of professionals gathered from transport, environmental and historical perspectives with further input needed from community engagement and the arts. Time was spent considering the expertise and resources available and the ways that these could integrate to give an holistic appreciation of place, enhancing social, economic and environmental improvement. This is still in a fledgling, idea development phase and will next need to share its vision with other Cynefin initiatives and local communities. It is an exciting investment in place visioning!
The group is finding practical multiagency solutions by sharing some of the acute issues facing particular organisations, primarily related to fly tipping and waste management. Landlords are sharing resources and methods, enforcement and compliance issues between agencies are being discussed, formal communication is changing resulting in earlier intervention through more co-operative solutions. As one enforcement officer, making observations about multiagency dialogue quoted 'Phenomenal! This hasn't happened in the 20 years that I've been working in this organisation!'