The Countess of Wessex has given Teilo’s Community Cwtch the royal seal of approval at its official opening this afternoon.
Praising the £1m Faith in Families centre, both for the work it does and the support it offers, the Countess said she “wished she could make a virtual photocopy” of the Cwtch, so it could be replicated throughout the UK.
The centre was full for the ceremony, with guests including Archbishop of Wales John Davies and the leader of Swansea council Rob Stewart.
The Countess was given a tour of the Cwtch’s play rooms and community café and met staff, volunteers and many of those who use the centre’s services.
Also there to greet her were members of the Mothers’ Union of Swansea and Brecon, and the architects from Hurley & Davies and builders Interserve who made the project a reality.
Unveiling a special plaque to mark the occasion, the Countess said: “It’s a very vibrant centre you have here, so clearly you’re doing something very right. You’re very lucky to have had Cherrie and people who have vision and soul who wanted to do this, and to have those who are willing to continue it. It’s a brilliant, brilliant idea, and I wish you every success with it.”
The Cwtch – which includes play rooms, a youth centre and community café – is housed in St Teilo’s Church in Portmead. The space has been donated by the Church in Wales for 99 years and more than £1m in funding has come from BIG Lottery People and Places, the Welsh Government’s Communities Facilities Programme, Garfield Weston Foundation, Bernard Sunley Foundation and the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon.
It provides a family centre, parent and toddler sessions, high scope play group, healthy family lunches, after-school clubs, holiday play schemes, adult courses and breakfast club.
The CEO of Faith in Families, Cherrie Bija, said: “We’re proud of the work we do in each of our community cwtches because we make an incredible difference to children’s and families’ lives in the area.
“Even though we’re battling against cuts and austerity, we can see the real changes that can be made, with the help of our passionate staff.”
Cwtch manager Leanne Evans said: “We’ve got a really good partnership with St Teilo’s Church, and that’s something which is really strong and helps the community to become one. They’ve given us their church and allowed this to happen because they are so passionate about their community.
“As well as working with children and families we’re now also working with people from the church, providing sessions for them.”
Archbishop John Davies said: “Today is a wonderful day for the community and for the parish of St Teilo’s. It’s the end of a quite a rocky road because there have been issues about the future of Faith in Families and funding security. That seems to be okay in the short term but, when you see this place, you can see it would be such a tragedy if this place had to be shut down.
“The Countess of Wessex’s visit – her second visit after she opened the Clase centre a few years ago – is a real sign of affirmation.”
At the end of her visit, the Countess was presented with an embroidered poem by Gaynor Williams, a member of the Mothers’ Union.