Academi Hywel Teifi set to open a multi-purpose Welsh language centre in the Swansea Valley, following a £300,000 funding boost

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The First Minister, Carwyn Jones, has announced today (Wednesday, June 3) that six new Welsh Language Centres and Learning Spaces to promote the use of the language across Wales are to be created with the support of over £1.5 million Welsh Government Capital Funding.

Through the Bwrw Mlaen Capital Investment Grant 2015-16, Swansea University's Academi Hywel Teifi will work with Neath Port Talbot Council in order to establish and run a dynamic language centre in Pontardawe that will allow the people in the Swansea Valley area to live, learn and enjoy their Welsh, making the Welsh language a visible part of daily life. The centre will operate as a hub for education and learning, social activities and programmes for children and young people, community events, a book shop, and office space.

Academi Hywel Teifi Academi Hywel Teifi is a unique institute established by Swansea University in 2010 in memory of Professor Hywel Teifi Edwards, a former Professor of Welsh at the university. There are three elements to the work of Academi Hywel Teifi: it is a centre of excellence for studying the Welsh language and its literature, it promotes Welsh-medium teaching and research across the subjects offered by the university, and it works to ensure a greater status for the language in all aspects of the university's life and in south-west Wales. The South-West Wales Welsh for Adults Centre is also situated within the Academi.

Following today’s funding announcement, Dr Gwenno Ffrancon, Director of Academi Hywel Teifi, said: "Currently there is no Canolfan Gymraeg in either the Swansea Valley or anywhere in Neath Port Talbot County Borough. The funding will allow Academi Hywel Teifi working in partnership with Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, schools, Welsh medium organisations and institutions working locally to create a formal, visible and permanent base for Welsh language activities outside of school settings, something which research carried out by Academi Hywel Teifi has recognised is a determining factor in the success of learning Welsh effectively and for ensuring that young people continue to use Welsh after leaving education.

Cymraeg  "The 2011 Census revealed that the language in the Swansea Valley especially is losing ground as a community language and as such has been included as part of a larger cross boundary area of special linguistic significance, where there is evidence both of conspicuous language shift and a reduction in the use of Welsh by young people. The establishment of a Canolfan Gymraeg in Pontardawe would thus be a timely and strategic intervention to arrest the decline of the language further in this area.”

“To develop a community education programme for Welsh speakers of all ages and to support learners has always been an integral part of Academi Hywel Teifi’s vision. The centre will be at the heart of that work, and we look forward to working with partners to support Welsh communities in the Swansea Valley and surrounding areas, and young people in particular.”

Other projects that will receive support from the Bwrw Mlaen grant include:

  • Ynys Môn Council to develop a communications hub for young people.
  • Cardiff City Council to transform the Old Library in the Hayes into a multi-purpose Welsh Language Centre.
  • Ceredigion County Council to develop a latecomers’ immersion centre in Tregaron that would also serve as a centre for the wider community.
  • Gwynedd Council to create a multi-purpose Welsh Language Centre in the heart of Bangor.
  • Coleg Ceredigion to develop a multi-purpose centre in Aberteifi.

Since August 2014, the Capital Investment Grant has supported the development of ten new Welsh Language Centres across Wales.

The First Minister said: “I am delighted to be able to announce that six new Welsh Language centres will be created across Wales with the support of over £1.5m of capital funding. Increasing the use of the Welsh Language in daily life is at the centre of our vision within Bwrw Mlaen. The development of these multi-purpose language centres and learning spaces will play a key role in achieving that.

“These centres will provide wide ranging opportunities for people of all ages to use, practice and enjoy the language at grass roots level. Already we’ve seen some exciting centres being developed across Wales thanks to the Capital Investment grant, demonstrating our commitment to seeing the language thrive in our communities. I look forward to seeing how the six projects I’m announcing today develop over the coming months.” 

Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council Cllr Ali Thomas OBE, added: “Neath Port Talbot Council is again pleased to be working in partnership with Swansea University to secure a centre in the Swansea Valley that will support and promote Welsh language activities. This reinforces our commitment to work with partners to deliver a vibrant and strategic programme that will contribute to the promotion of the language beyond the classroom and other formal settings”.