In 2004 a group of friends established the charity and raised funds to purchase the old farm to develop it as a community skills hub and cultural centre. People came from far and wide to help transform the land, cultivate gardens and help build the new facilities. Where formerly there was only one, exposed, windswept 23 acre field: we have a biodiverse patchwork of gardens and pastures with thousands of young trees, public access footpaths and a range of workshops and visitor resources.
Over 600 people have volunteered here, we've hosted craft apprentiships, accredited courses and business enterprise workshops. We provide a year round, rich cultural programme of events and activities. Locally we've initiated a state of the art community kitchen to help seed new local produce enterprises and supported former apprentices to set up their own craft businesses within their communities.
From small beginings we have grown to become one of the most celebrated grass-roots environmental and cultural initiatives in Wales with an international support base of former interns and volunteers extending to over 30 different countries.
CLAS - A Centre for Living Arts and Science
At the heart of our vision is to create an experiential campus based on a holistic learning approach, where young people can join a six month or one year Initiative Programme. This will involve a balance of practical skills learning and dedicated study time. Small business enterprise based at the centre can provide an opprtunity for students to work alongside experienced practitioners and craftspeople, gaining specialist skills and a sound understanding of the varied aspects of running a small business enterprise.
Students will be resident at Felin and will take an active part in the day to day running of the centre, from the cultivation of organic food in the gardens through to catering for visitors in the cafe, stewarding events and office administration work. This will provide a broad experience of how an enterprise is manged and run, alongside apprentiship training in specific craft or land based skills.
Many young people feel the need to combine what they have learned in school or university with some grounded practical experience in order to consolidate their learning and to enhance their opportunities to gain further employment. Many of us come through education with some of the know but look for further experience to gain the how. The practical, enterprise and life skills gained through working as an apprentice in a real life business context is worth its weight in gold.
As a Green Enterprise Centre: the business initiatives based at the new eco-facilities will be able to take advantage of combined resources such as shared marketing, studio, public gallery, shop and exhibition spaces.
The Llyn Peninsula's unique environment and Felin's holistic approach has an international appeal; our internship and volunteering opportunities over the past decade have attracted as many young people from Europe as from across the UK.
Being in a hands-on, can-do, cooperative work environment, using beautiful natural materials, enhances our well-being, it gives us a sense of community with others and with our surroundings.
Over the years, participants have gained an impressive portfolio of experiences in a broad range of skills. Our holistic approach to craft learning is widely recognised by practitioners in the heritage industry and in national programmes, such as, the Prince's Foundation and many centres of higher education. Our students and volunteers find that their experiences at Felin Uchaf provide a valuable springboard to the next step in their lives; many have gone on to become engineers, architects, designers, ecologists or to work within conservation and heritage organisations such as the National Trust, Wildlife Trusts and the National Parks. Our young people have received prestigious awards for their volunteering achievements such as Wales's Young Volunteer of the Year Award and have gained scholarships for further study at specialist craft skills centres both here in the UK and Scandinavia.
Former trainees and volunteers keep a close connection with the centre for many years after they have completed their internship. It is a place which has fostered deep friendships and a close alumni fellowship that now extends to over 30 different countries across the world.
“I have had one of the best experiences of my life and I don't say that lightly. I decided to volunteer with you to use my creative skills in a different way. I wanted to get in touch with the land, the ground, and work my body hard, learning new skills to create something with others. I also wanted to have some mental space and time to reflect on where I am in my life. Felin Uchaf gave me all of this and more than I could have expected. I feel this experience supported me to make some changes in my life that mean I can grow and move forward, happier” - Rose.