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Port Talbot Learning Hub – 17 months on from our launch!

Back on 7th October 2021, Adult Learning Wales celebrated the launch of its ‘Port Talbot Learning Hub’ at the Addison Road Workshops in Port Talbot, with a day of celebration and community gathering. In the intervening 17 months, much has happened at the Hub, in terms of curriculum and learner growth, as well as developments with the ‘Carpentry for All’ Branch, which operates from the site. New external partnerships have been formed with a variety of local and national organisations, and to give a flavour of what has been happening, we thought we’d share an update alongside our learners, who have been keen to provide feedback on their experiences!

‘Carpentry for All’ Branch

Membership continues to grow at pace, with classes being held 2 full days a week, on Mondays and Thursdays and 2 evenings per week, on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Members travel from across the county and beyond, to work on a variety of woodwork and woodcarving projects, as well as learning about pyrography, and using their skills to decorate wood in free-hand style. Whilst ‘woodwork, carving and carpentry’ lies at the heart of the provision at the Hub, members have been very keen to also join a series of ‘Flower Arranging Workshops’ which have proved a huge success, attracting new members to the Branch as a result.

 Examples of Members’ work:

Robert Ferris began with the Branch at its inception in 1980, along with Trevor Cross. At that time they did ceramics and carving. It replaced fishing as a hobby. Robert makes love spoons and used to sell them at St Fagan’s Museum.

Nina Prosser has recently been working on a relief carving, taken from a photograph of miners in a Llynfi Valley village. Nina likes the process of ‘revealing’, as a carving becomes what it wants to be – as you can’t always imagine what the piece could become. Nina says: “The PTLH has a very special place in my heart – I’ve experienced everything worth experiencing here: love, loss, friendship and learning”

Jacki started coming to the Branch about 14 months ago, and heard through word of mouth. She has made a variety of things including bird houses, a welly stand and a garden gate. Recently, Jacki introduced Louise, her friend, to the Branch. They come to socialise and because they enjoy woodworking together. They have found that everyone is helpful, and everybody is made to feel very welcome. They notice that everyone is able to make groups of friends, regardless of who they are and where they are from.

“It is good to come with your own ideas of what to do” says Jacki. Both Jacki and Louise identify the session as being a hobby for them. Jacki has recently introduced Louise to pyrography for the first time, with support from Volunteer Tutor and Chair of the Branch, Derek Edwards. Photos: 

Lynn Ball, another Branch Member says: “The best thing I ever did was to join the Hub after retirement and the loss of my wife. the friendly banter and camaraderie, and gaining of knowledge saw me through a difficult time.”

‘School-Link’ Classes

ALW works closely with the ‘Cynnydd Project’ (operated by NPT Council) in the delivery of an ‘alternative’ curriculum to pupils in Years 10 and 11, who are interested in developing their skills in carpentry and woodwork. 7 partner schools from across the county currently take part, and all pupils are engaged in accredited learning opportunities.

‘Community Classes’

A range of ‘Flower Arranging’ Workshops, ‘Craft’ Workshops and ‘National Emblems of Wales through Wood’ Workshops run on a carousel basis throughout the year, and these have attracted many people from all walks of life, interested in developing their practical skills and supporting their interests and general health and wellbeing.

Going forward, we can share that we are currently planning new developments to our curriculum offer, in the subject areas of Furniture and Fashion Upcycling, and as soon as we are able to share more, we will let you know!

We are delighted to see how the Hub continues to change people’s lives, and support them on a range of personal journeys. If you would like more details about the Hub, or how you can get involved in community classes or join the ‘Carpentry for All’ Branch, please contact the following colleagues, who will be more than happy to speak with you:

For ‘Carpentry for All’ Branch enquiries – Mr Derek Edwards (Chair) – 07866089373

For ‘Community Classes’ enquiries – The Office Staff – (01639) 894927

Click here for information about Adult Learning Wales ‘Branches’.

Click here to see more photos on our Facebook page. 

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