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Post-pandemic adventure boost for isolated children thanks to railway grant

THRILLSEEKING young people were given a post-pandemic boost after long periods in self isolation and lockdown.

Conwy District Scouts organised a raft of adventurous activities for more than 170 children with highly trained instructors at sites across North Wales.

Supported by funding from Conwy Valley and North West Wales Coast Community Rail Partnership and Transport for Wales (TfW), representatives from groups in Llandudno, Betws-y-Coed, Abergele, Old Colwyn, Colwyn Heights, Rhos-on-Sea, Llanfairfechan and Conwy took part in the free scheme.

Sessions including archery, canoeing, kayaking, mining, hill walking and dry skiing were enjoyed by boys and girls from the Squirrels, Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, and Explorer Scouts, ranging from four to 18 years old.

Ray Barnett, lead instructor on the scheme, thanked the community rail partnership for helping to rebuild young people’s confidence in the wake of Covid-19.

“During the pandemic we were unable to deliver all of the activities we usually hold throughout the year, which was challenging for all of us, especially the children and their parents,” said Ray.

“Covid-19 had such a big impact on their confidence and the social lives of these young people, it was vital we got them outside, learning and enjoying themselves with their friends as soon as we were able to, and that we could make this gesture of support to parents and our young people given the economic hurdles of the last few years.

“With the much-needed support of Conwy Valley and North West Wales Coast Community Rail Partnership and TfW we were able to do so successfully; our biggest challenge now is finding more volunteers to help us, given the waiting list to join Conwy District Scouts is growing all the time.

“And it’s a 50/50 split of boys and girls, which is fantastic to see and shows there is a real appetite among young people to be sociable and make new friends.

“We are just pleased to continue delivering these sessions, and to have been able to thank all of the groups for their loyalty and allowing us to work in partnership to rebuild their mental and physical health and wellbeing following such a difficult time.”

Community Rail Officer Karen Williams added: “We are delighted to have been able to play a part in bringing back these activities and to hear what a positive impact they’ve had on so many people in the community.

“We encourage other organisations across the North West Wales region to get in touch if they would like to find out more on how we can help them.”

Funding is available to community organisations located within a five-mile radius of a Transport for Wales (TfW) station along the Conwy Valley and North West Wales coastal lines (Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog, and Llandudno Junction to Holyhead).

A new round of funding begins this week and runs until mid-October, with up to £1000 available. There is also Greener Initiative Funding programme where groups within a one-mile radius of a TfW station in the above areas can apply for up to £500.

For more information, visit www.mantellgwynedd.com or call 01286 672626. Alternatively, follow them on social media at @mantellgwynedd.