Cymru Can – who’s who
Cymru Can is our seven-year strategy for driving positive change in Wales for now and for the future.
Our missions won’t be possible without the growing movement for change in Cymru – the people and ideas striving to meet the ambitions of the Well-being of Future Generations Act as well as those whose stories highlight the need for better implementation and impact of our well-being goals.
Below is a short summary of some of the people and projects that appear in our video, Cymru Can, in order of appearance.
Thanks to everyone in Wales for all your hard work in putting the WFGA into action and for always advocating for a better Wales for current and future generations.
Restore the Thaw
Restore the Thaw is a landscape project aiming to restore nature networks in and around the River Thaw in the Vale of Glamorgan, connecting local wildlife, landowners and the community with the land.
Funded by Nature Networks National Lottery Heritage Fund and Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Project Zero, the project has big plans – including to plant 40,000 trees over the next few years and release wildlife such as 900 European eels, and 150 Water Voles, working with more than 18 local primary schools in the Vale. From tree planting to an upcoming river festival and free sessions on water testing to identifying fungi, the project involves local people in solving the challenges that wildlife faces in its natural habitats and already has over 100 volunteers.
Jacob Briscombe, assistant ranger at Porthkerry Park, said: “It’s a project with the WFGA at its heart.”
Samantha Egelstaff co-founded Llanrwst Flood Action Group, in the wake of devastation to her community by 2020’s Storm Ciara. The group produced a powerful poem: Ymgodi o’r Gaeaf/Emerging from Winter, with our Poet in Residence, 2021-2022, Taylor Edmonds. Read by Ysgol Bro Gwydir pupils, it highlights the plight of flooding upon our communities and the collaborative effort to protect them. Samantha is part of our 2023 Future Generations Changemaker 100.
Samantha said: “When the valley floods, the train line here often closes, further impacting on people trying to travel. We’re losing people from our rural areas. They shouldn’t have to move away.”
Natalie Evans is Campaign Co-ordinator working within the four Trussell Trust foodbanks within Rhondda Cynon Taf, where her volunteering team involves people with lived experience of food poverty.
Natalie is running a new campaign aiming to secure free school meals for all children with no recourse to public funds. She said: “Schools have informed us of children pulling out a carrot as their packed lunch, taking bread and butter as a meal and taking food home from school for their siblings. We can do better than that.”
Esther and Samuel
Esther is a foodbank volunteer. The mum-of-three, including 10-year-old Samuel, moved from Nigeria to Treforest in 2020 and is one of thousands of people with no recourse to public funds, living in RCT. The NRPF condition prevents a person subject to immigration control from accessing a range of welfare benefits except in a very limited number of cases. This condition means many people with NRPF are forced to use food banks. Over the course of one year, the four foodbanks within RCT have fed 1173 people with NRPF, 529 of them are children.
Esther, who studies project management at university, said: “I want to be a part of the community, I want to contribute to society, but there are so many barriers in the way.”
Ophelia Dos Santos
Ophelia Dos Santos is a member of our Future Generations Leadership Academy, which has trained more than 80 people aged 18-30 in the Well-being of Future Generations Act and is integral to our mission to improve the implementation of the legislation.
Ophelia is a textile designer, researcher and educator and works from the Cardiff Bay workshop she shared with her late grandfather, Mike, who was a carpenter. She has been sewing since she was a child, and her work considers the relationships between fabric, culture and communities.
The founder of Decoded Climate, climate action led by Black, Brown and underrepresented Welsh people, aims to use collaboration to open and inform dialogue around climate justice and equality, the over-consumption and waste of the modern-day fashion industry.
Alex Galleozzie is a fourth year apprentice electrician at Merthyr Valley Homes, who joined their Brighter Futures scheme via a six-week programme which allowed him to experience different trades-based occupations. Alex secured an apprenticeship with Merthyr Valleys Homes and has been training to become a fully qualified electrician.
Brighter Futures “You and Your Career” strand delivers all aspects of employability support, career mentoring, work experience schemes and employment-based skills and training to tenants and members of the community.
Alex carries out electrical installation duties on a daily basis, and his projects have included Merthyr Valleys Homes’ recent Honeysuckle Close development in Gurnos, where a total of six Passivhaus units were installed. The sustainable homes are designed for longevity and high performance, are energy efficient and low carbon. They respond positively to a changing climate (overheating and cooling) due to the innovative design and lightweight structure.
Working for the Good Practice Exchange Team (GPX) at Audit Wales, Alex Swift from Newport, South Wales, creates podcasts and helps run events to share unique ideas and good practice from across Wales. Alex is also on our Future Generations Leadership Academy.
He said: “Being autistic, I am particularly passionate about neurodiversity activism, and protecting spaces where people can find welcoming communities, or access support. I want to use my position as a future leader to champion these community assets and work for greater dignity for neurodiverse and disabled people, in all aspects of our lives.”
The Office of the Future Generations Commissioner and Audit Wales are refreshing the MoU to continue building on our strong working relationships, so that we can effectively challenge public bodies to go further in implementing the Act.
Awel Aman Tawe
Awel Aman Tawe (AAT) is a community energy charity in the former coal valleys of South Wales co-founded by Emily Hinshelwood (pictured) and Dan McCallum. AAT have set up Awel Co-op (a 4.7MW community windfarm) and Egni Co-op (a 5MW rooftop solar coop), the two largest renewable energy co-ops in Wales.
The co-ops are backed by more than 1,500 people via community share offers with a hundred solar sites including schools, community buildings and businesses. The sites save hundreds per year in electricity bills and thousands in CO2 emissions. All the surplus goes into AAT’s Climate Change Education Programme in schools and to support community resilience.
AAT is getting ready to open Hwb y Gors, a former school in Cwmgors which is being refurbished as a low- carbon arts, education and enterprise centre. Dan and Emily are part of our 2023 Future Generations Changemaker 100.
Ann MacGarry is a retired sustainability educator who has worked with the Centre for Alternative Technology and Size of Wales. She is a councillor on Machynlleth Town Council – the first town in Wales to declare a climate emergency in 2019.
Ann is also the Vice Chair of Ecodyfi – a not for profit organisation that has been fostering and supporting a greener economy and community in the Dyfi valley and the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere area for more than 20 years.
Julie Gordon and The River Music Project
The River Music Project is a multicultural participatory music and visual arts project based in the heart of Riverside, Cardiff. It was set up after gaps in creative provision for people, especially the under 14s, were identified by founder Nick Lewis, and has since seen participants create three songs for the school curriculum in Arabic, Hindi and Mandinka, in collaboration with Welsh Government and online teaching programme, Cansing.
The project provides inclusive arts opportunities for people of all ages and supports musicians and artists from diverse communities to promote greater understanding of each others’ music while developing their own art. Free ukulele, piano, drama, dance, drumming, Bollywood and art classes are provided for children and families. An upcoming EP features participating artists and they’ve just written the score for a new animation film.
Every year, the project, which works closely with South Riverside Community Development Centre, curates the Riverside Festival, and artists have performed throughout Wales over the past three years in venues including Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Story Museum and at the 40th Anniversary of St David’s Hall.
Julie Gordon is a singer, song writer and artist based in Riverside, who contributes to the project’s Caribbean Forum, celebrating her own cultural roots in a gospel reggae ensemble. Julie’s songs, she says, are about hope and peace.
Nelly Adam, AKA Queen Niche
Nelly Adam, AKA Queen Niche, is a consultant, public speaker, humanitarian activist and spoken word artist from Cardiff. Nelly fights for equality and justice for all, with a dream to empower future generations to use their voice and find their niche.
She said: “Cardiff is a diverse city and owning your own Identity and feeling like you belong is extremely important to inclusion. Inspiring people to use their voices and share their stories will enable us to grow together with understanding as a nation.”
Yusuf Ismail is the co-founder of UNIFY, a Welsh creative studio with a mission to make the creative industry in Wales more inclusive and accessible. UNIFY work with buildings in the capital to promote inclusivity, including My City, My Shirt, depicting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents in the Cardiff City FC shirt.
One of their latest pieces (seen in the video) is a collaboration with Cardiff Council and the UK Home Office, as part of a Safer Streets campaign that seeks to tackle violence towards women and girls by making our streets safer. Unify transformed a neglected underpass surrounded by busy roads opposite Cardiff Castle, having lighting installed and brightening the tunnel via a celebration in paint, of women who make and enjoy music.
The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)
The Centre for Alternative Technology, CAT, is an educational charity based in Machynlleth, dedicated to researching and communicating positive solutions for environmental change.
The CAT eco centre is surrounded by nature in the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere on the edge of Eryri National Park, with edible gardens, woodlands and a wide range of green buildings.
The team speaks to government and campaigners about policies that would help create a zero carbon Britain, provides postgraduate degrees and short courses in all aspects of sustainability, and hosts a wide range of schools, colleges, community groups and other organisations, providing skills, knowledge and inspiration to help people take action on climate change and biodiversity.
Paul Allen, Knowledge and Outreach Coordinator, features in our film alongside Eileen Kinsman, co-CEO.
Eileen said: “Change isn’t happening fast enough. Finance is not the only barrier to action on climate change – it’s mindset and beliefs, political will and social change. CAT has been researching and sharing ways of addressing environmental challenges for 50 years now. We know we have the technology to get to net zero, but without a shift in mindset, we won’t get the change we need. The Well-being of Future Generations Act has an amazing reputation internationally. You’ve had a great start – now we need to focus on how we engage hearts and minds and accelerate the pace of change.”
Ruth Fabby MBE
Ruth Fabby MBE, from Dolgarrog, is a playwright and short story writer with a record of advocating for disabled and deaf people’s inclusion in the creative industries. For three years, she worked as Artistic Director at two national award-winning disability arts organisations and championed the importance of disabled people’s rights as human rights and articulates the links between art and social change. Ruth Fabby is on our Future Generations Changemaker 100 list.
Sam Hickman is a singing harpist, showgirl, comedienne, storyteller, theatre producer, composer and writer, known for her performances at venues ranging from The Moon on Womanby Street to Wales Millennium Centre and Sherman Theatre. She’s also a keen gardener, allotment holder and sewer. She’s passionate about sustainable practices, community building and active travel.
The film is recorded at Câr-y-Môr, Wales’ first community-owned, regenerative seaweed and shellfish farm, an example of how people wanting to change the world are using the WFGA to challenge and break down barriers.
The community benefits society based in St David’s, Pembrokeshire used the Act to appeal a short-term marine license. The appeal was successful and now they have a 20-year license to produce sustainable Welsh seaweed and farm native oysters and mussels off the coast at Ramsey Sound.
Justin Davies, marine licenses manager, said: “The Well-being of Future Generations Act was the key piece of legislation that we relied on in our appeal.”
Câr-y-Môr also supplies seaweed for plastic alternatives, including takeaway boxes that are fully biodegradable.