Latest news & views


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.


Welsh Government Introduces Firebreak Lockdown

Dear MonLife Customer,

Following on from the announcement made by the Welsh Government today to introduce the ‘Firebreak’ we will be closing all MonLife facilities from Friday 23rd October at 6 pm until Monday 9th November.

The areas that will remain open for local use include all countryside sites, Caldicot Castle Country Park (toilets will be open 10 am – 4:30 pm), the grounds at Old Station Tintern (toilets will be closed) and Abergavenny Castle Grounds as well as car parks and play areas in Monmouthshire.

Our staff as well as the community are our priority and we would like to thank you for the support that you have shown MonLife over these last few months. We have received the most amazing feedback from our customers and we will look forward to welcoming you all back on the 9th November.

If you have made any bookings please bear with us as we will be in touch with you, however, if your query is urgent then please call the relevant MonLife venue.

If you have booked your child on to The Monmouthshire Games at one of our Leisure Centres then we will be in touch to discuss adding bonus points to your account ready for the next TMG programme.

Your health and wellbeing are very important to us and we will continue to explore opportunities to ensure that you can carry on with your wellbeing journey at home. Please visit our MonLife Health and Wellbeing hub https://www.monlife.co.uk/monlife-health-wellbeing-hub/ for further information. Here you will also find over 140 fitness sessions for you to do at home. Les Mills On Demand is also still available with over 1000 online workouts including Body Pump, Yoga and RPM that members can try for free for 30 days, then pay a reduced monthly fee of £7.94 per month 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 the MonLife app which you can download from the Apple and Play store now https://claritylive.myfitapp.de/a/8HRD?p=5?pv=1

Our customers, partners and colleague’s safety and wellbeing are at the heart of what we do. Please stay safe and try to stay as active as possible, we have some amazing places for you to explore in your local area by clicking here but please adhere to the Government guidelines to protect the NHS and save lives.

Memberships

We would like to reassure you that you do not need to do anything we will arrange any alteration to your November direct debit payment to reflect opening up on the 9th November and the days lost in between.

Swimming Lessons

As with the memberships, your swimming lesson direct debit will be amended to reflect the time lost during the ‘Firebreak’.

Our membership teams are happy to help with any questions you may have so please email monmemberships@monmouthshire.gov.uk or call 01633 644499.

As a valued customer we would like to thank you for your continued support, we will be dealing with a high volume of calls so please bear with us. For further updates please follow us on social media, download our MonLife app or visit www.MonLife.co.uk.

We would also like to extend our thanks to all the NHS Heroes, carers and keyworkers keeping us safe and looked after during this time.

We look forward to seeing you all again on the 9th November.

Stay safe, protect the NHS and save lives.


Countryside Sites And Public Rights Across Monmouthshire Soar 400% As Residents Enjoy The Outdoors

Figures from our counters show that there has been a dramatic increase (400% on Wales Coast Path) in the use of our sites and public rights of way since lockdown. Unfortunately, this increased usage has also come at a price of a rise in anti-social behaviour with more litter and problems with dogs. We are working on a campaign to promote responsible behaviour and safe outdoor recreation with Brecon Beacons National Park, National Trust, Cadw and Welsh Water. To help Natural Resources Wales have launched a new countryside code.

Only 1 route in Monmouthshire remains closed under COVID regulations but remains under constant review. Our web page “Stay Active, Stay Safe” is being constantly updated to reflect any changes. We have also updated our website to include the final Countryside Access Improvement Plan, our Delivery Plan and Countryside Access Policy, Protocol and Operational Management Report.

With our colleagues in Highways and Planning, Countryside Access is working in partnership with the National Trust and we are promoting the use of Fairfield Car Park in Abergavenny as an alternative to the Llanwenarth car park, to seek to minimise issues at that honeypot arrival point. The National Trust is finalising a new Sugar Loaf path guide to assist. Also, waymarkers have been sprayed on the pavements for the public to follow.
The team has been busy inspecting and ensuring our promoted routes are safe to use and we are pleased that we have now been able to assist The Narth Footpath Group to restart its activities to help with this. “Friends of Castle Meadows” have also returned and increased their usual task days, carrying out essential hog weed surveys and other environmental tasks. Their work has contributed to Castle Meadows Countryside Site in Abergavenny, being awarded a coveted Green Flag Award.

We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded a new improvement grant, by Welsh Government, of £83,412. The funding is being spent on materials for Penallt Volunteer Group to improve paths which will then help them promote a series of local walks. A new bridge and signage improvements are also being purchased to provide a new circular route in Llanfair Kilgeddin. Other funding is being spent to improve accessibility on routes at Llanbadoc, Undy and Rogiet Country Park, along with a new recycled boardwalk at Mathern and Shirenewton. Other funding for on-going maintenance and improvement projects has also been obtained for the Wales Coast Path and Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail and also for two Active Travel projects. Watch out for more information on these projects in next month’s newsletter and on social media as they evolve.

“Many thanks for enabling our Footpath Group to restart its activities. We had a good first working group on Friday with five volunteers and the new arrangements worked very well. Thank you for keeping them straightforward and practical and trusting us to get on with the job.

We have plenty more work to do over the coming months and look forward to when we might be able to set up some working groups with the wardens again to deal with some of the bigger tasks.”

Brian Mahony The Narth Footpath Group


Destination Management in Monmouthshire

The coronavirus pandemic, following shortly after February’s severe floods, hit Monmouthshire’s tourism and hospitality businesses particularly badly so we’ve been busy supporting their recovery.

We have launched a new town and village ambassador pilot programme in partnership with MCC, local town and community councils, GAVO, and Volunteering for Well-being. Ambassadors are already out and about in Abergavenny and Tintern ready to welcome residents and visitors and signposting them to local shops, services and attractions.* If you’re interested in becoming an ambassador click on the links to register your interest for Abergavenny and Tintern.

Most of Monmouthshire’s tourism businesses, including accommodation and attractions have also reopened. We’re encouraging visitors to look out for the ‘We’re Good to Go’ tourism and hospitality industry kitemark for reassurance that the business is following government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, ensuring processes are in place to maintain cleanliness and physical distancing.

We’re also encouraging visitors to look at our Plan your Visit page before they set off and check the things they want to see and do are open and where facilities like toilets are available. Many of our attractions need booking in advance such as our newly reopened museums located in Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth, and staffed Cadw sites at Chepstow and Raglan castles and Tintern Abbey.

For more ideas on what to see and do in the area, check out the Visit Monmouthshire website.

For more information, the full role description, criteria and applications visit:
Tintern Ambassador Pilot Programme
Abergavenny Ambassador Pilot Programme


MonLife Outdoor Adventure

The Adventure ahead

Undy Primary school were one of the last school groups to attended Gilwern Outdoor Education Centre before the lockdown restrictions were introduced. 44 smiling faces appeared on Wednesday morning full of anticipation and a dash fear about the adventurous program Mr Jones and I had planned and for many the first few nights away from home. Caving, canoeing, forest skills and a session in the high ropes were planned over the two and a half-day residential so it was busy from the start.

Beds made, sandwiches packed, equipment issued and they were off to the beautiful locations that surround the centre and over the next few days’ memories and experiences are made that stay with you for a lifetime.
I can always tell how a school group is engaging by the instructors’ feedback and as normal Undy were fantastic. The staff pride themselves on supporting and encouraging individuals when it’s needed but also allowing those who require that extra challenge the chance to test their abilities. For one young person just putting on the climbing harness and being on the wall is a massive achievement as is racing to the top as many time as possible for another. This is where the skill and experience of the staff are required and that’s why when outdoor learning is done correctly, it’s so positive for the development of pupils and translates back into the classroom and life. I look forward to the day when we can start delivering adventurous outdoor activities and seeing those smiling faces again.

The Adventurer seeker “I enjoyed this trip it showed that I could do much more than my belief. The caving was very fun because I can challenge myself, forest fun was good because I could learn to survive and canoeing was fun because we learnt how to save someone if their boat sunk. All around Gilwern was a life-changing experience. I am very thankful that we went. I enjoyed caving the most because I learnt not to give up and I tried things that I hadn’t done before”

Undy Pupil


Celebrating Monmouthshire Summer Activity Hubs

Over the last few months during this very different period, MonLife were able to demonstrate how they can collaborate effectively to deliver programs that positively impact young people in Monmouthshire.

At the start of the summer holidays MonLife we asked to provide a program for children aged 5-12 to access daily activities. In normal circumstances, The Monmouthshire Games is usually delivered within the four MonLife leisure centres. However, due to the pandemic, it required an adapted program to be devised and collaborative work.

With the help of services from sports development, youth service and leisure the Monmouthshire Summer Activity Hubs were developed. It was essential that the program had a variety of activities, risk assessed and following government guidelines to keep the children and staff safe.

“The Monmouthshire Summer Activity Hubs were a perfect example of MonLife employees coming together to provide a great experience for our young people. The feedback from the parents and children was positive and they enjoyed being able to interact with their friends from school as well as creating new friendships. We hope this gave the children some form of normality before going back to school in September”. – Sports development officer

The expertise of people within these services created a variety of activities for the children to complete from team building games, sports to arts and crafts. The impact of this program positively affected young people in Monmouthshire and in some instances it was the first opportunity that children had to reengage with others since the lockdown. The Hubs provided a safe environment for children to be able to interact and socialise together, which is reflected in the feedback gathered during the summer.

The delivery of the hubs also provided the parents and carers in the community with a scheme that they can trust and they can restart some normality of work. In addition to this, it provided staff with the opportunity to return to the workplace and reengage with the community.

Following on from the success of the Summer Activity Hubs we are very excited to announce that The Monmouthshire Games will be returning this October Half Term. Keep an eye out on our social media for the latest news and to register your interest as there will be limited spaces available!


MonLife Heritage Museums Welcomes Back Customers

We are delighted to announce that all the museums across MonLife are open again. Chepstow Museum and Monmouth Museum will be open Tuesdays 11 am-2 pm and Saturdays 1 pm-4 pm, whilst Abergavenny Museum will be open Thursdays 11 am-2 pm and Sundays 1 pm-4 pm.

During the summer we spoke to staff and carried out a survey, which was answered by over 170 people to find out what we could do to make visitors and staff comfortable when visiting the museums.

Visits are on a free pre-booked basis only and are for 45-minute slots. One slot is available for a group of up to 6 people from the same household or bubble. We have divided each of the museums into timed zones and during your visit, your group and a member of staff will be the only people within this zone.

We have various safety measures in place. Hand sanitiser is a requirement at the point of entry and staff will be cleaning throughout. All staff and visitors will be required to wear face coverings.

We are really pleased to be opening our shops and whilst we have been closed we have reviewed our offer which means there is currently a sale on in all the museum shops, so please take the opportunity to come and pick up a bargain. Please note we are only accepting card payments.

I would be pleased to see the staff again; they are always pleasant and it adds to the trip.

Customer Feedback

For full information on what your visit will look like and to book tickets with us, go to https://www.visitmonmouthshire.com/things-to-do/museums.aspx We will also be posting any available slots on the day outside the museums.

Our staff are all looking forward to welcoming you back to our sites.

We are thrilled to be re-opening the museums. Communicating the heritage of Monmouthshire to our visitors is what we are about and being able to do that face to face, in a safe way, is something we are all really pleased to do once more.

Rachael Rogers, Museums and Arts Manager


Art History Online from MonLife Heritage Museums

Chepstow and Abergavenny Museums’ Popular Art Appreciation Courses – GO ONLINE!

Beginning in Welsh Museums Festival Week…

Now you can join us from wherever you are in the world for a course of 8 one hour talks about

THE TREASURES OF THE ROYAL COLLECTION

Explore one of Europe’s most extraordinary collections of art – and the taste, talent, power and passion behind it. From Breughel to Titian, Van Dyck to Landseer, along with exquisite porcelain, furniture and jewels.

In an hour-long Zoom talk each week for 8 weeks, popular Monmouthshire lecturer Eleanor Bird will discuss some of the key works in this amazing collection, setting them in their art historical context.

Our courses start in and in celebration of, Welsh Museums Festival week this year

There are two opportunities for you to join us online:

Mondays 2:00 – 3:00 pm, from 26th October to 14th December 2020

or Wednesdays 10:30-11:30 am from 28th October to 16th December 2020

ADVANCE BOOKING ESSENTIAL. Book by midnight Thurs 22nd October

Course fee £40. Booking is online-only, not via the Museum. To book: www.visitmonmouthshire.com/art-history

If you have any problems making the online booking please contact Kevin Ford who manages the site, his e-mail is kevinford@monmouthshire.gov.uk or phone him on 01633 644842 and he will help you through it (any working day 9-5)

Unlike many grand European art collections, the Royal Collection has survived for us to enjoy today. This despite most of its works being sold-off by Cromwell during the Civil War – and then forcibly reacquired – and despite centuries of criticism of its ostentation and cost. As well as examining many beautiful paintings, the course will explore the taste, talent, power and passion behind their acquisition. In particular, we look at Charles I’s dangerous obsession for collecting which began when he crossed Europe in disguise to meet a possible Spanish bride, and the passion for gift-giving between Victoria and Albert, who catalogued and expanded the Collection to include both mediaeval altarpieces and the latest photography.

Works covered will span the centuries from the early Renaissance to the 19th-century masters, including Breughel, Holbein, Leonardo, Titian, Van Dyck, Tintoretto, Turner and Landseer. Along the way, the lectures will touch on everything from solid silver furniture to Roman cameos to the glittering jewels which are the now-controversial spoils of Empire.


MonLife Active Develop Digital Channels During Lockdown To Keep Residents Active And Engaged

Following the closure of MonLife Leisure Centres on the 20th March we decided to go digital to ensure our customers could continue their journey with us.

MonLife Active Fitness Instructors started recording Classes and Workouts such as Yoga, Tai Chi and HIIT and sharing them via the newly formed MonLife YouTube channel which now has more than 150 classes, and can be viewed at any time for FREE https://www.youtube.com/c/MonLife/videos 

“Your well-being workouts have been a huge part of keeping me feeling rooted and connected to our old lives. Thank you team”

The digital platforms started to develop quickly and enabled the staff to use Zoom classes as the platform for customer interaction and coaching element that both members and instructors enjoy so much, with 3 classes being offered each day with a post-class Coffee Catch Up. 

The MonLife Active NERS Team also wanted to support people in the local community by organising a fundraiser using Zoom classes to support people living with Mental Health in Wales during the COVID-19 Pandemic, which raised £619.00 

Additionally, using the Technogym My Wellness App “Stay at Home” Physical Activity Challenge, which provided new workouts every day and a Walk/Run The Monmouthshire Way Challenges were created to provide support and motivation to over 200 members while they waited for our centres to re-open.   

“Thank you guys, all of you at Monmouth leisure centre have gone above and beyond. Truly amazing people”

We look forward to finding new and innovative ways to stay in contact with the members of our community to keep supporting both their physical and mental wellbeing. 

We have also launched our brand new MonLife App, keep up to date with news, timetables, activities and more, simply download it from the Apple or Play store. Your Leisure Centre in your pocket!


Serenity treatment rooms have officially re-opened at Monmouth Leisure Centre.

Autumn is upon us and it is time to relax and unwind at Serenity Treatment Rooms.

Indulge in a warming hot stone massage where muscles are deeply penetrated with warm rocks, and unwind whilst smelling the aromatic oils of elemis body oils and candles.

Or treat your hands and feet with Deep hydrating treatments, perfect for repairing feet after the summer, and dry, damaged hands from alcohol gel.

We also have a great range of skincare to bring your spa to your home.

There isn’t a better time to look after your skin.

Here at serenity treatment rooms, we offer a wide range of skincare products that are suitable for all skin types, whether you have oily or combination skin too dry, dehydrated skin. We have it all here for you. We have some exclusive gift sets ranging from £60 – £100, the perfect gift for that someone special, or perhaps you are in need of a skincare regime and it’s now time to invest in you.

And that’s not the only good news, we are excited to have a new member of the team, Abi. Abi has worked in beauty for 20 years. She is wonderful and will be a great addition to Serenity Treatment Rooms, bringing so much talent and experience. Abi cannot wait to start delivering our many treatments to you and giving you an outstanding experience. Vicki, who has been with us from the beginning has also shared the joy she has in being able to deliver outstanding treatments to our amazing customers.  

Vicki and Abi have shared with us how customer’s health and well-being is at the forefront of what we do. Therefore, we are following all COVID guidelines delivered to us from the government, completed a COVID-19 course for beauty salons, and will continuously keep up with current guidelines.

After what has been a challenging time for many during the last 6 months, there’s not a better time to come to Serenity Treatment Rooms. Download our MonLife App by clicking here https://claritylive.myfitapp.de/a/8HRD?p=6 

There is something for everyone here. And we look forward to seeing you.  


Leisure Providers in Gwent Join Together to Keep Customers Active During Lockdown

Leisure Providers in Gwent Join Together to Keep Customers Active During Lockdown

Following the most recent announcement from Welsh Government, additional lockdown restrictions have been put into place in several areas across South Wales. The importance of physical activity has never been more important and with this in mind leisure providers have joined together across Gwent to help keep customers active.

Customers who have a membership with a leisure provider in counties across Gwent, which they will be unable to access due to local lockdown restrictions, will instead through this innovative partnership be able to attend their local gyms or leisure centre whilst the local lockdown remains in place.

This new initiative, called Active Gwent, includes Aneurin Leisure (Blaenau Gwent), Caerphilly County Borough Council Sport & Leisure Services, MonLife (Monmouth), Newport Live and Torfaen Leisure Trust.

This means that customers who live in Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Torfaen, Monmouthshire or Newport who are currently members of leisure providers outside of their local area which they are now unable to access, can be given an Active Gwent membership to attend leisure services in their own county as part of this new partnership.

This will be available until 31st October 2020 initially and kept under review following Welsh Government updates. Customers continue to pay their existing membership fees and will remain members of their usual leisure provider. When local lockdowns are lifted, they will be able to return to their usual facilities. Members who are eligible for this will be contacted by their local leisure provider with more details on how to gain access.

The Active Gwent initiative has been introduced to help support communities in Gwent with remaining physically active whilst restrictions remain in place. All of the leisure providers taking part remain committed to the safety of staff and customers with additional guidelines in place including enhanced cleaning regimes and social distancing.

Steve Ward, Chief Executive at Newport Live said “We are thrilled to be joining with other leisure organisations across Gwent to strengthen the Active Gwent partnership. It is important to be able to help people with keeping active and to support their health and wellbeing, even more so during these challenging times. This new initiative means that despite local lockdowns, customers will still have seamless access to take part in sports and activities in their local area.”

Phill Sykes, Director of Operations at Aneurin Leisure Trust added “Our mission is to improve community life.  We’re delighted to work in partnership with Active Gwent to provide members outside of the borough with the opportunity to continue their fitness activity whilst the local restrictions are in place, through this reciprocal agreement.”

Angharad Collins, CEO Torfaen Leisure Trust said “WE are delighted that in the face of adversity in our sector that we have been able to collaborate with other colleagues in Gwent for this ground-breaking project.  Our ultimate aim is to ensure that the citizens of Gwent can continue to be physically active in our COVID safe environments.  I strongly encourage you to get in touch with your existing provider to take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

Cllr Richard John, Cabinet Member for MonLife said “This fantastic news means that people can continue to keep fit and well at a local leisure centre as winter approaches – regardless of their home address in Gwent. This is a great example of how we are working in partnership across Gwent to support people – I would like to thank everyone who has made this happen.”

Cllr Ross Whiting, the Caerphilly County Borough Council Cabinet Member for Learning and Achievement commented “The collaboration between leisure trusts and councils from across Gwent is a fantastic initiative that will allow residents of Caerphilly and the wider Gwent area to keep active in a time when customers need physical activity the most.

“I am delighted that leisure providers from across Gwent have come together to find a solution that is in the best interest of the people that matter – our residents. Thank you to all officers who have made this possible and to our customers who have been patiently waiting to return to their favourite facilities once again.”

More details about participating leisure providers can be found at the websites below.
Blaenau Gwent – AneurinLeisure.org.uk
Caerphilly – Caerphilly County Borough Council Sport & Leisure Services
Monmouthshire – MonLife.co.uk
Newport – NewportLive.co.uk
Torfaen – Torfaen Leisure Trust

The latest information on local lockdowns from Welsh Government can be found here: https://gov.wales/local-lockdown