This is the web site of THE GOLDEN VALLEY GROUPS INITIATIVE ("GVGI"). We seek:
- to improve the awareness of The General Public of all of the many community-supporting groups that are active in and within easy driving distance of the Golden Valley in South-West Herefordshire, UK (the DIRECTORY SECTION will play an important part in this); and
- to encourage these groups to appreciate each other and to support each other when possible (the VENUES SECTION will play an important role with that).
* The EVENTS SECTION lets people know what we are doing. Our First Event was THE SOCIETIES FAIR which took place at the Ewyas Harold Memorial Hall on Sunday, 18th November 2018. That will probably be a biennial affair. We are presently planning our campaign for 2019 which will involve holding various meetings which we are calling 'Discussion Groups'.
* Hidden away, so as not to distract people from the main parts of the site, is our IDEAS SECTION where we report on the thoughts & ideas that have influenced how we have evolved so far and how we are still evolving.
* We have a fledgling FACEBOOK page. Feel free to support it and post messages on it. * Probably the best way of contacting us is by emailing Peter@GoldenValleyGroups.UK.
Like many others before us, we were surprised at how little we and others around us knew about the voluntary work that was going on behind the scenes in our local villages. We were also surprised how little many of those volunteers knew about what other volunteers were doing just down the road. As reported on Idea#01, we had a reason for thinking about this sort of thing and that led to the simple thoughts that:
- it would be good if there was an easily-accessible source of information about what was going on that would be useful to The Public in general but to community-support groups in particular; and that
- community-support groups should support each other better than they do.
Are there not others already doing this sort of thing? Not in the way we think is needed. Over the years National & Local Governments have indeed developed various organisations to support community-development (HVOSS comes to mind) but lack of resources has too-often led to such 'top down' ventures losing touch with many local communities. Nevertheless, the recent revitalisation of WISH is most encouraging and we anticipate working closely with them over the next year or so. Ours is a 'bottom up' grass-roots initiative, aiming to help our local communities look after themselves and reach out to others in the community and, when appropriate, reach up to those public bodies. We are trying to help our local community-support groups develop a structure of contacts and a means of communication & co-operation between them that will last for many years.
The main thing we are providing is this site. We offer it to 'the Community' as a focal point for making people aware of what community-support activities are going-on in and around the Golden Valley (see Directory). We will supplement & support the site with various advertising and/or marketing campaigns and the occcasional Event (see Events). We have various Ideas about what we could/should do and we are open to suggestions.
Question 1: Who are we targeting this at? Answer: Everyone who lives in and around the Golden Valley which, for events in our 'Friendship Area' (see the Where? tab) covers most of South-West Herefordshire and part of Monmouthshire, with attention being paid to every group in the area that may reasonably be identified as 'community supporting'.
Question 2: Who do we think will benefit most from this initiative? Answer: Those people who give up their time to support the many community-support activities that are going on in the area. They should benefit because more people will know about them & what they are trying to achieve AND knowing what other community-support groups are doing should make it easier for them to do whatever it is they are trying to do. If support-providers benefit then those who need their support should also benefit.
Question 3: What are you working on at the moment? Answer: Having recently held our first SOCIETIES FAIR, we are obtaining feedback to work out how best to develop other aspects of this Groups Initiative. This will almost certainly involve the holding of informal Discussion Groups and similar things (see the 'What Next?' tab).
Please note that we are keen to:
- avoid 'reinventing wheels'. Where we find that others are doing what we think needs to be done, we will welcome them and either try to support them or simply leave the relevant issue to them and see how else we could be of use.
- avoid expanding our brief beyond what we can sustain. That limits us to (a) helping local people find out about (and be supportive of) their local community-support groups ('Connection') and then (b) trying to support the 3Cs of Co-operation, Collaboration & Co-ordination between those groups if, but only if, they are happy with that. We are not seeking to become a significant provider of anything other than simple ways of supporting Communication across the Community.
Who are we? We are just some local people who are operating under what we call 'The Golden Valley Groups Initiative'.
* This Groups Initiative was founded by and is being led by Peter Barns-Graham who is a Trustee of Dore Community Transport and a Visits Secretary for Golden Valley Probus Club. He lives in the parish of Abbeydore, nearer to Bacton than to Abbey Dore, and may be contacted at Peter@GoldenValleyGroups.UK.
* This Initiative will be kept small, only ever involving a few people at a time, for we wish to ensure that it is sustainable on a minimal budget. However, we aim to punch above our weight by judicious targeting of objectives & choice of issues to be involved in and due co-operation with appropriate organisations (including several linked to our Local Authorities). Much of our work will be done by simple facilitation of communication between relevant parties. We do not need many people to do that - although we would be happy to hear from anyone who is interested in working with us.
Who are we aiming this site at? The Public in general and community-support groups in particular. What do we mean by "community-support groups"? We do not define that strictly. As reported on our Home Page, "social, charitable, health-supporting, hobby-supporting, educational, religious, sporting" are certainly included and that (particularly the "social" and "hobby-supporting" bits) covers many things! Why should we limit it as long as it is legal and generally supportive of 'the community'? Even 'for profit' organisations may be included although we will normally not include activities that are predominantly business- or trade-related or of personal rather than communal or at least social focus. Our main criterion is that, to merit our support, a group should help others to enjoy their lives more or at least survive Life a bit more easily.
Although this is still evolving, our present plan is that we shall establish our area-of-coverage at 2 levels:
* Our ‘Friendship Area’. This is our wider ‘Communications Area’. It covers most of South-West Herefordshire plus a spur into Monmouthshire to include Grosmont. We aim to ensure that everyone in this area is aware of (and hopefully supports) the many Community Groups in it. This area applies to our Societies Fairs and our Online Directory. It will probably also apply to certain of our Discussion Groups.
* Our ‘Operations Area’. This is where we hope to help some Community Groups develop closer ties with each other so that they benefit from Co-operating (and possibly even Collaborating & Co-ordinating) with each other. Although this will start with a small ‘Core Area’, just parts of the Golden Valley, once we have gained experience and made progress with that initial area, it will be enlarged (in stages) into a much wider area. We have yet to identify exactly what that will be but the HR2 postcode, probably with southern HR3, gives a reasonable first approximation. [HR2 covers most of the area covered by Dore Community Transport which is of particular importance to us (see here).]
The Dore Valley follows the River Dore from its rise in the foothills of the Black Mountains, not far from Hay-on-Wye, close to the border between England & Wales. The river flows south-southeastwards for about 12 miles (19 km) going through or close to the villages of Dorstone, Peterchurch, Vowchurch, Abbey Dore, Ewyas Harold and Pontrilas before reaching the Monnow near Llangua. The Monnow itself flows into the River Wye at Monmouth. The name Dore probably derives from the Welsh word dwr which means "water". The story is that dwr was misheard or misinterpreted by the Norman French who thought it was "d'or", meaning "golden" (perhaps they thought it was so-named because of colourful crops or flowers), so the river valley became known as "Golden Valley".
Now! The basic concept for this Initiative germinated in November 2017 (see Idea#01) but it was not until 12th February 2018 that there was a "Let's get on with it" moment. The Initiative is being developed throughout 2018 and, we hope, will continue for many years to come. Developing this web site was our First Step on this journey and holding the SOCIETIES FAIR, on Sunday 18th November 2018, was our Second.
For how long might GVGI continue? We do not know. We will have to see how it evolves over 2019. We hope to have another Societies Fair in 2020 and possibly another in 2022. After that, it will depend on how much support GVGI (or whatever it has evolved into by then) obtains from people we have probably not met yet.
We are not trying to change the world. We are simply trying to make it easier for others to help themselves through simple Communication and Connection. It is up to them whether or not they take advantage of that. We are keeping what we do very simple partly so that it has a good chance of being accepted by others as being sensible (as well as useful) and partly so that it is sustainable.
For after the SOCIETIES FAIR, from early 2019, we are thinking about setting-up some Discussion Groups. At the Fair we handed out a leaflet ('Survey#1') seeking feedback on this (see here). These Discussion Groups will probably be used to cover most of our IDEAS: Idea#05 & Idea#06 (helping halls and other venues to work together more effectively), Idea#07 (using competitions to support venue & group activities), Idea#08 (helping groups get expert advice & guidance), Idea#09 (helping Local Government help us), and Idea#10 (supporting the social lives of those who have not yet retired).