As 2022 comes to an end, members of the Hub Cymru Africa staff share their highlights from a challenging, eventful and productive year.
“After two years of remote working and virtual summits, we held three regional “mini-summit” events in July called #SummerUndod (using a blended bilingual name incorporating the English word “Summer” and the Welsh word “Undod”, which translates to “Solidarity”). Each event had a specific theme and featured stalls from Welsh International Solidarity groups, musicians from the African diaspora and some delicious African food.
The South-East’s #SummerUndod2022 took place in the Grange Pavilion, a beautifully green and vibrant community space that supports community-led projects. The theme for this event was Climate Justice and we held a virtual link with the Bumaena women’s group in Uganda, supported by Size of Wales to hear how climate change is impacting their community. In North Wales at Storiel, Bangor, we celebrated women in leadership with three amazing women speakers from the Wales and Africa community: Dr Salamatu Fada from the North Wales Africa Society and Tallafi; Maggie Ogunbanwo from Maggie’s African Twist; and Wanjiku Mbugua from BAWSO. Finally, the South-West’s #SummerUndod was held in Swansea’s sunny Theatre Grand, where the focus was on Sustainable Livelihoods. Key messages from this event included: diversification is a vital part of sustainable livelihoods, and will be even more important in the future; communities must be included in the planning of new projects that affect them, especially women, as they often have the most to gain; and producers should have a platform to tell their own stories.
All attendees rated the events as either an excellent or good use of their time and the ability to network was considered one of the most important things gained from the events. We hope to enable more opportunities to build connections and strengthen collaboration in 2023.”
—Beth Kidd, Senior Development Support Manager
“As we reflect on the past year, we want to celebrate the increased engagement Hub Cymru Africa has had with the African partners of Welsh-based charities. Organisations in African countries have joined their Welsh partners to attend Hub Cymru Africa’s training courses and networking events, as well as significantly contributing to our Communities of Practice. African insights and perspectives have helped the sector in Wales better understand different ways of working as well as appreciating afresh the advantages of in-country-led initiatives and ambitions.
We have seen relationships between Welsh-based charities and organisations based in African countries strengthen and their shared understanding increase as they take part in informal wider discussions on a range of themes. Finally, we are delighted to see (as always) collaboration amongst Welsh-based charities in our network, but we are further pleased to see that African-led organisations, who met at our events, are connecting, sharing knowledge directly with each other, independent of partnerships in Wales.”
—Lena Fritsch, Development Support Manager
“We’ve been delighted to introduce seven new volunteers to six Wales-Africa groups so far this year, and support them as they increase the groups’ capacity and learn about the sector. In addition, a particular highlight was being able to bring together a tutor of a youth photography workshop looking for real life opportunities for his participants, with Karuna Himalaya, a fair trade enterprise needing images of their new range of knitted accessories from Nepal.”
—Cathie Jackson, Volunteering and Support Coordinator
“We have supported groups across Wales to make better use of digital tools in their work with partners in Africa. Fifty people attended workshops, webinars and development support sessions to learn about getting communities online and using digital tools for collaboration and education. We also gave small grants to 13 groups supporting schools, women’s groups and community enterprises. Projects supported included digital literacy training, education links, enterprise development and digital communications. We are grateful to The Waterloo Foundation for funding this work.”
—Julian Rosser, Development Support Manager
“This year, as part of the Springboard for learning project, Hub Cymru Africa piloted Action Learning Sets as a simple and powerful way for practitioners in global solidarity to work collaboratively on challenges facing them in their work. Interested graduates of the Hub Cymru Africa Advanced Mentoring Programme were introduced to the action learning cycle of presenting an issue to peers, having feedback and questions, reflecting, learning, and putting that into action.
Six Wales Africa community members participated in a programme of 8 sessions, facilitated by an expert volunteer (thanks, Jackie!). The programme finished with an evaluation in December, the results of which will be published early next year. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with participants stating that the ALS had helped them to build connections with others sharing similar challenges, had reduced isolation, built confidence and introduced them to a tool which they could apply in other areas of their work.
We will be sharing fuller information about the pilot ALS in the new year, but for now you can register your interest in participating in a future Action Learning set.”
—Emma Beacham, Development Support Manager
“Fair Trade Wales has had an incredibly busy and successful year. Starting with Fairtrade Fortnight 2022, we highlighted the intersection of climate, race and fashion, whilst also partnering with community groups to highlight climate change’s impact on farmers. Our capacity as a team has grown and is reflective in our new Trade Justice Wales project and execution of various Fairtrade events. A key highlight of the past year has been working on the Social Partnership and Public Procurement Bill (Wales). As a part of a third sector coalition, we are aiming to ensure global responsibility in the Bill. As we look ahead to the next year, we are excited for our Fairtrade Fortnight 2023 plans, rolling out the new Fair Trade Nation criteria and celebrating 15 years of Wales as a Fair Trade Nation!”
—Kadun Rees, Community and Communications Officer, Fair Trade Wales