Opening the door on the Welsh speaking community
This is the story of a group of learners in Southgate, Gower who have successfully integrated into their local Welsh-speaking community. Rob Evans from Swansea tells us the story.
So let’s start at the beginning - how did it all happen?
Some years ago, learners from Southgate, a village on the Gower, were worried that their Welsh evening class was coming to an end and that their opportunity to speak Welsh was also coming to an end.
They were not happy about this. They had been working so hard but had not found an avenue into the Welsh-speaking community. Was there even a Welsh speaking community in Southgate? On the face of it, the village was entirely English-speaking.
They decided to come together to form a group. The owner of the local café was supportive of the Welsh language, and his children went to the local Welsh school. He was very happy for the learners to meet in his café.
In the café, local people heard them speak Welsh and, to the surprise of the learners, some were Welsh speakers. They came over to speak to them, in Welsh of course.
They were soon invited to join the Welsh speaking society in Bishopston and were warmly welcomed. And from then on, they have been active members.
This sounds like a great idea - so now they’ve found other Welsh speakers in the area?
Yes. By doing something as simple as setting up a group in a café, they have discovered their local Welsh-speaking community. Since then, they’re no longer learners, but new Welsh speakers.
Do you think this would work in other areas of Wales?
I think it would be very easy to replicate the success of Southgate’s new Welsh speakers. Not just in one or two places, but in every corner of Wales.
We have 10 years until the next census and a chance to make a real difference. The 2031 census could show the success of our efforts and a message to everyone that the Welsh language is not only alive, but vibrant and thriving.
And what will be the next step in Southgate?
Who knows! But there’s no reason why this group cannot start other interest groups such as:
- Walking group
- Reading group
- History group – the learners within the Bro Ogwr community newspaper area have set up a thriving history group, which is open to all Welsh speakers in the area.
- Any type of group you can think of!
Thank you Rob for sharing the story of the new Welsh speakers in Southgate with us.
And for the rest of Wales - you have nothing to lose .... Go for it!