A PROJECT aimed at bringing communities together and tackling loneliness in rural areas around Cardigan continues to go from strength-to-strength.

Compassionate Communities is a three-year scheme run by Arts4wellbeing which has set up bilingual creative drop-in hub groups, run for the community by the community.

Five hubs are now successfully running – Ferwig, Llechryd, Coedybryn, Gorsgoch and the latest at Aberporth – and the numbers involved is growing.

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales Heléna Herklots was a recent visitor to the Aberporth group to see for herself the positive effects of the scheme.

Sara Wentworth, from Arts4wellbeing, said: “The project covers a wide span of ages from six to 94 years old and supports people with responsibility for caring, people living with life-limiting conditions, stroke survivors, people living with dementia, people coping with loss and bereavement, people living with poor mental health.

“Compassionate Communities actively supports people to overcome barriers to participation, learn new skills, develop increased confidence, develop a more positive sense of self and others, develop new friendship networks, engage with creative play and happiness, thus improving health and reducing isolation.

“We work closely with the falls and frailty team as well as the third sector and we aim to create sustainable volunteer-led hubs which support a wide range of folks to share their stories, share their skills and experiences with others, learn new skills and provide a good dose of fun and laughter every week.”

Welsh Government has chosen the project to explore as a model of best practice, one of 10 projects across Wales for case study into volunteer-led projects which reduce isolation.

The programme also works closely with other organisations, while GP referrals to the scheme are becoming increasingly common.

“People are facing a lot more difficulties and our role is to create an environment to share each other’s company and for people to realise that life is good and they have things to offer and can connect with each other,” added Arts4wellbeing’s Mike Hooton.

“That can be achieved through all sorts of creative activity and it is great to see groups develop and flourish. In the first week everyone can be so self-conscious but by week three or four people have shifted and by the end of a 10-week course they can be so different as you see their character and personality come through.”