Diocesan press releases

Tithe Barn to become Welsh Centre of Excellence

On the Eve of St David’s Day it was announced that the Tithe Barn will become a Welsh Centre of Excellence.

The word ‘croeso’ will take on a special meaning as a ground breaking Welsh Language Centre of Excellence is set to open its doors at the Tithe Barn in the centre of Abergavenny town.

The Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is delighted to be working in partnership with the local community.

Welcoming the news, Canon Mark Soady said: “I am very excited to be working in partnership with the local Health Authority and other interested parties to create this legacy of the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny. When the Church took the Tithe Barn back in to its ownership 10 years or so ago we did so with the intention of creating a heritage centre; adding a Welsh Centre of Excellence to that seems a natural and appropriate progression.”

The Welsh Language Centre of Excellence will build on the legacy of the hugely successful NHS stand at the 2016 National Eisteddfod, held on the Castle Meadows. Rhiannon Davies, Welsh Language Officer with the Health Board has been instrumental in driving this initiative forward, the first of its kind for NHS Wales.

Rhiannon said: “Visitors to the NHS stand at the Eisteddfod told us how pleased they were to see the Health Board there and how important it was for them to have their voices heard. Those who had used our services emphasised how essential language is to ensure safe, high quality healthcare. It is a well-known fact that Welsh speakers feel more confident in expressing themselves in their first language so effective communication is key to this. For many, it is not a matter of choice but a matter of need.”

The Welsh Language Centre of Excellence will provide a warm and welcoming environment that will be fully bilingual. It will help our staff to better understand the needs of Welsh speakers and will provide training at all levels. There will be an opportunity for the community to meet with staff and to discuss any concerns in relation to the Welsh language and their health care. It will be somewhere where you will be able to hear Welsh being spoken as a normal part of day to day life and will be a hub for Welsh language activities.

Rhiannon added: “The Health Board holds events with Welsh speakers to hear what matters to them. Time and time again, they tell us how important it is to be able to speak to somebody face to face in their first language and to hear those words of comfort when receiving health care. The last census showed an increase of Welsh speakers in Monmouthshire in particular and it is timely for the Health Board to review its capacity to respond to this. Children and older people who are Welsh speakers are vulnerable when they do not have the opportunity to converse in their first language. This is particularly true for someone who has had a stroke or who has dementia.”