Last year, a popular documentary filmed at a day centre in Caernarfon was a predominant talking point amongst Gwynedd’s residents. Hen Blant Bach, shown on S4C, was a hit, and with a sigh of relief, I am glad to see it returning to our screens this year.
Sparking interest, and igniting imagination, the programme offered the public an insight into our day centres, showing a remarkable relationship developing between the old and the young. As part of the Scheme, I jumped at the opportunity to visit our care homes, and day centres, and to spend time in the company of Gwynedd’s oldest residents.
I was lucky enough to visit a number of day centres and residential homes in Caernarfon, Criccieth, Nefyn and Llanberis, and received a warm welcome everywhere. It was a great opportunity to learn, and experience life along with the attendees and employees. The care and service that these individuals receive is extremely valuable, and the staff are always aiming to put “the people of Gwynedd first”. From art and craft workshops, to playing bingo, dance and singing sessions, mild exercise, and a chance to chat among friends, communities are formed in these centres.
The workers were kind, friendly and patient, developing a good relationship with each individual. Although the workers have much to do, from paperwork, to organising events, there is a relaxed and homely atmosphere in every organisation, with the workers listening and chatting with the individuals and encouraging them to take part in activities . It was a privilege to have an insight into the lives of the individuals, learn about the difficulties and obstacles they face every day, and see how precious is the service they receive. At the end of each day, I felt sad to leave the hustle and bustle of the centres and homes, keeping a few characters with me forever.
Testing front-line services outlines everyday challenges, but also shows the difference that hard work can do to the life and well-being of individuals, which reminds me why I’m eager to be a part of Gwynedd Council’s services in the first place.
Only the highlights of my experiences are summarised here, and there is so much more that I could say about what I’ve seen and learned. Some council services are far from perfect, but it was a privilege to have a service that makes a difference to individuals, and to ensure that we “put the people of Gwynedd at the centre of everything we do”.