All posts by Angela Gerrard

Pontypridd Youth

Over the past two and a half years, young people in Pontypridd have been the trailblazers in a European project aimed at finding ways to promote youth dialogue with politicians and policy makers around circular economy. The Youth Forums are expected to produce local action plans with visible results and have already lead to a number of new circular initiatives being implemented.

As the funding for the Erasmus+ CEYOU project comes to an end, here’s a round up of the activities so far…

Pontypridd’s Youth Forum on Circular Economy

As part of the CEYOU project a process to form a Youth Forum on circular economy  started in summer 2020 in Pontypridd, Wales. The activities, coordinated by CEYOU  coordinating partner Pontydygsu Ltd, consisted of a series of online and face to face events involving young people, youth organisations and local elected representatives. The aim of the Forum is to develop an action plan on circular economy and then to carry out those actions. The target audience were young people, (members of Young Friends of the Earth Pontypridd, representatives from local schools, and members of groups such as Girl guides) as well as local representatives from the UK Government, Welsh Assembly and local council. The core group of young people were  already part of an activist group who had been organising and participating in the local  school strikes for Climate action; they had also already participated in a hustings with local  potential candidates for parliament. They were and are still keen to continue their activities.

Session 1 – Kick-off and planning meeting 

In July 2020 One week prior to a planned forum with policy makers, Pontydygsu organised a zoom meeting for the young people and their parents. A short introduction video was filmed by one of  the young people to explain what the group was going to do and a dedicated page on the  CEYOU site was created to share information about the forum. These links were shared with  the families of the young people via a facebook messenger group. The young participants  were asked to think up some questions to inform the plan for the forum. During this initial  planning meeting, the young people created a wish-list of all of the questions and possible  activities they could think of for circular economy and environmental activism in Pontypridd ready to present and discuss with the politicians in the full forum. 

Circular Economy Overview

Session 2 – First Youth Forum  

Session 2 consisted in a round table discussion and workshop with local politicians. The Member of Parliament for Pontypridd, Member of the Senedd for Pontypridd and a Town councillor for Pontypridd were contacted by email and sent  information about the project and the forums. All agreed that they wished to be involved in the activities and the date for a forum was set for 22 July. 

Young FOE presented their ideas for discussion and asked questions of their representatives and then the whole group worked together to agree an action plan with responsibilities assigned to different people.  

Areas of work identified 

The main areas of work identified during the forum were the following: 

Circular Economy

Circular economy initiatives such as clothes and uniform recycling, and increased collection points for difficult to recycle items; 


Training and learning opportunities such as mentoring for young activists, cycling skills, and upcycling; 

Public Awareness

Awareness raising campaigns such as walking, cycling and preventing littering from PPE.

Action plan 

The Action Plan reports the list of activities part of the action plan developed during  the meeting, as well as the actors responsible for each activity and a deadline for the  implementation. The action plan has been disseminated to all participants, also to the wider local friends of the earth group and then publicly on the CEYOU website and social media.  The action plan can also be consulted online. 

Session 3

The group reconvened in October 2020 online to revisit the action plan, review progress  and agree next steps. For this meeting, more young people were invited to attend the forum  via local schools’ eco-councils and additional responsible adults where required.

The group went through the action plan developed in the previous meeting and reviewed  progress for each of the actions. Updates about the work of the group and the activities  developed are regularly posted on the CEYOU website.  

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, several actions had to be delayed but the enthusiasm of  participants stayed high. Several new ideas were developed and added to the action plan.  

New areas of work identified were schemes to award local ethical businesses and the need for public spaces to be designated as wild areas or as community growing spaces. 

The new ideas are listed below: 

Communal Gardens

An open communal garden space where people of all ages can meet at a distance and  garden together; 

Youth Forum Approved

Certificate system for local shops who promote and follow ethical practices ie sustainable  palm oil only or plastic free products; 

Faulty Fridges

Stickers for shop fridges which either don’t work or are being left open; 

Plastic Free

Help creating petitions for example to increase the plastic bag charge, outlaw carrier  bags entirely, or ask mcdonalds to stop putting plastic toys in happy meals; 

Reduce or entirely get rid of plastic bags in local shops; 

What happens to all of the empty hand sanitiser containers from shops and schools?  Can something better be done?


Can we do something about people dropping their disposable masks and gloves on the  floor? 

Session 4

To take forward the ideas discussed with Mick Antoniw MS around active transport and safe routes to school the group invited their local representatives and supporting adults to complete a cycle ride across Pontypridd. This proved to be near impossible as there is no safe cycle route across town and a number of the representatives are as yet unable to ride a bike. The group laid down the challenge for them to learn.

The group took part in some bike rides to highlight the difficulties and the positives encountered on their regular routes. The photos were shared on social media.

In follow-up, the group met with Pontypridd Town Councillor Simon Pritchard to discuss their concerns and to come up with a list of ways to improve cycling around Pontypridd.

Improved signage

Cycle routes could be made clearer, particularly in high traffic areas (Llanover roundabout, Broadway, the main road through Treforest)

Learn to ride

Cycling Proficiency courses should be held in Ynysangharad Park with classes for adults as well as for young people.

Bike care

Cycle maintenance courses could also be considered, in the park and in collaboration with Barry Sidings.

Public awareness

An awareness campaign should be launched to encourage cyclists and pedestrians to respect each other more and to promote transport which is not reliant on fossil fuels.

Fewer car journeys

Promote and encourage car free days. 

Pontypridd Green Week

The group met during Pontypridd Green Week for an informal discussion with Heledd Fychan MS and Mick Antoniw MS. They quickly visited the outstanding points on the action plan and decided to work on their previously planned scheme to reward local businesses with ‘Youth Forum Approved’ Status.

Invitation to The Senedd

During The Great Big Green Week, the UK wide fringe festival for COP26 in  September 2021, Pontypridd Youth Forum were invited by Mick Antoniw MS to attend a meeting with him at the Pier Head Building in Cardiff Bay. The session started with a look at the Senedd building before moving to a round table discussion.

Key Points;

The Rights of the Taff

During Pontypridd’s own contribution to the COP26 fringe festival; Pontypridd Green Week, the youth forum and local residents contributed ideas for a ‘bill of rights’ for the river Taff as it flows through Pontypridd. The bill was read out and presented to Mick Antoniw MS.

Mr Antoniw noted that he liked the idea. The group then discussed ways to enforce the rights of the river and Mick outlined the stakeholders who would have to be consulted as well as the legal process to be followed.

Preventing Littering

One of the proposed rights of the Taff was for it to be kept free of litter. The group proposed more litter bins, easier access to litter picking tools and also ways of reducing packaging in the first place. Support for refill stations in smaller shops was suggested as well as launching a petition for bottle deposit-return schemes to be introduced.

Improving Biodiversity

Following a short discussion about the benefits of reintroducing Wolves and other native apex predators into Pontypridd, the conversation returned to the Taff. There are concerns around the high levels of poisonous metals, a remnant from the coal industry, which are finding their way into bird eggs and causing damage to hatchlings.

The group also noted that adherence to the proposed river rights and a reduction in both litter and pollution would benefit local biodiversity. 

Next steps

CEYOU may be drawing to a close but the forums set up across Europe will continue to meet, work on the action plan points and share new ideas in conversation with their elected representatives. The work done in Pontypridd contributes to guidelines for establishing permanent forums of dialogue between local authorities and youth organisations on Circular Economy. The Key recommendations of this report are as follows;

Key Recommendations

Based on the CEYOU project partners’ experience and research in setting up and facilitating Youth Forums, we are able to list some key recommendations. (Further details via the ‘More Info‘ button):

  • Local authorities, in collaboration with youth organisations and other stakeholders, should aim for engagement methods that foresee an active participation of young people.
  • Traditional youth councils and forums should be revived to foster bottom-up approaches and target environmental topics more specifically.
  • Engagement of young people is most effective and impactful if
    implemented with a territorial approach, though planning processes at the local level.
  • Young people should be enabled to understand decision-making
    processes and its timing.
  • Active engagement of young people should be effective and sustainable in the long run.

CEYOU in the Senedd

In September the Pontypridd (CEYOU)Youth Forum on Circular Economy was invited to the Senedd, the young people had an audience with Mick Antoniw MS where they discussed the Rights of the Taff River, biodiversity, and ways to reduce plastic pollution. The group agreed to start work on a petition for a bottle return scheme.

Great Big Green Week 2021

This Autumn, world leaders will meet in Glasgow for COP26, the UN  Climate Change Conference. This summit is a crunch point for tackling climate change, countries will need to agree and meet highly ambitious targets to reduce Greenhouse gases.

Ahead of this event, communities across the UK are holding their own Great Big Green Week fringe festivals, stepping up their actions to reduce emissions and urging world leaders to ‘step up’ too.

CEYOU initially registered the Pontypridd Green Week expecting to run a single multiplier event for the project combined with a social media campaign throughout the week. But the people of Pontypridd, home of CEYOU coordinators Pontydysgu, knew we could do better than that! Now we have partnered with Climate.Cymru and the local branch of Friends of the Earth and we are organsing what is shaping up to be a bumper week of activities, workshops, arts, presentations and celebrations.

Pontypridd Green Week even has its own poet in residence, Rufus Mufasa, former Future Generations Act Poet in Residence for Wales and a  leading artist in promoting and mentoring young voices.

The week kicks of with a community fancy dress litter-pick followed by drop-in engagement sessions, presentation of the CEYOU products, an upcycled art project, a recycled fashion show, documentary film screening, and CEYOU youth forum session. On day two, members of the youth forum have been invited by Mick Antoniw MS to visit the Senedd, (theWelsh Parliament).

During the week there will be social media challenges, an eco book club and shop window displays to entertain and engage passers by. CEYOU will also hold a series of webinars on youth engagement with circular economy initiatives.

At the end of the week we have a Repair Cafe, introduction to permaculture and a plenary session with  local councillor and assembly member, Heledd Fychan.

Throughout the build-up to Pontypridd Green Week local people have been contributing ideas to create a bill of rights for the Taff, the river flowing through the heart of the town. These rights, such as ‘The right to be free from litter’ will be incorporated into a handmade scroll and presented during a celebration of the rights of the river.

CEYOU has circulated info packs to local schools and businesses. They are also available to download.

For more info please follow the Pontypridd Green Week Facebook page.

Youth Circular Economy Initiatives are Growing in Pontypridd

In 2019, young people and students from Europe and all over the world began to take to the streets to demand action to halt environmental and climate change. On one day of action in March organisers said there were more than 2,000 protests in 125 countries. The student movement was inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, now nominated for a Nobel Prize two years in a row, who kicked off a global movement after she sat outside Swedish parliament every Friday beginning last August. Young people have successfully elevated the need for the environment to be included in the school curriculum.
The development of the circular economy is seen as central to reducing damage to the environment and developing positive change. In 2015 the European Commission adopted an action plan to help accelerate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy, boost global competitiveness, promote sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs. The Welsh Government is currently reviewing the responses to its 2020 consultation on circular economy which includes their ambition to become world leaders in zero waste, low carbon and sharing resources fairly.
The Circular Economy for Youth or CEYOU project started at the end of 2019 in the midst of climate strikes and extinction rebellion protests. Our aim, to promote circular economy initiatives to young people as a proactive way of combating the pressing issues of climate change and sustainability.
The project is active in North Macedonia, Greece, Italy, Belgium, France and Wales and despite current restrictions around physical meetings has been successful in supporting and initiating a number of initiatives.
In Italy a series of online Hackathons were held where youth participants worked on ideas for a circular economy business with the best ideas being taken forward for development and a prize awarded to the winning team.
In Wales a younger group of environmental activists participated in online workshops to produce a guide for ‘Staying Green in Quarantine’.

The same group reconvened via Zoom a few more times to work with local artists on the themes of biodiversity, biomimicry, and the future, the results of which are now part of the online exhibition Pontypridd 2120. The youngsters were still keen to do more and had suggested growing their own food and making their own compost as part of the staying green guide, so CEYOU in partnership with Pontypridd Friends of the Earth launched Grow Pontypridd, to support and encourage people to grow and share edible produce. With small contributions from both the Town Council and CEYOU to get started, CEYOU’s coordinators Pontydysgu were able to apply for funding from InterlinkRCT. The project has now delivered around 50 home grow veg packs to local residents who would not otherwise be able to get started growing veg due to the financial implications or because of isolating due to covid19. Many of the packs were delivered to residents’ doors by the kind volunteers at the local food bank, others were dropped for collection at community centres.

To make the packs, members of the community donated seeds, seedlings and pots and the project provided compost, growing instructions and a welcome note. Our team of youth volunteers made up packs and added in hand drawn pictures and notes.

The adults dealt with the tricker issues of coordination, pickups and deliveries. Following the initial success the local council donated compost from their green waste recycling.

The social media publicity prompted a local community centre to contact us asking for advice on how to turn their disused raised beds into a community vegetable garden and so yet another initiative began, Little Garden, a family orientated community garden with a long term plan to become a food coop.

In parallel to the growing projects CEYOU is also arranging an online youth forum on Circular Economy at which young people from Pontypridd will be able to discuss the pressing issues of post Covid19 recovery and formulate an action plan alongside local government representatives from both Westminster and the Senedd. More information to follow!
Central to CEYOU is the bringing together of youth organisations and networks, together with Circular Economy associations at European, regional and municipal levels including local government. The aim is not only to exchange initiatives and best practice but to establish a permanent forum for dialogue including around policy and practice. Such goals will develop the capacities of all participant organisations and build the foundation for longer term collaboration in this area. For more information contact the CEYOU project coordinator angela [dot] gerrard [at] gmail [dot] com or check our facebook and website.

Ponty’s Young Online Activists

Last week CEYOU hosted the first online meeting for the Youth branch of Pontypridd Young Friends of the Earth.

The group have been very active over the past year attending Fridays for Future School Strikes and organising a hustings for local parliamentary candidates to discuss their views and policies relating to Climate Change.

Everyday life has changed significantly in a short space of time. Supermarket restrictions and limiting our time out of the house may lead to an increase in purchasing products wrapped in plastic and relying on takeaways in plastic tubs, combine this with reduced waste management and recycling services and its easy to fall into bad habits.

Their task for our Youth Forum this week was to come up with a top ten tips for staying green during the Covid19 quarantine and lockdown period.

The group were full of ideas for the lockdown from planning your ideal garden in Minecraft to redecorating your home for a change of scenery to leaving chalk messages of hope and positivity on the pavements.

Here are the top 10 which, in true Circular Economy style you are free to use, reuse and repurpose but please give attribution to and YoungFOEPontypridd.


Hackathon will go ahead despite Covid19

Despite the Coronavirus emergency, the Hackathon will go ahead and starts on the web on Monday 23 March.

Two successive dates will follow, always via web, where European technicians and Italian realities will intervene in the field of circular economy.

Numerous young people who have joined the initiative eager to contribute to activate projects aimed at reducing waste, food waste and improving the extension of the life span of goods. During a difficult and extremely delicate time young people are always in the front row for taking care of the planet.

Ethics in a crisis

The hometown of our coordinators, Pontypridd, made international news this week as Storm Dennis hit, bursting the banks of the river Taff and devastating homes and businesses.

Many items were thrown straight into skips for fear of contamination with sewerage water but it was good to see representatives from the local repair cafe salvaging some of the harder to recycle items, electrical cables and sockets made of mixed materials to be disinfected, dried out and hopefully reused.

Hackathon to foster youth participation in the circular economy

The CEYOU project will challenge youth in San Giuseppe Vesuviano, Italy, to get creative and engage with circular economy during an innovative hackathon. Participants, who include associations, informal groups and individuals between 18 and 30 years old, will have two days to jointly develop ideas, activities and workshops to foster circular economy in four municipalities (Palma Campania, San Gennaro Vesuviano, San Giuseppe Vesuviano and Striano), covering three key sectors: food waste reduction, waste prevention and product life extension.

The hackathon will take place on 9 March and 3 April 2020. It is organised by UCSA as part of a series of activities of the CEYOU project to foster youth participation and engagement with circular economy. The innovative circular economy services created by the hackathon’s participants will be implemented in a second stage in the targeted territories either by UCSA directly or by a third party.

For more information and registration for the hackathon, please visit the following page (in Italian)

Up and running

The whole Ceyou partnership met face to face for the first time in Athens in January 2020. During the two day meeting they consolidated plans for local youth forums where young people could engage in a dialogue around circular economy and environmental issues with policy makers, business owners and other relevant actors. Over the coming months there will be a series of hackathons, webinars, workshops, round-table events and more.