The Vale of Glamorgan is a fantastic place to live, partly because of the landscape that surrounds us, but primarily because it is a place filled with strong local communities.
The latest figures from the poppy appeal are a testament to this. The local branch of the Royal British Legion has just finished finalising their accounts for Barry, Rhoose and Peterston-Super-Ely for the poppy appeal period and have found that over £52,000 has been raised.
This compares to £43,000 at the same point last year and is more than was raised over the previous 12-month period with more than 10-months still to go.
This is an incredible achievement for the Royal British Legion, showcasing not only the generosity of the people of the Vale, but crucially, the strength of the community. It was the very many volunteers and community groups, collecting at supermarkets and elsewhere, who have made this possible.
Young people in the Vale were responsible for collecting over half of all the donations, with scout, guide and cadet groups relieving RBL volunteers at poppy stalls in Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda on evenings and weekends as well as organising their own fundraisers.
It makes me proud that the young in our community are not only so closely involved in the hugely important ceremonial act of remembrance, but play such a large role in fundraising for veterans as well. Roy and Theresa Goodwin, who organise the poppy appeal in Barry, deserve huge credit for getting youth groups involved and for their work manging so many other local volunteers.
Just one youth group, the 11th Barry Sea Scouts, run by community champion Brian Foley, raised and collected over £10,000 in the run-up to Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. Those like Brian, who organise community groups, create what social scientists call ‘social capital’.
Social capital is a misleading phrase, as it suggests that the positive impact of bringing people together in communities is somehow quantifiable and controllable. It is not.
The impact of scout groups, churches, clubs, small shops, cafes and pubs is both profound and unmeasurable. These local institutions, often not consciously designed for the purpose, create bonds between people which improve the lives of everybody in an area.
This creates not only the readily available network of people able to help with good causes such as the poppy appeal, but also the goodwill between people that is just not found to the same extent in metropolitan areas. It is why I love the Vale.