AIL Gyfle in Llanelli was the spotlight visit for walkers leading The Big Walk, an initiative journeying across Wales to shine a light on fantastic communities and projects that make great things happen where they live.

An idea from the Eden Project made possible by the National Lottery, The Big Walk is designed to celebrate the people at the heart Wales’ communities, who work together to make a positive difference locally.

Ail Gyfle was set up by Sian Walters, who used to work in probation and wanted to offer practical opportunities to people to enable them to change lives. She said, “We started this place for nothing. We had a couple of pallets and some volunteers and started making furniture. It’s transforming lives and I know that it does. I’m very proud of what it’s achieved. I’m so proud of the people who come here. Their journeys have been amazing.

Jason Coffey describes how he got involved with Ail Gyfle, “I met Sian whilst I was on community service. She knew I was a joiner and she offered me a job. It’s changed my life completely. It’s given me a focus to change and a realisation that there is meaning to life. Helping other people has really helped me. Now I want to help pull other people out of the hole that I was once in. It’s hard to break a negative cycle and if you’ve never been shown a positive way of doing things, you don’t know any differently. You can’t underestimate the power of people pulling together and working together.”

The Big Walk is an annual event visiting different projects and community groups, meeting the people making a real difference to local lives, while sharing an invitation to everyone to bring their own community together for a Big Lunch on 3 June.

Jude Boutle from Llandrindod Wells in Powys has 363 miles to cover in 18 days, has been overwhelmed by the support of people and projects along the route and said: “It means the world to see such welcoming faces when we arrive at local projects. I was overwhelmed by the work done by Ail Gyfle. They are providing opportunities for people who otherwise might be forgotten by society and that is so important. I hope that the project continues to grow and thrive.”

Jude set off from Morecambe on 16 May live on BBC’s The One Show, as part of The Big Walk. She is one of eight walkers, in four teams travelling to the four corners of the UK, helping to spread the word about The Big Lunch, the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours on 3 June. The Big Lunch was launched back in 2009 with the simple premise that great things happen when you bring people together.

Peter Stewart of The Big Lunch says: “The Big Walk celebrates the great things people make happen where they live. The Big Lunch is a chance for people everywhere to build those friendships and connections locally, which help to create stronger, happier communities. Last year 9.3 million people had fun together at over 96,000 events across the UK – so give our walkers a smile and a wave, and sign up to bring your own community together for a Big Lunch on 3 June.”

Anyone can take part! Order a free pack and join millions of others across the UK for The Big Lunch on 3 June www.thebiglunch.com

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