Community Champion – Leanne Dower

Leanne Dower, Phoenix Centre, Hill Community Development Trust, Townhill, Swansea

Leanne is the Centre Manager at the Phoenix and has been in situ for several years.  She started her journey as a volunteer at the Centre and has grown from community member to volunteer to the centre manager.  She is very passionate about the Development Trust and under her guidance the Centre has grown.  Townhill is a an area of high deprivation and poverty so the Centre has provided a much-used and loved facility for residents to learn new ICT Skills, there is a café run by a small team employed by the Trust, which provides some much-needed income for the Centre , an all-weather sports pitch, local community library, meeting rooms for hire, drop-off point for the food bank and a Nursery with affordable childcare to encourage residents to seek employment.  The Centre really is the core of the community providing essential support for all the Townhill residents to access.

In April this year, Leanne helped by the Local People Project set up the area’s first local food bank.  This facility has grown so much since then due to the increased need because of the loss of jobs of those on furlough during the lockdown.  A delivery service providing essentials to those who need extra help and support was also launched and is run superbly by volunteers at the Centre.

Throughout the school holidays a summer club for youngsters aged between 5 and 11 was set up, providing a source of entertainment beyond their homes for local youngsters.

At the heart of all these projects is Leanne Dower.  She is from the area and knows too well the issues affecting its community including poverty, crime and anti-social behaviour.  During the pandemic, Leanne has kept the centre going and the café offered a take-away facility.  In addition, she set up the Community Mile walking group in July to assist people with the mental health and well-being due to the lack of play facilities and play areas in Townhill, with healthy refreshments available in the café afterwards.  I am aware that this was a lifeline for many who had become isolated during the lockdown.  The Local People Project driven by Leanne also pledged to raise money for a local individual who was diagnosed with leukaemia by walking.  A team of 27 people aimed to walk 7 million steps to raise money for this local youngster and her family.  However, they smashed their target by walking just under 10 million.  Leanne was the driving force behind the challenge and kept a close eye on everyone’s tally.  She set up a master sheet and notice board at the Phoenix so everyone could monitor the teams participating and/or donate to the fundraiser.  To date the community have raised over £1000.

From the food bank, walking group, job club, community choir to the Knit and Natter group, the beating heart at the Phoenix is Leanne Dower.  She gives up much of her free time, as well as her paid time, to champion the local people of Townhill.  She encourages everyone to work hard to improve their living conditions and circumstances .  She provides a friendly and welcoming face to all who has the opportunity to visit the Centre.  She is a hard-working community champion, who richly deserves success and recognition.