18th October 2022

Strategic partnership celebrated at community event

A collaboration between housing and care provider Linc Cymru (Linc) and higher education establishment The Open University (OU) in Wales, has been celebrated alongside colleagues, customers, and community members.

The event, which took place at Llys Glyncoed extra care scheme in Ebbw Vale on Monday 17 October, the start of Adult Learners Week, highlighted their shared commitment to widen learning opportunities in the community.

The collaboration between Linc and the OU in Wales has seen them co-develop several successful projects, with the partnership reinforced in September 2022 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Kevin Howell, Linc’s Director of Service Excellence said:Linc’s work is underpinned by its purpose, creating the right environment for people to flourish, and the Memorandum of Understanding with The Open University in Wales recognises the importance we place on using evidence and research to complement our role in supporting individuals and communities across Wales to thrive. Our partnerships with academic bodies are central to achieving our purpose and to ensuring we use data and insight to inform our work.”

The strategic partnership looks to foster key relationships within local communities, as demonstrated by the award-winning Blaenau Gwent Residents Engaging in Art, Culture and Heritage (BG REACH) project.

Kevin explains: “This place-based project involved Blaenau Gwent community members, including Linc customers, and saw OU in Wales academics run creative arts workshops designed to celebrate people’s heritage and identity through creative writing, art, music, and storytelling.

“The project culminated in an engaging exhibition at St Fagans National Museum of History, with the participants’ work being viewed by over 18,000 visitors. We were delighted when the BG REACH project went on to win the Special Recognition Award at the TPAS Cymru Good Practice Awards in July 2022. This was well deserved recognition of the passion and talent of all those involved.”

Participants of BG REACH celebrated their success at Monday’s event.

Jacqui Bowditch joined the BG REACH project when it started in 2020, she said: “I found the project amazing. We all went down to see our exhibition in St Fagans and it was great to see it there on show.

“It was brilliant to receive our award today. Everyone from BG REACH is here to celebrate with us!”

Monday’s celebration event also saw the launch of a new pilot project. ‘Open Learn with Linc’ is an online learning platform designed to encourage and enable people to learn and discover.

The platform is now available to Linc customers and colleagues to access a variety of free courses, from key skills such as maths and English, to fascinating and useful topics like leadership and management, sustainability, and health and wellbeing.

Darren Jones, Senior Manager (Partnerships) at the OU in Wales said: 

“The Open University in Wales was established to create learning opportunities for people in communities across Wales. Working alongside organisations like Linc is helping us to achieve this mission.  

“Today’s event has been about celebrating the work of BG REACH. It’s been great to hear about the friendships that have been made and all the fantastic experiences participants have enjoyed during the project.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with Linc and other social landlords as we work together to replicate the success of the BG REACH project in communities across Wales.”

Linc and the OU in Wales are committed to working together to increase the number of people who have access to learning opportunities, to enrich society and create a more prosperous Wales.

The partners have plans to emulate the success of the BG REACH project through a Wales wide creative arts project and following evaluation of the pilot, will be rolling out their ‘Open Learn with Linc’ platform to people across Wales.

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