More About Us
More than just a Gardening Group
When many people see our work, one of the first things they tend to notice is our Community Garden. This suggests to people that we are primarily a Gardening Group, (which does put some people off in joining because they 'have no interest in gardening' or 'are not very good at it'.)
HOWEVER, this is merely one single aspect of the work we do.
More than just a Conservation Group
Conservation, nature & preservation relating to Victoria Square are certainly a big aspect of our work (but again, it is still does not complete the scope of it). FoVS are dedicated to looking after The Square, ensuring it is a green-space that is well maintained for use, not only by the public, but the wildlife as well. See our Projects and Nature pages for more information on these.
A Community Collaboration Group
FoVS is a local Community Group. What does this mean in definition? Well there is no one answer to that. Our group is made up of anyone who wants to Get Involved. It is not just for residents of Victoria Square, or members of All Saints Church, and some of our members don't even live in Penarth!
We are a group open to all who have a keen interest in what we do, and can either contribute to our development and progress, or are looking to learn from us in order to develop and progress themselves, by gaining new skills, knowledge and experiences.
To find out more about Being a Member please visit that page.
We also work with other groups and authorities such as: The Vale of Glamorgan Council, our parent group The Penarth Civic Society (and its sub groups such as The Penarth Tree Forum), and other local community groups such as GPG and its sub groups (such as PGC), and more. Not only does this mean we have more assistance, knowledge and sharable resources available, but it also helps to really strengthen the Community Bond between these groups, and our area of influence... which is the town of Penarth and its surrounds.
See our Community Connections page for more information on other local groups etc. we connect and work with.
A Community Engaging Group
Our aim is also to work for The Community and with The Community, so we are also looking at ways we can engage with it. This ranges from listening to their ideas & feedback, to developing projects, programmes and events that can involve them.
A Member-defined Group
One of the notable things about Us is that we are a young group (having only been in existence since 2019), which means we are still propagating our sense of identity, and what it is we want to achieve. We are also a continuously developing group. This also means that we have not fixed and finalised all our plans & goals for the future, and in fact are always looking for new suggestions and new ideas of what we can do beyond that which we have already done.
And this is where our members can come in as helpful contributors towards this.
We are a a group collectively driven and influenced by our member's ideas, suggestions, abilities, experiences and preferences. The roles that exist within our group (beyond that of the necessary core-committee) have either come about because the group encountered a need for them (such as IT Management, Project Team Leaders, Community Engagement Co-ordinators etc.), or a new member has brought an idea to The Group, and things have taken off from there.
This makes us fairly dynamic and flexible in terms of not only what we can offer our members when the join, but also what our members can look to offer us.
How we Started
In October 2018 a general meeting to discuss the future maintenance of Victoria Square was held in All Saints Church. As a result of this meeting; attended by more than 50 people, it was obvious that there was very strong support for forming a group to improve and enhance the facilities of the Square.
Friends of Victoria Square was thus formed and became a sub group of The Penarth Civic Society. Our first official meeting date was the 9th April 2019, so this is considered our founding date.
From there we looked for ways we can be supported and funded. As Victoria Square's green-space is owned by both The Vale of Glamorgan Council and All Saints Church (Church in Wales), we needed to seek cooperation and collaboration from them. Both were happy to support this cause in the ways they can. As it is also a community space, we also needed to ensure The Community was informed and understood what was going on, and why.
Funding initially came from a grant of £9000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund (June 2019). This was to pay for an initial survey of the trees and landscape, with recommendations for their future management.
Using this, we consulted with Ecologists, FoVS Members, and held a public consultation. We then established a plan to improve the biodiversity & ecology of The Square.
This plan was used as a base to bid for funds from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The Welsh Government (Woodlands Scheme). Funds were awarded in January 2021.
In February 2021 we started to implement our proposals. This stage of the project; with help from all our volunteers, will continue until March 2022.
For more about our timeline (and that of Victoria Square) please check out our History Page.
Our Original Aim & Mission Statement
These are our original Aim and Mission Statement that were laid out at the start of The Group. Hopefully we've upheld it so far, though we are now moving beyond what was originally proposed as we further expand and modify our work.
The Aim of our Group Shall Be:
To improve the amenities offered to the general public in the open spaces surrounding All Saints Church in Victoria Square and to ensure the ongoing maintenance of the space for the duration of the continuation of 'The Group'.
Our Aim is to celebrate, conserve and enhance Victoria Square as a place of freedom, recreation, and enjoyment for all. Victoria Square is an area of grass, trees, shrubs and wild flowers surrounding All Saints Church, in the Parish of Penarth. In our urban environments we need more places where we can relax, play, work and learn. In our social network dominated culture, wee need shared activities to enable people of different ages and backgrounds to come together.
Victoria Square has the potential to go some way to meeting these needs, the potential to be a mini-equivalent of local woodland, a century or more ago, a communal asset and a focal point for community activities. A place for quiet contemplation amongst trees and greenery that provides habitats and refuges for all manner of wild-life.
The Friends of Victoria Square are a group of people who believe that The Square is a treasure, a special place within Penarth. Working closely with the Vale Council, Penarth Civic Society, and the relevant Church Authority, it is our aim to enhance and protect the trees and wildlife, to encourage the communal use of The Square and to preserve Victoria Square as a special place, a haven of peace, within Penarth, for generations to come.
Also appearing on the original mission statement is this quote:
"In the company of flowers we know happiness. In the company of trees we are able to think, they foster meditation."
John Stewart Collis (The Worm Forgives the Plough)