Dŵr Cymru, the only not-for-profit water company in Wales and England, Eden Gate Homeless Centre and the Literacy Trust unveiled an inventive literacy programme in Newport, aiming to address the often-overlooked challenge of adult literacy, aiming to enrich the lives of the community’s most vulnerable.
Fran, Operations Manager at the Eden Gate Centre, comments on the conception of the idea:
“We’ve been on a journey that brought us to a place where we came up with a slogan: You might be homeless, but you’re not helpless. We want to help you to help yourself.”
For Dwr Cymru, this initiative falls under the Water Resilient Communities Project, a place-based approach that challenging colleagues to develop meaningful partnerships, trial innovative approaches, and use local insight to inform their activities. Bringing together vulnerable customer, education, career, debt, water efficiency and wastewater network support in a co-ordinated manner, it has strong links to the well-being of future generations and involves and intensive presence in areas of high deprivation.
This initiative involved the Education Team at Dwr Cymru, who are normally more accustomed to delivering the company’s Education Programme in schools. By joining forces with the Literacy Trust and the Eden Gate Centre, and with the support of a generous donation of books from Tesco, guests now have an opportunity and a safe place for reading, having received dedicated support in reading, spelling, and comprehension. These sessions were also co-produced, ensuring citizen involvement and responsibility in the planning process, to ensure access to meaningful support.
One grateful guest remarked, “I missed out, as a child, on a lot. So this is what I really need. Give me a book, I’ll struggle.”
Claire Roberts, Head of Community Engagement at Dŵr Cymru, says:
“Real community engagement is about understanding the challenges – co-creating, and collaborating to address the unique needs of the communities we serve. That comes through strongly with this piece of work and the wider Water Resilient Communities approach.”
The work with the Eden Gate Centre has also involved other services from Dŵr Cymru, who have offered vulnerable customer tariff support, water efficiency audit at the centre, and community funding, in addition to the literacy support, helping to highlight the transformational potential of dedicated community collaboration.