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  1. Easy Ways To Cut Carbon For The Environment

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    This article was written by Thomas Morris during a recent workshop held at the EVI. Community members volunteered themselves to create content focusing on environmental issues. During these video and blogging workshops they were taught the skills to create their own online content. This was all made possible with funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. Check out the related articles at the bottom of the page.

    It’s tempting to think that it’s someone else’s problem to fix our totally screwed environment. But we all have a responsibility to show the powers-that-be that we care about our planet and the human race’s future existence. I’m going to show you some easy ways to cut carbon in your daily life.

    Rolls of material for cutting carbon article

    Make it your outfit of the day, every day

    Apparently some people only wear an outfit once! Considering the massive amount of energy and resources used by the textile industry, this is a terrible idea! Think about how much money you waste by only using something once. Re-wear all your clothes. Look stylish every day and send a message to fast fashion – this has to stop!

    Move greener

    There are many ways to make your day-to-day travel green. The great thing about greenifying your transport is that it improves the local environment as well as the global. However, this may require some legwork (ha!) in terms of the politics.

    • – Use you car less by using alternative methods of transport when you travel alone
    • – When thinking about moving house, consider the public transport and active transport potential of your location. Let housing developers know that you won’t buy a house if it’s not near a railway station
    • – Write to railway companies to ask for more and better bicycle parking at railway stations
    • – Instead of buying a second car, consider an electric bike
    • – Educate your friends eg. did you know that hybrid cars are not as environmentally friendly as advertisers would like you to think? Many are worse polluters than petrol cars. (but not diesel)
    • – Instead of buying your own car, consider joining a car sharing club for the times when you need a car
    • – Ask the Government to subsidise active and public travel more than they currently subsidise private car travel through cheap fuel, free parking etc.
    • – Work to make streets and towns liveable and walkable – if our hometowns are utopian, we’ll want to go on holidays less and therefore fly less
    Wind farm image for cutting carbon article

    Switch to a green energy tariff

    Whilst all energy on the National Grid is mixed together (they don’t know whether it comes from coal or wind power) you can choose to pay your bills to an energy company that only puts electricity into the grid from sustainable sources. 

    Change to LED and double-glazing

    But not if you already replaced your lights and windows recently. This will save money. This is what the EVI has been doing with funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

    Take a staycation

    Commit yourself to one return flight a year if you can help it. There are probably plenty of places in the UK that you have never visited. Consider a multimodal bike-on-a-train trip for yourself or pack up a car with your whole family and head somewhere new. 

    You’ll not be contributing to the erosion of famous places like Venice by tourism, and you’ll be contributing your hard earned pounds to British local economies that are often suffering.

    Divest and boycott fossil fuel

    Don’t put money in banks that invest in oil. Ask your school, company etc. to take stocks out of oil. Check what your pension is invested in.

    Prepare when shopping

    If you’re trying to reduce your plastic waste, you need to be prepared when you go shopping. Bring boxes and jars to the shop with you, this way you can buy things loose but keep them clean. You might spend less also by only buying what you came for.

    In order to further reduce car journeys you could consider cycling to the shop or ordering online. Businesses can even consider getting money off a cargo bike through the Energy Saving Trust.

    Steak with red cross over it for cutting carbon article

    Eat local and eat less meat

    Beef in particular is known as a big producer of greenhouse gases. Cutting down on meat such as beef, lamb and pork is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

    However, even a vegan diet can end up costing the Earth if it’s all fresh produce being flown in from overseas. Look for food which is grown in Britain or at least Europe- this may mean adopting a more seasonal diet.

    Teach people how to recycle better

    Help the people around you to do better when it comes to recycling. If you know them well and they trust you then you’ll know how to get on their good side!

    Leave your lawnmower to rust

    Improve local biodiversity by growing your garden wilder- don’t mow or use grass. Here’s why:

    • – Obviously most mowers run on petrol or electricity, so that’s less fossil fuel being used
    • – You’ll be contributing to local biodiversity. In modern cities, bees, butterflies and many other insects will be looking for a place to nest. Your garden of delights – rather than a boring patch of cut grass – provides them with a handy home
    • – Letting your garden grow wild not only helps the planet but also functions as a local carbon sink
    • – Plant wildflowers using seed bombs and have a small pool – perhaps you could use an old tyre and tarpaulin to create a wet area for bugs. We did this at the EVI in our bugs and flower bomb workshop.

    So there you go, hopefully some of the tips above will help you to cut your carbon use and do your bit to help the environment. Just one person cutting their carbon use might not make much difference, but if we all decide to make these small changes then it can make a huge difference.

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  2. Planting Trees To Save the World?

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    This article was written by Jamie Lee Morris during a recent workshop held at the EVI. Community members volunteered themselves to create content focusing on environmental issues. During these video and blogging workshops they were taught the skills to create their own online content. This was all made possible with funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. Check out the related articles at the bottom of the page.

    Deforestation is the most unacknowledged environmental issue that needs to be recognised. The loss of trees and other vegetation can result in a plethora of concerning problems to the world and to our planet.  

    These problems include: 

    • – Climate change 
    • – Flooding 
    • – Increased greenhouse gases 
    • – Desertification 
    • – Habitat Destruction 
    Image of tree with text saying "Planting Trees Can Save The World"

    Climate change 

    According to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, deforestation accounts for more than 18% of all global emissions. That is more than the global emissions from all transport- outrageous! 

    Flooding 

    It also found that deforestation could increase the risk of flooding. Vegetation absorbs and intercepts water to balance water levels. 

    The South Wales Valleys are made up of impermeable rocks (sandstone in particular, which is popular with climbers), which increase the surface run off. This can result in floods.  

    Increase in greenhouse gases 

    Cutting down trees results in an imbalance of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere. This means that there is a rise in carbon dioxide levels. This contributes to global warming and the disruption of habitats from climate change.  

    Desertification 

    Deforestation is the main cause of the loss of vegetation in areas, thus creating a desert in what was once fertile land. This also destroys wildlife and the homes of animals. 

    Conclusion 

    It is evident that the impact trees have on the environment is major in regards to maintaining a sustainable world. Imagine a world with no trees and the detrimental outcomes that would bring. We can all make a difference. Help us allow the world to flourish.  

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  3. 5 Things You Can Do To Help The Earth

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    This article was written by a volunteer from a recent workshop held at the EVI. Community members volunteered themselves to create content focusing on environmental issues. During these video and blogging workshops they were taught the skills to create their own online content. This was all made possible with funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. Check out the related articles at the bottom of the page.

    There are many ways to help the Earth. Some are efficient, and some are not.  This blog will show you the most efficient ways to help the Earth along with the reasons why they are efficient. 

    1. Getting serious about water 

    We use water everyday in our lives, some people use it more than others but that doesn’t matter.  If there are any noticeable leaks in your home then make sure to fix them as soon as possible to prevent any water loss and to improve your local environment. 

    Another essential thing you could do with the water in your household is to turn off any taps that are being unused. For example, some people leave the tap on while they are brushing their teeth – wasting water that could otherwise be put to good use. 

    Tips to save water from the Energy Saving Trust.

    2. Installing smart technology

    Installing a smart meter in your home will let you keep track of the energy you’re using and it’s cost. Seeing how much energy your actually using might encourage you to make changes and cut down on your energy use. A smart meter connects through your Wi-Fi connection and sends your energy usage to your supplier meaning you don’t have to submit energy readings yourself. This gives you a more accurate bill based on the energy you’re using rather than a guesstimate.

    Installing a smart thermostat can also help you cut down on your energy costs. This allows you to control the heating in your home through an app on your phone; you can be at work and connect to your smart thermostat to turn the heating down at home.

    Further information about smart meters and technology – Energy Saving Trust

    3. Energy efficient light bulbs 

    We all use light bulbs- we couldn’t see inside many internal rooms without them.  A way to help the environment is to use LED light bulbs instead of the old tungsten bulbs.  LED light bulbs are more efficient, can be easily replaced, last longer and they shine brighter too! 

    The lighting at the EVI has been replaced with LED thanks to funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. Find out more here.

    4. Installing solar panels 

    Another way we can get energy is from the sun via solar panels.  Solar panels take heat and light from the sun and convert it to energy for our everyday usage.  Solar panels don’t produce energy at night due to there being no sun but energy that isn’t used during the day can be stored in batteries to be used during the night, or if there isn’t enough you can get still get your energy from the grid if you need it. Any solar energy you don’t use can be sold to the grid, which can make you a little money.

    Check out this How Solar Power Works in the UK information from uSwitch.

    5. Recycle and reuse 

    Recycling is a must if we want to save the Earth.  Recycling itself uses energy, so re-using is better where possible. There are two simple things you can do to start – reuse bottles to drink out of and ask your local council to add more recycling bins around town so that the oceans and local wildlife habitats can stay safe and clean. 

    You might find some ideas to reuse everyday items from this list on Recycling Guide – like using old clothes to create cushions or donating old egg cartons to schools.

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  4. 5 Steps To Live a More Sustainable Life

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    This article was written by a volunteer from a recent workshop held at the EVI. Community members volunteered themselves to create content focusing on environmental issues. During these video and blogging workshops they were taught the skills to create their own online content. This was all made possible with funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. Check out the related articles at the bottom of the page.

    In 2019 due to rapid population growth and urbanization, annual waste generation is expected to increase by 70% from 2016 levels to 3.40 billion tonnes in 2050.

    However times have changed and people have found amazing new ways to sustain the life we live and it may even change the future of humanity.

    Plastic

    Plastic pollution is a massive concern, polluting our oceans and harming wildlife. However major influencers like YouTuber Jeffree Star and other celebrities have become aware of the situation and are committed to making a difference. Star has released a metal straw that is reusable and eco friendly (compared to plastic straws, which can’t be re-used).

    Heating

    By using the heating system in our home, we increase the use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases. Most people have central heating systems in their homes and use them throughout the day. Everyone can reduce their use of their heating by wrapping up warm and putting on layers of clothing.

    Transport

    In 2019 it is calculated that over 79 million cars were sold. Though many people have cars, they require a great deal of carbon in production as well as for driving. More and more people are innovating in active transit, like cycling and walking. Cars are most helpful in situations where people have to travel long distances. Here’s a handy list of cycle routes in Ebbw Vale from RouteYou.com.

    Materialism

    Times have changed and, according to research, experiences result in longer lasting happiness for people as opposed to materialistic things that usually have limited meaning. Next time you want to show someone how much they mean to you, give them your time, and an experience like no other- one that neither of you will ever forget. Materialistic things are usually thrown away and forgotten about, which wastes away a small but meaningful part of our world. Here’s Going Zero Waste’s list of 50 experience gift ideas of varying costs from coffee to a holiday.

    Food

    Finally, by using leftover food from the fridge and freezer people can become sustainable. By keeping track of what they buy and throw away, you can waste much less food. There is also evidence that Best Before dates are often misleading and lead to people throwing away food too early. Check out some of these recipes from Love Food Hate Waste using leftover food.


    Overall the main idea of sustainability is to focus on the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In short we need to make small changes in the way we live so that future generations don’t make the same mistake.

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  5. Creating a Bug Paradise For Biodiversity

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    At the start of June a group of young people took part in a Wildlife Garden Workshop at the Ebbw Vale Institute. They created bug hotels and seed bombs to help pollinating bugs and improve the area around the building.

    Young people from Llamau, Act Training and Blaenau Gwent Youth Services took part in this special workshop run by Eggseeds, an organisation that delivers outdoor education teaching people about nature and biodiversity. The workshop was organised as part of a series of sustainability measures taking place at the EVI as part of a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

    bug houses being painted
    Painting the bug hotels in lovely bright colours

    Vacancies at the Bug Hotel

    The workshop began by building bug hotels, small wooden buildings that can house all kinds of insects and even some birds. These wooden structures will be attached to a big slab of AstroTurf and placed just outside the front of the EVI. This will create a small, elevated street for bugs to thrive in inside the community garden.

    Before the buildings could be made ready for the bugs to move in though, it was time to smarten them up a little to catch the eye of passers-by. The young people got to work by painting the bug houses and bug hotels!

    The inside of the bug houses
    Chalkboard roofs, with straw and bamboo filling

    Attracting the bugs

    “The three taller structures will mainly attract flying insects. Bees, butterflies and lacewings might like to nest inside them” explained Sam from Eggseeds.

    “We stuffed some of the smaller houses full of sawdust with just a few small gaps to get in. This makes it ideal for beetles to burrow through. We added larger round holes to some of the smaller houses too, to make an ideal nesting place for birds.”

    Once painted, the chalkboard roofs (good for writing messages on) were nailed to the buildings with power tools. The houses were then stuffed with sawdust and cut bamboo tubes. Sawdust stuffing creates a malleable environment for insects to burrow and nest inside. Think of all the extra surface area for their tiny bodies to slip into and crawl along. It’s hoped that the bamboo tubes will become a place for bees to lay eggs.

    finished seed bombs
    Seed bombs are a great way of planting wildflowers

    Bombing for blooms

    With the bug buildings looking fantastic it was time to move on to the next activity – creating seed bombs. Seed bombing is an ancient Japanese organic farming technique, a way of seeding which is kinder to the land and protects the seeds from birds and other wildlife. This is a great way to increase biodiversity in your local area. 

    They used seeds that sprout hardy wildflowers. As the seeds are encased inside hard-packed earth, birds can’t easily eat them, giving them time to start growing.

    dirty hands rolling seed bombs
    Getting muddy creating seed bombs

    How to create your own Seed Bombs:

    Step 1: Scoop up some wet clay and mix it with some soil. Roll into a ball and make a dent with your finger

    Step 2: Pick up two or three seeds and drop them into the dent. Any more and the seeds will be competing for resources and won’t grow to their full potensial

    Step 3: Knead the seeds into the centre of the ball

    Step 4: Throw the seed bomb onto any fertile or waste ground and hope that plants will grow

    bug houses in situ
    The bug hotels and houses standing proudly outside the EVI

    Be a wildlife hero

    It doesn’t take much to make a difference to the biodiversity of your local area. Why not take some of the ideas above and create a paradise for birds and insects in your own garden? The participants were really happy with the finished results and headed off home having learnt some valuable skills thanks to the Eggseeds team for all their expertise and hard work.


    This workshop was funded through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme through the WCVA. The EVI received funding to improve energy efficiency at the building, increase the local biodiversity and involving the community through volunteering.

    This is the latest in a series of articles on the many ways we’re promoting sustainability at the Ebbw Vale Institute. Read the others here:

  6. Tackling Plastic Pollution at the EVI

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    ‘Sustainability’ is everywhere at the moment, and the Ebbw Vale Institute is on board with this and has an on-going sustainability drive at the building and in the community. Back in April Llamau, a leading homelessness charity in Wales, held a plastic pollution workshop at the EVI for Earth Day.

    Llamau’s Laura Wheeler, who was hosting the workshop, is herself really passionate about plastic pollution. Laura started by showing the young people attending some shocking images of plastic pollution, like birds and marine wildlife being choked by debris or fishermen sailing through toxic reefs. She then asked them how that made them feel.

    How does plastic pollution make you feel?

    Sick“, came one answer.

    Sad“, said another.

    Guilty. Depressed. Ashamed. Shocked. Disgusted.

    Clearly, nobody is proud of the effect mankind’s hunger for plastic has had on the planet’s oceans. But how does it affect us?

    Plastic, plastic, everywhere

    It was time to think about the prevalence of plastics in all areas of our lives. There are microbeads in skincare products and plastic in polyester clothes. Things made of card, glass or wood can even have small plastic additions. When you wash synthetic clothes tiny plastic microfibres get into the water supply. The fish digest this plastic and then we eat the fish. They took a look at medical equipment too, like asthma pumps, drips, jabs and more. It was agreed that this was a worthwhile exception.

    The group considered the cost-benefit analysis of reducing our plastic usage. The average adult buys three plastic water bottles each week. If we stump up the extra cost for a nice reusable bottle, how long until we start making back that initial investment? When you’re on a tight budget, sadly, even a small initial cost can be a big deterrent. Should the government and big corporations be making it easier for individuals to make sustainable choices?

    Selection of plastic alternatives for plastic pollution article

    Making a difference

    One workshop attendee mentioned that her brother sometimes goes into the supermarket and dumps all his plastic packaging on the checkout. Discussing this as a group they decided that this probably just inconvenienced the workers at the supermarket and rarely got through to anyone higher up in management or the supply chain

    Laura showed some serious alternatives to plastic. When making sandwiches, for example, she packs them with beeswax wraps rather than cling film. You can use beeswax wraps as a lid on a jar too – pack it over the top and the heat of your hand will close the air gap. It’s antibacterial, nontoxic, and of course fully biodegradable. You can even make it at home should you wish to.

    Then Laura showed a whole series of packaging and plastic free products, from body scrubs to shampoos, probably one of the easiest ways to cut plastic quite significantly from our lives.

    One final tip from Laura: if you do have to buy something in a plastic bottle, buy it in bulk and/or in concentrate, thus reducing your plastic usage.

    All in all it was a really successful session thinking about what little steps could be taken to improve our sustainability practices.

    The EVI has been improving the sustainability of the building and running sustainability workshops as part of a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. We have already carried out work to improve the air heat pumps and the lighting at the EVI.

  7. Using Air To Heat the EVI

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    In an age where saving money and being aware of your carbon footprint is more important than ever, the Ebbw Vale Institute has been through it’s very own energy efficient makeover.

    We’ve already told you about changing all the lighting in this historic building to LED lights after receiving funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. In this article we’ll tell you about the changes made to improve draught exclusion and the heating source.

    The EVI is a Grade II listed EVI ran by ProMo-Cymru. We are a landmark community venue dating back to 1849. We provide a programme of creative activities, learning and social enterprise developments. A variety of third sector organisations have settled into the EVI and we welcome over 5,000 people a month.

    Banishing the drafts

    New automatic door closers were installed

    It’s inevitable that a big historic public building like this has draughts and this was a big problem when it came to the EVI’s energy bills. Doors were left open all the time so it took more energy to heat up rooms, empty rooms were being heated when it wasn’t needed and tenants were using electric heaters to warm their rooms.

    Following receiving £32,523 through the WCVA funded scheme we decided to use some of this to try banishing the drafts and improving the energy efficiency of the building.

    Automatic door closers were fitted on top of the doors. Automatic controls were fitted on the radiators, meaning they activate only when the room is occupied. This saves energy on unnecessarily heating an empty room.

    “We identified that the kitchen and the recording studio were the areas with the highest energy consumption,” explains Samantha James, Operations Coordinator at the EVI.

    “So we had energy meters installed and we took corrective action to reduce the power requirements in the kitchen.”

    Cold air and warm rooms

    Using cold air to dry hands saves energy

    The hand driers in the toilets were replaced with eco-driers, which use cold air rather than warm air. This should reduce energy consumption and reduce the use of hand towels.

    “Many of our tenants and hirers had been using electrical heaters to warm cold areas of the building. We’ve now installed energy efficient wall heaters which ensure safety and efficiency.” adds Samantha.

    “The heaters are on 10 minute timers and are invaluable when it comes to eradicating cold spots.”

    Using air to heat

    ProMo-Cymru took over the running of the historic building over ten years ago, saving it from demolition. The building went through a huge regeneration and energy efficiency was top priority back then too. Two state of the art air heat pumps were installed.

    The 40kW air source heat pumps were installed at the rear of the building and provided low-grade heat. These would work with the original cast iron radiators as well as installing SmartRads to keep the building warm. A gas boiler was also installed to supplement the heat pumps in extremely cold weather.

    Using air to heat the historic building saves money and energy

    Problems and solutions

    We carried out an inspection of the heat pumps when we were looking at making further energy efficiency changes and found that one was not operating. The pumps had been running at significantly different times on the compressors. There was a blocked condensate pipe with fluid leaking and the piping was too small and poorly insulated. The pumps were also operating at 50 degrees, which is expensive to run. It made up 41% of the EVI’s energy consumption.

    But we didn’t have the funds to fix these issues and repair the heat pumps, resulting in having to use the back up gas boiler in the winter. This caused a spike in energy usage, while the inefficient heat pumps were still running and increasing consumption further.

    “The funding received through the Landfill Disposal Tax Community Scheme came to the EVI’s rescue and allowed the repairs to go ahead,” says a relieved Samantha.

    “The EVI is once again being heated primarily through the energy efficient heat pumps.”


    Check out our other article looking at the changes made to the lighting at the EVI to help cut costs and become more energy efficient.

    This is a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.


    If you’re interested in hiring facilities at the EVi then contact us to find out more.

  8. An Energy Efficient EVi: Lighting The Way Forward

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    It’s been a hive of activity at the Ebbw Vale Institute (EVi) recently with lots of energy efficiency works going on thanks to generous funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme managed by the WCVA. All work is now complete and we wanted to let you know exactly what we’ve been doing.

    EVi cafe for Energy Efficiency article

    The EVi is ran by ProMo-Cymru. We are a landmark community venue that provides a programme of creative activities, learning and social enterprise developments. We are home to a variety of third sector organisations, welcoming over 5,000 people a month.

    One aspect of the work to reduce energy consumption at this historic building was the lighting improvements, which we will look at in this article. We’ll also take a look at why LED lighting is a good idea for all homes and buildings.

    Light Improvements

    A massive 21%* of the EVi’s energy consumption went towards keeping all the lights on. It’s a big building so it needs a lot of light!  (*Results of an energy review carried out by REW)

    “Our lighting was out of date and inefficient,” explains Samantha James, Operations Coordinator at the EVi.

    “The fluorescent tubes were constantly shorting out, some of the diffusers were broken and we were continuously purchasing new bulbs.” 

    The main hall is the biggest space in the building. The space has been hired out for live performances, conferences, exhibitions, private parties, weddings and more. But two banks of lights in the main hall were not working, not a great look when hiring out the space to people! But the cost of replacing them was high, not just because they needed specialist bulbs, but also scaffolding had to be hired and specialised electricians had to be called in repeatedly to fit them.

    Funding Success

    A solution had to be sought, and the funding received from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme made this possible.

    “We used some of the £32,523 we received to source state of the art LED lighting for the hall,” said Samantha.

    “The scaffolding and works were organised and carried out with no disruption to any of the groups hiring the hall.”

    And it’s not just the hall that’s had a lighting make over. The entire buildings lighting has been converted to LED.

    The benefits of LED *

    LED, or a Light Emitting Diode, uses up to 90% less energy. While a traditional bulb produces a lot of heat to be able to produce light, an LED uses far less heat to do the same thing and is therefore much more energy efficient.

    Lighting can make up to 20% of your energy bills so you can make significant savings by switching to LED. They also last, about 20 times longer than a traditional light bulb, meaning you don’t have to keep popping out to buy bulbs and change them all the time. Another bonus is that LED bulbs are also recyclable, as they don’t contain mercury like some older bulbs.

    The good news for anyone who’s thinking of changing to LED is that there’s been a big reduction in prince since they first came out, and it’s not just spotlights anymore either. There’s now a wide range available, like bayonet, screw or strip lights even. (*Information source: 7 Reasons Why You Should Swap To LED Lighting – thegreenage.co.uk)


    Check back with us soon when we’ll be looking at the draught and heating improvement works that have been carried out at the EVi.

    This is a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

    If you’re interested in hiring facilities at the EVi then contact us to find out more.

  9. Increasing Energy Efficiency At The EVi

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    The Ebbw Vale Institute is pleased to announce that we have received £32,523 funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. This is a Welsh Government fund programme managed by WCVA.

    We will be improving energy efficiency at the EVi increasing the local biodiversity and involving the community through volunteering and sharing what we learn.   

    The EVi 

    The EVi is ran by ProMo-Cymru. We are a landmark community venue that provides a programme of creative activities, learning and social enterprise developments. We are home to a variety of third sector organisations including Barnardo’sBlaenau Gwent Youth ServicesLlamauLeeders Vale, Careers Wales and Learn About Us.   
     
    Over 5000 people a month visit us here at the EVi, with a wide variety of uses and users for this community building. Reducing energy usage in a large building like this creates major savings and helps reduce our carbon footprint. 

    EVi outside for Energy Efficiency article

    Improving the building

    This year marks the 170th year of the EVi. It’s been over a decade since ProMo-Cymru took over the running of the building. When we originally moved in, we knew that it needed a lot of work to improve the fabric of the building. From the very beginning we worked with the future in mind. We installed two state of the art ground heat pumps to make heating more efficient. Thanks to this fund, we will soon be implementing a number of other energy saving features. We will also be involving the community as volunteers to help increase biodiversity around the building.

    Energy efficiency and cost-saving may not sound very exciting to those using the building, but it is very important to all that goes on at the EVi. This behind the scenes work allows the EVi to continue to support the local community. Over the next year we will be asking volunteers and staff to share what makes it such a special place to work and play. We are also excited to get the young people who use the building to share what they are doing. We will broadcast everything over our digital channels. This ensures that everyone gets to see the work that ProMo-Cymru and the community does to develop sustainability in Ebbw Vale.


    This is a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

    If you’re interested in hiring facilities at the EVi then contact us to find out more.

  10. INCLEMENT WEATHER ANNOUNCEMENT OASIS / FOREIGNER ‘S JOURNEY

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    Inclement Weather.

     

    Due to the RED weather warning in force for Blaenau Gwent, we have been advised to close the building this weekend. If you have tickets for this weekends showS, the rescheduled dates are as follows.

     

    Oasis Friday2nd March NEW DATE SATURDAY MARCH 10TH

     

    Foreigner’s Journey Saturday 3rd March NEW DATE Saturday APRIL 14TH

     

    ALL TICKETS VALID FOR RESCHEDULED DATES

     

    ANY REFUNDS AVAILABLE FROM POINT OF PURCHASE IF YOU CANNOT MAKE RESCHEDULED DATES.

  11. Evi

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    February

    How would you like to see EVI develop?

    Main Content Inline SmallWe welcome your feedback and ideas to help inform the development of this historic, vibrant community & cultural centre.

    May we request that you [and any colleagues, clients, friends who are affiliated with EVI] complete this short 3min questionnaire to  enable us to seek funding support to help restore our building & develop our facilities.

    We’d be most grateful if you could complete this short questionnaire by Thursday 1st March 2018.

    http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4203190/EVI-What-do-you-think

    Thank you for your continued support.

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    Family Fun Day – Wed 28th March 2018

    rch 2018Main Content Inline SmallAll welcome at the EVI Family Fun day !

    Wednesday 28th March, 3pm – 6pm

    Free activities, information & Easter celebration !

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    For more information…

    Main Content Inline Smallplease visit our website :

  12. 2017: An eventful year at the EVI…

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    2017 was a busy year at the EVi, the community and cultural centre at the heart of Ebbw Vale regenerated and developed by ProMo-Cymru. Chris Phillips, EVi Events Officer, looks back at the past year and the diverse and exciting variety of music and theatrical events.

    January is normally notoriously slow in the events business because of the unpredictable weather, especially up here in the mountains of Ebbw Vale. The fact that most customers are bereft of funds after the excesses of the Christmas period doesn’t help either. When we were approached with a guaranteed fee for the whole of January to use the main hall we were more than happy to oblige.

    An impromptu studio

    The Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) bandwagon arrived on 2 January. For the next four weeks, they transformed the hall into an impromptu studio.

    Guest musicians and all sorts of weird and wonderful instruments arrived on a daily basis, whether it was James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers or a glockenspiel. We had to keep the utmost secrecy. Visitors with prying eyes all wanted to know exactly what was going on behind the boarded up doors.

    Work finished in early February and we had our hall back. It looked eerily empty after the multitude of electronica and soundproofing had been stripped out. When the album was released in July 2017 it stormed the charts outselling Jay–Z in first few days of release. It finally peaked at number four in the UK Charts. Rather an impressive start to the year with more to come from the PSB boys with two sell-out launch shows… but more of that later.

    Interactive theatre

    2017 was definitely a diverse year and with the hall back in our possession, our first show was an interactive theatre piece by Be Aware Productions. The play was funded by the Arts Council of Wales. Written by Turkish playwright Meltem Arikan, directed by Memet Ali Alahora and starring Maddie Jones, Pinar Ogun, Francesca Dimech and Emma Daman Thomas. The show was in the form of a gig. Band members talked about experiences of sexual violence by real people through song and very dark humour. The show was very hard hitting and very thought-provoking and included a lively Q&A session at the end.

    A sell out tribute

    Along with the spring, March brought our first full house when the Bon Giovi tribute act sold 300 tickets. I’m told there were people so desperate to come that they were offering double the entrance fee to ticket holders on Facebook. The evening was such a hit that the Bon Jovi tribute act was booked again for December. That too sold out months in advance.

    Tribute bands may not be to everyone’s taste, and may not be everyone’s idea of art, but they are very popular. With a healthy balance of the real and the ‘fake’ we can continue to offer something for everyone.

    Charity fundraisers

    Charity events are always welcome here at the EVi. We had a fantastic night when Faith Parry put on an evening of acoustic music to celebrate her struggle with mental health. Her fathers’ band Mattraffia also reunited for the evening to raise money and awareness for Mind, the mental health charity.

    The fundraising continued in April with an event to raise funds for the local cinema. The local authority was threatening closure. Bands from all over the area played to a healthy crowd and the cinema was eventually kept open. We don’t know what effect our event had on the decision, but “every little helps”.

    UK Subs at the EVi

    Not all rock and metal

    There may have been some criticism in the past that there was too much rock and heavy metal at the EVi. April dispelled a lot of that. We had a night of hardcore dance with hoards of ravers in hot pants and waving glow sticks. We also had punk legends UK Subs performing a set of rarities and standards to celebrate 40 Years at the forefront of youth rebellion. Yes, youthful rebellion with Charlie Harper… a sprightly 73 years young!

    Summer lovin’

    The EVi can be hired for personal parties and events. In May the local vicar held his retirement event here. A personal highlight for me was my own daughters’ wedding. Throw in another sell out, this time from a Guns N’ Roses tribute act. The end of spring saw an eclectic mix of events at the venue proving we provide something for most tastes.

    The summer and wedding season really kicked off in June. We had a steampunk union that was an absolute joy and a pagan handfasting ceremony. It’s not all confetti and lace. The halfway point of the year also saw the return of a major musical event. Odin’s Rock Club held their fifth annual two-day festival with acts from all over the country playing.

    Showing gratitude

    Public Service Broadcasting returned for two sold-out shows to launch Every Valley, the album lovingly created in the concert hall at the EVi. Ever since the recording of Every Valley PSB Management and myself had been in constant email contact. We talked about the possibility of the band playing some shows as a thank you to the area for being so welcoming to these “middle-class Londoners” who came to write about their industry and struggles.

    The album was now ready and the dates were set and announced. The 400 general sale tickets were put online and sold out in less than two minutes. The band gave us 50 half-price tickets to sell for each night. The condition was that buyers had to provide evidence that they lived within 15 miles of the venue. These tickets lasted a little longer, about an hour and a half. People were waiting for the box office to open to get their hands on these “once in a lifetime” golden tickets.

    Media interviews with PSB at the EVi

    A huge production

    Most bands arrive in vans and PSB were no different, except they had four vans and a large truck full of rigging, lights and equipment. It was all hands on deck as myself and our local volunteers set about helping the crew. We put up the magnificent structure that held the giant screens and the myriad of lights. The hall was once again transformed. It was hard to believe that you were still in Ebbw Vale with the sheer size of the production.

    The morning of the show saw media arrive from across Wales and even journalists from France. Janice Long arrived from Radio Wales and held an extensive interview with J from the band. The show was to be streamed as a 360degree production. The EVi was a hive of activity and the way everything came together was miraculous. There were a few teething problems. The generator that powered the show was too big to get through the doors. They had to hire a crane as the driver would not leave it on the street. It was lifted over the fence and retrieved after the shows.

    Happy fans

    Both shows were fantastic and locals and the PSB fan club still rave about it six months later. A really lovely story came out of this too. After the first show, we heard that an eight-year-old in his pyjamas had been sat in the car park listening.  The show was for ages 14 plus but the child was a massive fan. I relayed this story to J and the management. They agreed that the boy and his parents could sit on the balcony above the bar with the bands’ guests and watch the show. The child got to meet his heroes and it was a great way to finish the shows off. It seems PSB hadn’t quite finished with us but more of that later.

    EVi Events Officer Chris Phillips with James Dean Bradfield

    Video shoot with a Manic Street Preacher

    July brought another three weddings and a funeral and a return to live action when Swansea rockers Buffalo Summer rocked the hall.

    August saw PSB return, this time with the Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield. They were here to shoot a video for their collaboration single from the album. They also kindly donated a Ludwig drum kit, Fender Stratocaster guitar and the bands old touring bass amp for young musicians to learn to play. All in all they are a great bunch of people and this was a mutually advantageous union with the album being the bands highest charting. Hopefully, there will be more to come in 2018… watch this space!

    Autumn Blues

    After a few tributes, engagements, funerals and children’s parties, musically the autumn saw the return of local heroes Henry’s Funeral Shoe. They brought their down n’ dirty blues driven rock back to the Valleys.

    Charity events started again in September with two nights in aid of Musicians Against Homelessness. Both were well attended and worked to raise the profile and funds of this fledgeling charity.

    Dan Reed performing at the EVi

    Hooked on the EVi

    Once acts play the EVi they invariably want to come again, whether it is the audience, staff or well-stocked bar, they usually return. Mike Peters of The Alarm has played twice. Most of the local acts have been numerous times. In October, rock legend Dan Reed made his third visit. It coincided with a 50th birthday for one of the Odin’s Rock Club booking staff. They had a party in a back room and all bought tickets to Dan’s show. So Dan basically played to a birthday party and full gig audience. Long after everyone else had gone home he held court for hours playing his acoustic and regaling with tales of touring with the Stones and other musical royalty.

    Paying with batteries

    Diversity in music and entrance fee came next when Heavenly Records brought the unique Make Noise event to the EVi. Instead of an admission fee customers had to bring an old electrical item to recycle as ‘payment’ for a gig featuring quirky Cardiff indie troubadour Sweet Baboo. The payment included everything from a handful of batteries to a chainsaw (well hedge trimmer but still vicious looking!).

    Orbs show up in photos during a paranormal investigation at the EVi

    Spooky goings on

    A paranormal investigation by the Ebbw Vale Paranormal Society made me uneasy to be in the venue alone at night for a few weeks. They found a fair bit of activity in the shape of orbs, voices and unexplained noises. I am more than a little sceptical, but it did make me think twice about certain things that go bump in the night in this very old building

    Motown and Indie

    I mentioned before that bands like to return to the venue and in November Big Mac’s Wholly Soul Band paid us their fifth visit to celebrate their 25thAnniversary. A sell out crowd danced the night away to the glorious hits of Motown. After the success of the PSB events, it seemed we were in demand by touring bands and SWN in Cardiff asked us if we could accommodate We Are Scientists for a late-announced gig as part of a whistle-stop tour of only three UK gigs. We gladly agreed and had a fantastic evening with the New York Indie Stars.

    The Church at the Brain Freeze Festival

    Brain freeze

    The saying goes you can never have too much of a good thing and that was evident when Charlie Harper brought the UK Subs back for another visit in late November. This was just a warm-up for the third annual staging of Pity My Brain’s Brain Freeze Festival. This event always delivers the best in local, national and international rock music with previous acts including Atomic Bitchwax and Crobot.

    On the menu this year was the lauded Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind, Church of the Cosmic Skull, Virginmarys and an outstanding array of local talent. Add in a record fair and local ales from the Tudor brewery plus acoustic acts such as Brandy Row and Aled Clifford and you get the best value two-day festival money can buy.

    The Church had the most people in a band on stage (apart from Gruff Rhys’ nine-piece band a few years back) and what a sight they were all bedecked in white (as well as a fair portion of the audience avec blanc). It was like a cult sermon but what a heavenly racket they made.

    Festive celebrations

    The festive season arrived and we had a tremendous party night with our own Dean Richards providing the cabaret, a free party for local children complete with buffet and magician, and another sell-out show from those Bon Giovi guys.

    In conclusion, what a year it has been, from international touring megastars, local bands at the start of their journeys, raves, thought-provoking plays, mediums, debates and all manner of family functions – hatches, matches and dispatches! Add in a top five album recorded at the EVi and you have a pretty diverse and satisfying year. Who knows what 2018 will bring but it sure has a lot to live up too!

    See you at the front!

    Chris Phillips

  13. BRAINFREEZE ON RADIO 6

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    The weekend of November 24th and 25th sees some Giants of the Underground arriving at the EVi as part of Pity My Brain’s Brainfreeze festival. To celebrate festival big wig Jamie Richards went on Radio 6 with Radcliffe and Maconie to chat about this unique event. Follow the link and click 2.13 in to hear about this diverse weekend, including Real Ales, Record Fair and acts of the calibre of Jim Jones and The Righteous Mind, VirginMarys and Church of the Cosmic Skull

    Click here to listen dont forget 2hr 13 min in

  14. CHRISTMAS AT EVi

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    We have gone Christmas Crackers here at Your Evi with events and parties to suit all ages and budgets.

     

    First up from November 25th and continuing every Saturday right up to December the 23rd you can have Breakfast with Santa in the 1849 Café. Your little darlings can come and have Breakfast with the Big Man himself and a little elf has told me there might be some early presents

    FURTHER INFORMATION

     

    Then on Friday 15th December we have a fun-filled evening, Ideal for small works parties or an informal get together. For £15 per head we offer a Hot Buffet, Live Artist , the magnificent Dean Richards all topped off with a party themed Disco from our resident DJ, factor in the most Diverse selection of Beers and Spirits in The Valleys and a fine time should be in store for all.

    FURTHER INFORMATION

     

    T’was the Saturday before Christmas

    On Saturday 23rd of December we invite you to CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN EBBW VALE,.

    Whoever said there is no such thing as a free lunch obviously hasn’t been talking to Santa because on this day we are offering a festive feast , sweets and fun packed Christmas entertainment. for all the family.

    The Event is supported by Big Lottery Fund and is free to all the family but tickets are limited must be picked up from the EVi in advance

    FURTHER INFORMATION 

    Don’t be late or Yule be sorry!

  15. We Are Scientists

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    Hot on the Heels of the Public Service Broadcastings shows, more Indie Heavyweights came to the EVi to perform an intimate show. It was a tremendous evening but do not just take our word for it, this is what the South Wales Argus had to say.

    IT’S not often you see a big name band come to a small venue, but We Are Scientists brought in a huge crowd on their visit to Gwent on Wednesday night.

    The indie rock band – who are well-known for their hit song Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt from their 2005 album Love & Squalor – brought a mixture of music from five of their top albums to the Ebbw Vale Institute.

    Lead singer and guitarist Keith Murray and backing singer and bassist Chris Cain not only got the crowd jumping but managed to squeeze in some comedy in between sets with some off the cuff humour.

    The band – who hail from New York City – managed to fit in quite well into the valleys and brought in some jokes about the terrible transport.

    And along with the free comedy show, Keith Murray made the crowd go wild after jumping off the stage and dancing round the room while singing 2005 tune Textbook.

    The whole band performed with an amazing energy that got everyone excited and entranced into the music.

    We Are Scientists make you feel like you are an actual member of the band with their relaxed show style and comical references.

    Their tour is one not to be missed – and lets face it – any band that isn’t from Wales that can properly pronounce Welsh town names is always a winner.”  Alice Rose

     

  16. FURNACE TO FLOWERS EXHIBITION

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    Gwent Wildlife Trust Photography Exhibition: ‘Furnace to Flowers – celebrating the past, present and future of Ebbw Vale’. 

    A wonderful display of photos depicting the beautiful progress made by the Gwent Wildlife Trust with their ‘Furnace to Flowers’ project.

    A transformation of the old steelworks site and road verges around Ebbw Vale into havens for wildlife and splashes of colour for the soul.

    These stunning images are on display in the Cafe area of the EVi from November 2nd 2017 until December 2nd 2017, feel free to come in and look around.