Through decades of neglect by its local authority and residents, Rhondda based Pen Dinas has been a breeding ground for anti-social behavior and problems of social deprivation.
Even during its quiet periods the name of the town has become so notorious that people of low character wished to live there for reasons that would benefit crime, drugs and often to hide. However, it would be mighty foolish and out of character to say that all tenants and people there were of such disposition.
Many tenants remained because it was their home and that it was at one time a great community, more so during the industry of the coal mines – as Dinas was the first area to drop a mine shaft it seemed the future of the place was secure. It was very clear to see that the area was being neglected by many local authorities.
However, 2014 sees Pen Dinas is looking and feeling great.
The change has been down to amends in the local authority and a fresh attitude from many of its local people.
RCT Homes are now the landlords of Pen Dinas and have great policies of tenant empowerment. In 2009, RCT Homes proposed a £2 million makeover of the exterior of the buildings to modernize the buildings and lift the spirits of the tenants. The investment also aimed to sustain a long term tenants association, which would be run by the tenants themselves.
Work started on the exterior of the five blocks at Pen Dinas in 2010, the construction included security doors, new roof with solar panels, modernization of the outer balconies and much needed paint work inside the blocks. The outdated chute rooms at the rear of the building were also demolished, which was to be replaced by a modern smaller building to store refuse for collection.
In January of 2011 a tenants association was set up at Pen Dinas. The group would be financially aided by RCT Homes as part of its empowerment program. The group consisted of a committee and volunteers of Pen Dinas. Since then, the group have gone from strength to strength.
The tenants association’s achievements have been well documented and acclaimed by RCT Homes staff, with the group running environmental projects and social projects. Projects which have included a clean-up and regeneration of a disused footpath at the rear of Pen Dinas for which the group were granted £4000 to aid them with tools and safety gear.
The Dinas walkway project sees grass verges cut down on a seasonal basis by local tenant volunteers and regular litter picks to maintain cleanness to the area. This has included a highly successful dog fouling campaign to educate the local dog owners to clean up their dog mess.
Social projects with Valleys Kinds included art club, cooking club and links to The Factory music venue, Porth.
Recently, the group obtained a £900 grant from RCT Homes and funding from Valleys Kids for 8 tenants to accomplish a 3 day camping trip that also achieved a 16 mile walk that took 9 hours to reach the second highest peak in Wales, Cadair Idris. The project enhanced the community spirit and created a bond for the tenants took part, who live in different blocks at Pen Dinas.
The change that has been seen at Pen Dinas is growing. There is currently a regeneration project going on at the back road of Pen Dinas, which will modernize the look of the site.
However, the biggest change that is seen is through the people of Pen Dinas. The change in attitude and the change in the way people think about the area they live in has been fast and productive.
Many thanks have not only got to go to our landlords but to the dedication of the committee, volunteers and the tenants themselves for the constant support in a vision that we have called THE CHANGE.
Written by Robert Williams
Chair of the DINAS-TRA (tenants and Residence Association)