Learning award for unemployed men

16 June 2017

Three men sitting on tree trunk

A group of unemployed men from Merthyr Tydfil have won a prestigious adult learning award after setting up a heritage trail connecting their home town to Cardiff.

The men, with the support of Cardiff University’s Strong Communities, Healthier People engagement project, used geocaching to highlight the region’s rich industrial history.

At least 1,000 people have followed the geocaching trail, an outdoor treasure hunt in which participants use GPS coordinates to find information and items hidden at the location.

Only Men Allowed

The men, dubbed Only Men Allowed, have now won an Inspire! adult learning award from the Learning and Work Institute, a policy and research organisation dedicated to lifelong learning.

Group of men in woodland area

The setting up of the geocaching trail is a key activity, among others the men have taken part in, recognised in this award.

Only Men Allowed came into existence with the help of community regeneration organisation 3Gs Development Trust in Merthyr Tydfil after it was noticed that the majority of people engaged in community activities were children and women.

The men developed the geocaching idea to showcase their home town’s heritage as part of Welsh Government’s Fusion initiative – led by Strong Communities, Healthier People in the region - to empower people to play an active part in arts, culture and heritage.

They have since worked to link the trail to Cardiff following pilot funding from another Cardiff University engagement project, City Region Exchange.

Official geocache box

One of the men, Lee Stevens, said: “I’ve learned so much about this valley and the history, and it has made me proud of our past. The project is epic.”

Trek to Connect

Eva Elliott, who leads Strong Communities, Healthier People, said: “This group of men are incredible role models for their community and we are inspired by what they have achieved.

“Not only has it encouraged people to become active, it is bringing visitors to the area...”

Eva Elliot

“What was so inspiring about this project is that the idea came from the group and they have led its development and implementation throughout, not only in Merthyr but in Cardiff too.”

Dr Eva Elliott, Senior Lecturer

The geocache project – known as Trek to Connect - included training from heritage organisations such as Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Leisure Trust, People’s Collection Wales, National Museum Wales, Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust and Glamorgan Archives.

The awards ceremony, held in City Hall, Cardiff on 15 June, marked the launch of Adult Learners Week 2017 which is the biggest celebration of learning in Europe.

Would you be interested in undertaking research with schools or community groups in the areas of Butetown, Riverside, Grangetown and North Merthyr Tydfil?