I recently visited some of the Welsh services and was greeted with a warm welcome everywhere I went. I’m so pleased to see staff encouraging and promoting Welsh traditions and culture, so the people we support can celebrate their Welsh identity.
Although Wales shares many customs with the other nations of the United Kingdom, it has its own distinct traditions and culture which our services are keen to keep alive.
Here are some of the homes I visited:
Uplands House is a residential home for adults aged 50+ where they take care of keeping Welsh traditions and the Welsh language alive.
Ann Peebles, manager at Uplands, said “Here at Uplands, we encourage the use of the Welsh Language; we have signage on doors in both Welsh and English and a ‘Welsh wall’ displaying information in both languages. This encourages the people we support to stay connected to their heritage.”
National emblems and St David’s Day
Wales is mainly represented by the symbol of the red Welsh dragon, but other national symbols include the leek and the daffodil. St David is the patron saint of Wales and his feast day falls on 1st March.
Traditional festivities include wearing daffodils and leeks and eating traditional Welsh food, including Welsh rarebit and Welsh cakes. A number of cities and towns across Wales also put on parades throughout the day.
Ann told me “For St David’s day in March, our national holiday, we plan to decorate the house with Daffodils, symbolising rebirth and new beginnings. We’ll also celebrate by baking ‘Bara brith’ sometimes known as Welsh cakes, traditionally known as bakestones.”
The Cedars, Monmouthshire
The Cedars is a residential service for female adults with a lovely, welcoming atmosphere. Shannon, the manager, showed me their ‘Welsh board’ which is decorated with a collage of a traditional Welsh daffodil, and an image of the Welsh flag.
The Welsh language is promoted at The Cedars and staff regularly ask the ladies which words they’d like to learn in Welsh. The ladies then choose specific words which are meaningful to them, then these are translated into Welsh language and displayed on the board for all to read and learn. Words which the ladies have chosen so far include:
- Happiness and fun
Another example of the Welsh language being encouraged: Individuals at The Cedars have always picked up the phone when it rings. Now, staff have taught them how to greet people in Welsh when they answer the phone!
Music is something that plays a big part in Welsh culture and there are many famous Welsh musicians, including Shirley Bassey, Aled Jones, Manic Street Preachers, Charlotte Church and of course Tom Jones! At The Cedars, music is a big part of peoples’ lives too.
Shannon told me “Every Tuesday, the people we support attend ‘Yam Jam’ – an evening of music and dance. They get up and sing, dance and play instruments such as the tambourine, bells and drums. They’ve made new friends there and absolutely love it. They look forward to going each week – it’s amazing!”
Cwm Hyfrd, Newport
I also visited Cwm Hyfrd in Newport, which is a residential home for male adults.
One of the Welsh traditions followed at Cwm Hyfrd is watching the Rugby on TV, where staff and the people they support, all gather together, to support and cheer on the Welsh team.
Rugby Union is seen as a symbol of Welsh identity. The Welsh national rugby union team takes part in the annual Six Nations Championship and has also competed in every Rugby World Cup. At Cwm Hyfrd, watching the Rugby is a sociable occasion for everyone and passions can run high!
Apart from sports, Wales has an impressive history and is so renowned for its number of castles and historic buildings, that sometimes it’s called the ‘castle capital of the world’! There are many beautiful castles and fortresses dating back hundreds of years, some intact and some in ruins.
Ron, who lives at Cwm Hyfrd, loves to visit historic Welsh castles and buildings. He recently visited Raglan Castle, and Castell Coch (the Red Castle) where he enjoyed exploring the history, the fresh outdoor air, walking around and getting some exercise.
It’s really wonderful to see how well the Welsh services are doing and that Welsh culture is being encouraged and kept alive!