'Momentous' day as First Minister opens new community hub at RSPCA Llys Nini

'Momentous' day as First Minister opens new community hub at RSPCA Llys Nini

The First Minister of Wales, Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS, has officially opened an exciting new Swansea community hub for the RSPCA Llys Nini Branch. 

The new not-for-profit venture - called Yr Ysgubor (The Barn), contains an activity space, classroom and recycling suite, as well as Caffi Nini - and stands alongside the branch's Penllergaer animal centre, which rehomes and rehabilitates countless animals each year.

Funding for the project was secured entirely through grant aid - which isn't normally available for animal welfare. This included £400,000 awarded by the Lottery, £250,000 from the Welsh Government's Community Facilities Programme, £45,000 from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme, £20,000 from the Baily Thomas Charitable Foundation and £20,000 from the Moondance Foundation, the Oakdale Foundation and the Swansea Churches Act.

The community hub features state-of-the-art solar panels - making the building low carbon and low cost to run. Community activities will support and promote the Welsh language, history and heritage.

As well as officially opening Yr Ysgubor, the First Minister was given a tour around the centre. Children from Ysgol Gynradd Pontlliw also attended and sang a selection of songs in English and Welsh. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "RSPCA Llys Nini has become a pioneer in biodiversity conservation, a safe haven for wildlife, an education resource and a place to support well-being. I'm pleased we could support the development of these fantastic facilities, which will provide so many benefits to the local community and help attract visitors.

"It was great to meet the local volunteers, who are doing so much to help vulnerable animals as well as their important work in protecting the environment."

RSPCA Llys Nini Branch chair of trustees Sally Hyman said: "We are absolutely delighted to be officially opening our brand new building today (13 September) and we're honoured to welcome the First Minister to Llys Nini.

"It really is a momentous occasion and has been the accumulation of a lot of hard work and tireless dedication from everyone at the branch.

"We'd like to thank everyone who has made this possible, including all the funding providers who helped us achieve this. We have hoped to extend the facilities at Llys Nini for some time, and now Yr Ysgubor will act as a vital community space for our volunteers, school groups and the wider community.

"Llys Nini is an historic site and we look forward to furthering our work with the local community and schools to help people better understand local history and the rich heritage of the area."

Llys Nini - a branch of the RSPCA and a separate registered charity - was established by animal-loving volunteers in the Swansea and Neath areas nearly 200 years ago. The earliest records are from 1871 and show that Mr T Jeffreys was representing the RSPCA as secretary of the branch.

The first animal centre was hosted at Singleton Park and was leased from Swansea Corporation in 1935 where it was able to house 31 dogs and 18 cats.

In 1994, the branch bought the old Llys Nini farm in Penllergaer. The old farm house was an historic Welsh long house but was unfortunately in a very poor state of repair. Three years later the centre was opened - Llys Nini opened its doors to animals in April 1997 and was formally opened by Alun Michael JP, the then Secretary State for Wales, in 1999.

Today, RSPCA Llys Nini Branch continues to support animal welfare across South Wales and helps thousands of animals each year.

To find out more, how to volunteer, help and donate, please visit their website.

Caffi Nini will be open every day from 9.30am to 3pm. There is also an outdoor playground and over two kilometres of walking trails through the nearby woods and grasslands. There's also free parking. 

Sally added: "We can't wait to welcome so many people to Caffi Nini - meeting new and current supporters to our wonderful new hub. We invite everyone to come and try one of our PawNinis (paninis) or one of our CatPawCinos (cappuccinos)!

"You can also become a part of Team Nini and volunteer for us too! Please contact zoe@rspca-llysnini.org.uk." 

To find out more about Yr Ysgubor and information on facility hire, please contact the centre on 01792 229435 or email events@rspca-llysnini.org.uk.