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School shares community hub success story

A school that has breathed new life into a community hall in its grounds has been asked to share the success story with the rest of Wales.

Craigfelen School community hub

Craigfelen School community hub

Between 40 and 50 people can regularly be found using the café that is now run at the hall by pupils at Craigfelen Primary School.

It is just one of a number of uses for the building since it changed hands with more exciting ideas to follow.

Headteacher Alison Williams said the community was in need of a safe communal space where residents would feel welcomed to attend and participate in regular events.

Working with Swansea Council and having secured a grant from  Welsh Government then the school stepped in.

But rather than decide what was needed it asked the community and its own pupils what they wanted and this has been behind the success.

Mrs Williams said: "There were worries from the community, that with the school taking over the space, it was going to be used as another classroom. We had to win the trust of the community to show them that this space is for everyone."

Pupils have taken ownership of the café and develop valuable skills including numeracy, reading, marketing and communication.

They also learn workplace skills, such as counting money, using tills and stocking food supplies, as well as developing the confidence to communicate with people of all ages and backgrounds and the importance of healthy and nutritious meals.

Deputy Head, Jamie Taylor, said: "For the community to see the children running something, really has brought a positive rhythm to the community, everyone is interested and wants to get involved. To see forty or fifty people in the hall at any given time, really shows how far we've come."

As well as the café the hall has a wide variety of other uses including health and wellbeing classes,  a community kitchen and for cooking classes , a pay as you want shop, holiday clubs, parent and child groups  and arts and crafts classes.

The transformation has been such that it is being used as a case study by the Welsh Government for its Community Focused Schools initiative.

There are more suggestions and ideas being made and more volunteers want to sign up and get involved.

There is hope that in the future the space can be independently run by members of the community and continuously used for many years to come. 

Mr Taylor added: "It is great to see the community working together and it's creating lasting memories for the children. That's what we're trying to create here for many generations to come."

Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Learning, Robert Smith, said: "I'd like to congratulate all involved at Craigfelen Primary School on this exciting community project and I'm pleased it is being shared by the Welsh Government as good practice."

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