A town council was honoured to be asked to make a presentation at a prestigious annual conference about its award-winning health and fitness project.

One Voice Wales, which provides training and good practice standards for Wales’ 735 town and community councils, invited Blaenavon Town Council to speak to delegates at the 2021 Innovative Practice Conference.

Chief officer Kevin Warren and Healthy Blaenavon’s Rebecca Smith told the conference how she was appointed in July 2019, jointly funded by Torfaen County Borough Council and Torfaen Public Service Board on a two-year pilot project.

A council spokesperson said: “One aim of the initiative was to move away from GP referrals and assessments to “enabling conversations and connections” with the community, focusing on health and wellbeing.

“Healthy Blaenavon has levered in more than £42,000 in match-funding and engaged with more than 400 residents; delivered weekly workshops on: mental health for 14 to 25-year-olds, art for over 18s, music, food (Generations Eating Together) and Street Games free family activities; cultural excursions for people of all ages and the Intergenerational project.

“During the pandemic, the project coordinated the council’s range of support for the community, including the delivery of food parcels, shopping and collecting prescriptions and making telephone calls to isolated residents .”

One Voice Wales chief executive Lyn Cadwallader said: “Blaenavon Town Council gave an inspiring presentation on their Healthy Blaenavon project providing a shining example of how a council can take a place-based approach and identify unmet local needs, develop project responses to these and collaborate with a range of partners to drive local wellbeing.

“I am sure many town councils across Wales will learn and benefit from the work undertaken in Blaenavon.”

In the past four years, the council has won five One Voice Wales awards – Carwyn Roberts Local Council of the Year Award for the Healthy Blaenavon project, Best Community Engagement Initiative for the Intergenerational Project, Best Annual Report award for Kevin Warren, and Highly Commended in the Best Website and Best Community Engagement Initiatives.

Mayor Cllr Liam Cowles said: “We’re extremely proud of the work that our little council has been able to carry out in the past four years.

“Driving all this has been our excellent team of officers. We are very fortunate to have them onboard.”

One Blaenavon family recently won almost £200 worth of prizes – and got themselves fitter and slimmer - by taking part in a project run by the Healthy Blaenavon programme.

Sianne and Andrew Morgan, foster son Cai, 16, and nine-year-old granddaughter Felicity were the first family to finish a challenge set as part of Healthy Blaenavon’s Family Engagement project funded by Street Games Wales.

The families taking part were all given a Fitbit health and fitness tracker watch and set a 10-week period to increase their steps and take family walks, gaining points for each stage.

Sianne lost three stone, Andrew lost a stone, and the family are also now growing their own vegetables such as lettuces and courgettes.

“The Fitbit project really helped motivate us into exercising,” said Sianne. “We were also complete novices at growing but are enjoying it all.”