Tuesday 26 August 2014

Grants II - Therapeutic and Emotional Support

Update 27 August

As we can see from the comments below, views of YMCA Llandovery differ sharply. It has certainly received a great deal of money in the last few years, and it is reasonable that this should come under scrutiny.

Someone who knows Jill Tatman well and whose judgement I respect has been in touch to say that she has worked very hard to serve Llandovery for the last 25 years.

As Jac's article contains detailed claims, it seems that the best way of clearing up any misunderstandings would be for YMCA Llandovery to respond and exercise its right of reply on that blog.


We interrupt this series to report breaking news over on Jac o' the North's blog. For those not familiar with Jac it will probably suffice to say that Cneifiwr and Jac don't always see eye to eye on politics, but the old boy has an annoying habit of being right, at least some of the time.

The latest revelations concern YMCA Wales and the YMCA in Llandovery in particular, with its "Jesus Cares" foodbox distribution programme that one very well-informed source reckons must rival Ocado* in size and reach - assuming that it is actually delivering what it claims to deliver.

You can read Jac's piece here (scroll about half-way down), and there you will see among other things that YMCA Llandovery has also been very successful at applying for grants, including:

  • £44,000 from Carmarthenshire County Council in 2011
  • £103,000 from the Big Lottery in 2012
  • £16,000 from Carmarthenshire County Council in 2013
  • £250,000 from the People and Places Lottery Fund in 2014 for a "groundbreaking therapeutic and emotional support project"
The County Council also chipped in with £737,000 towards the Llandovery and Llangadog Townscape and Heritage Scheme, some of which went towards renovating a property in Llandovery bought by one of the YMCA's trustees.

As Jac reports, the police have been asked to investigate YMCA Wales by the Welsh Government. YMCA Llandovery is a separate charity, albeit with close links to YMCA Wales, including until very recently a shared trustee, Mo Sykes.

More on this in due course, including questions which have been raised about the remuneration enjoyed by YMCA Llandovery's management, generous pension schemes and to what extent Carmarthenshire County Council has been involved in advising the charity's management on ingenious financial engineering practices.

Questions are also being asked about why this charity in what is one of the more affluent parts of Carmarthenshire was apparently distributing twice as many "Jesus Cares" foodboxes as a broadly similar operation in the Rhondda, and why it was necessary to ship the contents of the boxes all the way from the King's Church in Newport.

*Ocado is a very upmarket grocery delivery business run by Waitrose, part of John Lewis. The nearest Waitrose to this part of the world is in Barry, about 90 miles away. If you fancy paying £3.50 for an unwaxed lemon, you know where to go, otherwise stick to Aldi and Lidl like a good Cardi.


West Wales News Review said...

The report, originating on Jac o'the North's blog, about Llandovery YMCA is highly irresponsible, in my view. Jill the manager came in 1990 and has created a centre for the whole community offering courses, CAB, after school club, youth club, space for groups to meet, IT access and a great deal more. I have supported grant applications. The YMCA contributes much-needed vitality to Llandovery, and Jill works incredibly hard.

Cneifiwr said...

Thank you for these comments. If there are any errors on this blog, I am always happy to correct them and, within reason, give anyone featured a right of reply.

Jac o' the North, said...

Jill and her friends have also done very well for themselves by providing things that Llandovery didn't know it needed until Jill and her friends realised there was funding available, not just for the projects, but for them, and even pensions, and all manner of other goodies out of the public purse of the poorest country in Europe.

I suggest you take a look at this video. It shows a bunch of people being funded to do things that would not be missed if they weren't being done. This is the picture all over rural Wales - a plague of good-lifers looking to milk the system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSRLRAO5wLs

Anonymous said...

Free food? I think I'll become a Christian. I'm already a Man, but becoming Young might be a bit of a problem after all these years.

I remember watching a documentary about the shanty villages blighting the foothills around Llandovery - the crime, the poverty, the misery. Great to see the God Squad keenly handing out our council tax to the poor sods who are forced to live there.

You *are* making all this up aren't you Cneifiwr? A silly season romp - a wizzard jape?. Please tell me you are...

Anonymous said...

WWNR...There's nothing Cneifwr or JacOtheNorth have published that if factually inaccurate, although you may disagree with Jac's rather unique political interpretation of what's gone on. If you are so convinced that Jills' contribution is so self sacrificing and of such longevity, then the pension contribution mentioned is not for her. Perhaps the payment is for the benefit of the, now absent, Mo Sykes, because it turns out that the YMCA Wales staff occupational pension scheme closed to new entrants in 2007/08. The £3500 a year staff pensions payment out of Llandovery branch started in 2012 and is not of a magnitude of a part time helper. As you know the lady in question, perhaps you can clear this matter up? I'm sure the Llandovery centre is a useful community resource for the town, but over £400,000 over three years is a tad expensive for a pre-existing pop-in community centre and playspace for the local toddler group and feet clinic. Even Carmarthenshire County Council couldn't notch up that kind of expense when they privatise a community facility.

Anonymous said...

I would not describe North Carmarthenshire as affluent ! The area has not had the buckets of money thrown into Llanelli & Carmarthen Neither has the other rural areas i.e. NCE

Blodwen said...

I've just watched the youtube link suggested by Jac and my first thought was that I didn't hear one Welsh voice during the entire video. So is Jac right in saying that it's the incoming "good lifers" milking the system or are we Welsh just too lazy and care-less to take advantage of the grants available? Are we in the wrong by not seeing the opportunities and just being content with the status quo?

It is undoubtedly wrong, however, that money is being spent on these schemes when frontline council departments such as adult and child care services are being told to cut their budgets by 25% because there's not enough funding available. Get your priorities right CCC!

Anonymous said...

Jesus Cares is run by the King's Church in Newport and was awarded £246,000 from the big lottery fund on the basis of this project distributing, in 2012, a total of 1200 food hampers (per month). In the same year the annual accounts sent to the charity commission of Llandovery YMCA claim 200 of these food parcels (per month) were distributed from Jesus Cares, through them. All to the homeless and people on state benefits in Llandovery. That's 2400 food hampers in that year to a town with a population of only 2,870 (2011 census). That's 16% of the South Wales total to Llandovery alone, an astonishing quantity bearing in mind that 'Jesus Cares' in 2012 also claimed to have expanded to Torfaen, Newport, Cardiff, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil, and Swansea. Llandovery YMCA should be congratulated for this extraordinary feat. Do they do loaves and fishes?