Latest news & views


MonLife Heritage Museums brand new collections website

MonLife Heritage Museums are proud to announce the launch of a brand new collections website at www.monlifecollections.co.uk The new website provides free access to search hundreds of records, allowing users to read material and view images for items within the collections from across Monmouthshire. The Museums team will continually be adding more to the website, so we recommend that users keep coming back to see what’s new.

  • Discover historical objects, works of art, photographs and documents cared for by MonLife Heritage.
  • Search for special people, explore notable places, travel through time and discover different themes.
  • Hundreds of Monmouthshire records are already on our collections search.

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, MonLife Heritage have been researching new ways to diversify our offer – between January and March 2021, with thanks to a Welsh Government Local Government Cultural Recovery Fund grant, members of our team have been able to dedicate their role to the creation of the collections website. We have worked alongside Digital Heritage Consultants, Orangeleaf Systems Ltd to build our bespoke website.

Lydia Wooles, from the Museums online project team said “We really hit the ground running with the project, as a team we’ve learnt a lot in a short timescale. Records have been carefully selected to provide users with a flavour of the wide variety of artefacts and documents that we hold. It’s been such a rewarding experience working on this project.”

All of the records on the website relate to the story of Monmouthshire and include the nationally significant Nelson collection. From archaeological finds, extensive costume collections, to photographs and postcards – there is something for everyone.


MonLife celebrates launch with multi activity school festival

On Friday 17th January MonLife celebrated its official launch with a Multi Activity School Festival at Monmouth Leisure Centre.

The festival saw 85 children attend from Osbaston, Kymin View and Trellech Primary. The children had chance to take part in a number of sessions that included boccia, learning, football, team building plus much more. The sessions showcased the diversity of MonLife and the fantastic services that we have to offer.

The strategic focus of MonLife is on physical and mental health and wellbeing, providing opportunities in learning and experiencing, achieving a more physically active lifestyle for all. Health and wellbeing are embedded in every service area of MonLife and this means that we are ready to play a part and support schools in the launch of the new curriculum.

Richard John, Cabinet Member for Education and Leisure, said “I was delighted to attend the official launch of MonLife, which brings under one umbrella our leisure and community services for the first time.

Our MonLife services are really important for the mental and physical wellbeing of all local residents and that’s why we’re investing and upgrading facilities, including our leisure centres. We want to ensure that as many residents as possible can take part, evidenced by our insport Silver Award for improving access for disabled people.

This launch embodies our commitment to protect locally accessible services for residents, including helping people lead more active and independent lives through our array of diverse services and facilities.

The whole day was of celebration of our services and enhanced the vision to enrich people’s lives and create vibrant places. I hope as many residents as possible will take up the opportunity to experience our wonderful facilities and services and see for themselves how MonLife can impact on the mind, body and soul of our community.”


Monlife awarded top accolade for supporting disabled people accessing sport

Monlife is celebrating being given a top award for helping people with disabilities accessing sport.

The service group managed by Monmouthshire County Council was awarded the insport Silver Standard at Full Council by Michelle Daltry Partnership Manager, Disability Sport Wales on Thursday 16th of January.

The insport Development programme aims to support and deliver inclusivity for disabled people through a toolkit developed by Disability Sport Wales, supporting the inclusive thinking, planning, development and delivery.  This means that MonLife Active staff can deliver across the spectrum to disabled and non-disabled people at whatever level they wish to participate or compete.

By achieving this standard opportunities are widened, participation will increase, disabled people become more active and engaged and we have a nation who are hooked on sport for life.  This will deliver a cultural change in attitude, approach and provision of physical activity and wider opportunities for disabled people.

Throughout the four standards; Ribbon, Bronze, Silver and Gold, each partner is supported by Disability Sport Wales to grow their expertise and understanding of disability sport. With the aim of Partners becoming progressively more independent and able to demonstrate improved delivery and support to disabled people.

Councillor Richard John, Cabinet Member for Education and Leisure said: “Achieving the Silver award demonstrates the commitment to inclusion from MonLife and Monmouthshire Council to increase sporting opportunities for disabled people and our ongoing commitment in  playing a significant role in building sustainable and resilient communities, reducing inequalities and supporting vulnerable people.  Cabinet fully supports the journey to the Gold Accreditation”.

Michelle Daltry, Partnership Manager at Disability Sport Wales said “Disability Sport Wales wish to congratulate MonLife on their achievement of the insport silver standard.  It is a real testament to the calibre of work they are currently doing and have committed to do in the future, and will ensure the ongoing development of inclusive sports to disabled communities in the Monmouthshire area.  Congratulations to all involved.”

As MonLife continues on its insport Development journey receiving the Silver standard is a real testament to all staff involved.  MonLife are committed that all service areas will illustrate the inclusive cultural change by going through the insport accreditation with core aims to include its partnership working with Education, Health and Social Services.


Open Access Play Opportunities through MonLife

DUE TO HIGH DEMAND, THESE SESSIONS HAVE NOW BEEN FULLY BOOKED

Open Access Play Opportunities empowers children and young people to engage in a wide variety of play activities in a safe supervised environment.

Children will have access to a range of play based activities which will all be based outdoors for the Easter holidays.

The MonLife Open Access Play provision will take place at Abergavenny, Monmouth, Caldicot and Chepstow Leisure Centre.  All sessions are FREE and your child will learn new skills through a range of different activities and develop their confidence through meeting new people.

Following the current Government guidelines these sessions will take place outside and will be 1 hour and 55mins long.  There will be a maximum of 30 children per session per day and will run from 10am – 11:55am.  These sessions are for 5 – 11 years only.

To register your interest please complete the following form – you will then receive a call from the relevant Leisure Centre to confirm your booking.

To register your interest click HERE

Please be advised that if there are any changes following the Welsh Government announcement and guidelines we will communicate the cancellation of sessions.

Please click HERE for a list of FAQ’s


Active Travel Caldicot

Over the next two weeks the Council will be carrying out survey and investigation works along the route of the disused railway line in Caldicot to help inform design development for a multi- purpose Active Travel route from Portskewett to Caerwent. The focus will be on Phase 1 of the scheme as you will see in the link below

Caldicot Links Phasing Plan

These investigation works will start in Portskewett at the Cornfield entrance point (marked on the attached plan). To enable these investigations it is necessary for some vegetation clearance works to be undertaken. We would like to assure you that these works are being undertaken by the Council and other contractors and are being supervised by an Ecological Clerk of works.

The council will be undertaking consultation and seeking community views on the whole scheme in the next few weeks.

If you have any concerns or queries please don’t hesitate to contact us:
countryside@monmouthshire.gov.uk
01633 644850


Council to create community nature spaces for Monmouth’s Rockfield Estate

Monmouthshire County Council is to consult over plans to encourage nature to thrive around Monmouth’s Rockfield estate.  It follows a grant from the Welsh Government’s Local Places for Nature fund to undertake a study that involves residents in developing nine community nature spaces and designing enhancements for nature at four neighborhood play areas across Overmonnow.

Community nature spaces include areas for growing vegetables, flowers and fruit trees and tree planting as well as re-wilding areas into mini meadows, offering opportunities for residents to enjoy nature and for children to play.  In addition to providing benefits for residents, they also present valuable habitats for pollinators and other forms of wildlife.

The council has appointed specialist environmental consultancy Pegasus Group to carry out a detailed survey of the sites, public consultation, planning and design works.  This study will enable the community nature spaces to become a reality during the 2021/22 financial year, subject to further funding approval from Welsh Government.

The project is likely to involve transforming some of the smaller and less well-used amenity play areas into community nature spaces.  Meanwhile, the council will expand the playground at the central open space next to the Rockfield Community Centre to cater for children of a wider age range and provide more accessible play equipment.

Councillor Jane Pratt, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for parks and open spaces said: “Among the lessons that the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have taught us is the importance of a variety of good quality and easily accessible open spaces so families and individuals can spend time together outdoors experiencing nature on their doorstep.”

Councillor Richard John, cabinet member with responsibility for bio-diversity added: “This project is another step in the council’s journey to improve local environments and benefit pollinators.”

In addition to engaging with local residents, the council will involve other project stakeholders including the local county council member, Monmouth Town Council, Transition Monmouth, ACE (Action on Climate Emergency), Gwent Wildlife Trust, Rockfield Community Centre and NRW (Natural Resources Wales).

A short questionnaire about the project can be accessed via the following link: www.monnaturespaces.co.uk – also, anyone wishing to comment on or become involved in the project can forward an email to: naturespaces@pegasusgroup.co.uk


Tree Maintenance at Caldicot Country Park

In order to keep Caldicot Country Park an enjoyable and a safe place for you to walk, you may have noticed that we are currently doing work on some of our trees in our beautiful park. Don’t worry, this is all timed to avoid the bird nesting season and the trees have all been assessed for bat roosts (but none have been found). We won’t be long finishing this work, so please bear with us.

Here’s why we are doing, what we are doing…

  • An increase in pressure from footfall and more frequent flooding has placed a lot of stress on some of our trees, and their health is now starting to suffer. Some of the trees we are working on have become a safety risk with branches, and in some cases, whole trees starting to fail.
  • As the canopies of trees planted close together are co-dependent, changes in one tree can affect the life of another. So when we need to carry out essential tree work of this nature, we tend to do so in groups of trees rather than individually. This is why we have currently cordoned off a large area of the avenue in the park.
  • A lot of these trees that you can see along our avenue today, were first planted at the same time almost 150 years ago, which means that inevitably, they will all start to decline at the same time many years later. This time is now, so for us to ensure that the avenue retains its special value as an important habitat and landscape, we are adopting a phased approach to replacing trees rather than waiting for major failures to occur. We do this through a programme of selective tree removal to create gaps for replanting, and some careful pruning of other trees to reduce the risk of any failure. This all helps prolong their life and the special nature of the avenue.
  • Any new trees that we plant may be of a different species to the ones they are replacing. This will improve resilience against tree diseases, and help manage any stresses that may emerge in our country park in the future.

Thank you for your understanding and for helping to look after our country park so that future generations can enjoy it too.


Competition Time, help us name the MonLife Mouse

We need your help to name the MonLife Mouse!

Meet our new Old Station Tintern mascot. This lovely little Dormouse can be found between the pages of our brand new family activity pack – Explore and Create at Old Station Tintern.

The only problem is, our Dormouse doesn’t have a name! We’ve come up with all sorts of ideas but we bet can you can do better than us so we’re launching a competition called ‘Name that Mouse!’

All you have to do is click on the link below and submit your ideas and contact detailshttps://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx…

The winner of the competition will receive:

• A free copy of our new family activity pack
• A free ride on the Old Station Tintern train
• Free Family drinks and cake at our newly refurbished café

Deadline for entries is Friday 12th February 2021

Winner to be announced Wednesday 17th February 2021

This project is funded by The Sustainable Development Fund, a Welsh Government initiative supported by the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership.


MonLife offers online 60 plus fitness package

MonLife is launching an exciting new scheme offering support for people aged 60 and over to become more physically active.  MonLife’s 60 Plus Fit4Life membership scheme provides six months’ free access to online classes to include yoga, pilates, tai chi and gentle exercise with virtual coffee catch-ups – and guidance and motivation to help achieve increased fitness are included in the package.

The service is currently available online but as soon as the county’s four leisure centres at Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth re-open, participants will receive one month’s free membership followed by the attractive offer of a reduced £16 monthly fee.  In addition, MonLife will give away a starter pack including resistance bands, dumbbells and an exercise mat to the first 85 people who join.

MonLife will join with other Welsh leisure providers to deliver its 60 Plus Fit4Life initiative, made possible thanks to funding from Sport Wales and the Welsh Government.

Sport Wales CEO Sarah Powell said: “We want people in Wales to have a lifelong enjoyment of sport and by working with partners to help provide additional or supplemented offers that aim to specifically meet the needs of the over 60’s locally we hope that we see even more individuals from this demographic staying or getting active.

“Over the past year we’ve all had to think even more about how we keep ourselves healthy, probably in different ways to what we would have done prior to the coronavirus outbreak.  We know that being physically active is one way to help keep us mentally and physically fit, while providing a brilliant way to connect with others.  So I urge people to take a look through their local authority at the different opportunities that are available to help them do this.”

Councillor Richard John, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for MonLife added: “Our 60 Plus Fit4Life sessions will offer people over the age of 60 the opportunity to become more physically and socially active as we know how important it is to stay well, especially during this difficult time.

“Our committed staff will offer support, advice and guidance every step of the way to help keep up motivation.  We will continue to offer a wide range of digital fitness programmes for people of all ages to keep their minds and bodies active.  We look forward to welcoming the public back to our MonLife leisure facilities when conditions allow.”

To apply for the scheme click on: https://bit.ly/2NLFKou

#BeActiveWales


New partnership launches to support action for wildlife in Monmouthshire and Newport

Monmouthshire and Newport Local Nature Partnership has been established to build on the successful work of the previous Newport Biodiversity Partnership and extended coverage of coordinated action for nature to include the neighbouring county of Monmouthshire. Moving to a single, joint-authority Partnership will deliver projects and share expertise to promote action for nature and will allow the partnership to work at a larger than county scale and deliver more for wildlife and people.

The Monmouthshire and Newport LNP will carry out informed and targeted local nature recovery action to deliver multiple benefits, including contributing to well-being objectives and supporting a Green Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by providing expert advice and support and ensuring the best action is carried out in suitable locations to provide multiple benefits for people and wildlife.

The partnership has been strengthened by the Local Nature Partnership (LNP) Cymru project which is a nationwide network of partnerships covering every local authority and National Park Authorities in Wales, collectively constituting the LNP Cymru network.  The project is funded by Welsh Government via the Enabling Natural Resources and Wellbeing Grant (ENRAW) which started in 2019 and will run until 2022.

The Monmouthshire and Newport LNP includes a broad range of partners including statutory bodies, public bodies, environmental charities, friends of and community groups, academics, wildlife recorders and interested members of the public.  The partnership also works in alignment with the regional Area Statement and the Natural Resources Wales people and places teams.

The role of the LNP Coordinator (Sali Palmer) and Support Coordinator (Lucy Arnold-Matthews) is to establish local priorities for action and compile a Local Nature Recover Action Plan (NRAP). The partnerships input in to other strategies and plans and will run events and activities raise awareness, highlight locally distinct nature based culture and participation in citizen science projects. 

The LNP has already supported a project at Barrack Hill Site of Importance for Nature Conservation to restore the grassland and woodland at the site which will enhance the area’s ability to support nature recovery. There has been increased active conservation management, communication and engagement with local residents. Local residents will have better accessibility to well-managed, high quality natural green space which improves and supports health and well-being.

In Monmouthshire, the LNP have supported the Neglected Grasslands project restoring grasslands in three publicly accessible sites in Abergavenny, which have become even more important to the local communities during the recent coronavirus crisis.

Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Richard John said: “I’m delighted to announce this collaborative venture aimed at protecting one of our most important assets – nature. We have a wealth of beautiful wildlife across Gwent which helps our county thrive. This initiative is just another excellent piece of work ongoing in Monmouthshire to protect our natural environment, to ensure we can continue enjoying the benefits it creates for generations to come.”

Cllr Roger Jeavons, deputy leader of Newport City Council, said “We’re pleased to be partnering with our neighbours in Monmouthshire on this exciting project. The new local nature partnership allows us to expand our biodiversity work, and will deliver wider benefits for wildlife and people within our two counties.”

ENDS

Notes to editor:

The Local Nature Partnership is a vital resource in enabling public authorities to:

  • Play a part in nature recovery through increasing ecosystem resilience and restoration.
  • Act as a delivery mechanism to help address climate emergency commitments through the use of nature-based solutions.
  • Contribute to meeting the Biodiversity & Ecosystem Resilience (Section 6) Duty under the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.
  • Contribute to the Well-being for Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 duties including delivering objectives of the well-being plan.
  • Harness technical expertise and evidence to input into plans and relevant strategies e.g. Green Infrastructure Assessments and strategies.
  • Increase capacity to engage and recruit volunteers, businesses and non-traditional groups in nature recovery.
  • Flexibly work at the appropriate scale; regional, landscape, ward-level and individual site level.
  • Cross-boundary working between LNPs is facilitated by the Wales wide approach.

The local NRAP for Monmouthshire and Newport, will convey the aims of Wales-wide plan to: embed biodiversity through decision making at all levels; safeguard species and habitats of principal importance for species conservation; increase ecosystem resilience by restoring degraded habitats and new habitat creation; tackle key pressures on species and habitats; and, improve our evidence, understanding and monitoring.

Engaging with the LNP will help people, communities, public bodies, and businesses in Monmouthshire and Newport to reap a diverse range of environmental, social, economic, and cultural benefits based on collaborative nature recovery. Through the project we will aim to make more organisations and people are aware of the extent, and role, of the local nature on their patch. More nature recovery projects will benefit from specialist data, advice or support.  More partner organisations will be engaged in LNP activities. More people will be able to access, contribute to and benefit from nature-based activities.  Nature recovery and the benefits provided will be embedded in to local and national policies and decision-making at all levels. 

Barrack Hill SINC is located in a northern suburb of Newport and designated for its large mosaic of semi-improved wet and dry natural grassland, scrub, bracken and woodland. Neighbouring a small open space which boundaries a large housing estate managed and owned by Housing Associations, the site is badly affected by invasive non-native species and fly-tipping.  The LNP supported project to restore the site will enhance the area’s ability to support nature recovery, through increased active conservation management, communication and engagement with local residents. Local residents will have better accessibility to better managed, high quality natural green space which improves and supports health and wellbeing, which will lead to positive and responsible use by the community.

The three publicly accessible sites in Abergavenny are at Ross Road, Ostringen Close and Old Hereford Road Cemetery; they have become neglected with poor management and large areas of species-poor scrub (predominantly bramble and snowberry) encroachment. The scrub encroachment reduces the land available for the priority grassland habitats. The project will remove scrub, invasive species and carry out tree works, as well as agreeing appropriate grass management regimes going forward.  At the old cemetery, works have an additional heritage benefit as scrub will be removed from around monuments currently completely obscured by bramble. 


MonLife Leisure Centre Membership Update

We hope that you are staying safe and well during these difficult times. 

As you are aware following the Welsh Government announcement on 19th December, all MonLife Leisure Centres are now closed while we await a further update from the First Minister at the end of January.  Therefore, we will not be taking any payment for your membership for the month of January.

We want to help keep your wellbeing and fitness on track, so you can still access our NEW Live and On Demand service! Where you can carry on training with your favourite instructors wherever, whenever. Your membership will give you an exciting Virtual and Live group and personal fitness experience. The Live journey is designed to include social moments at the start and at the end of each class whilst focusing on your training. You will be able to track activities, monitor progress and generate results!

To enjoy MonLife Live and On Demand, simply download the MonLife App and click on MyWellness then MonLife Live and On Demand.

If you have any questions please email monmemberships@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Please take care and ensure that you follow the government guidelines at all times, click here for more information  Alert level 4 | GOV.WALES

Stay Safe and we look forward to seeing you again soon


MonLife One Year Anniversary

One year on, during these difficult times, we are closer than ever!

And what a 1st year this has been…

“On behalf of myself and my MonLife colleagues, I would like to thank you for being part of our first year since our launch in 2020. We have been humbled and amazed at your continued enthusiasm and support and having received such positive feedback across our wide ranging services, we look forward to seeing you all again as and when Welsh Government confirm it is safe to do so. I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to the MonLife team who have worked tirelessly during the last 12 months to support our customers and communities and I know they will continue to do so in the future. ” Ian Saunders, Chief Operating Officer.

In 2021, we will continue to keep our customers at the heart of everything we do and will carry on improving our offer to benefit your health and wellbeing. We continue to explore new opportunities to ensure that you can carry on with your wellbeing journey at home.

We have a fantastic NEW product that will allow MonLife members to carry on training with their favourite instructors and participants they know from their homes with the NEW MonLife LIVE & ON-DEMAND membership. This membership will give you an exciting Virtual Live group and personal fitness experience. Please click HERE for further information.

You can also explore MonLife Countryside by staying local for exercise with members of your household/support bubble.  Please visit https://www.visitmonmouthshire.com/things-to-do/walking-in-monmouthshire.aspx# for further information. 

To keep up to date, follow our social media accounts, like our Facebook Page, follow our Twitter account and subscribe to our Youtube Channel. We also have a MonLife App – click HERE to download.

Stay Home to save lives and protect our NHS.

We hope you all had a safe and healthy Christmas and wish you a very Happy New Year!