Anyone who hasn’t read the previous post should do so before reading this. Pay particular attention to the comments, for therein lies great wisdom.
In that previous post on the planning application from YMCA Wales for new housing in Penrhyndeudraeth, I asked, “By what route did land in Gwynedd become the property of an organisation based in Swansea? But even if the YMCA owns the property, since when has this organisation been involved in property development?” I asked these questions because, even at first glance, the YMCA seemed an unlikely property developer.
Subsequent enquiries, and information received in the form of comments, now persuade me that my initial surprise at the YMCA going into competition with Wimpey and Redrow was justified. For it now looks as if the YMCA is acting as a cat’s-paw for another organisation that, for reasons I hope to explain, would prefer not to show its hand. So how best to draw the threads together, for this is pretty complicated?
In my previous post I noted that even though the organisation is called ‘YMCA Wales’ the only YMCA association or branch affiliated in the north is a tin shack in Trawsfynydd; otherwise there’s nothing further north than Rhayader. Though out of a total of nine full-time YMCA Wales employees mentioned in the 2011/12 Report two are based in “Flintshire”. Which I suppose raises the question, why is YMCA Wales paying for staff at unaffiliated associations? When I Googled ‘Flint YMCA’ this is what came up. Which now raises the obvious question, what is Green Pastures?
The answer can be found at the Green Pastures website. Green Pastures describes itself as a “Christian Social Enterprise” providing accommodation for the homeless. For the purposes of what might be afoot in Penrhyndeudraeth, perhaps the important thing to know about Green Pastures is that it operates through franchisees, or ‘partners’. This panel from the website (click to enlarge) might give an idea of how this franchise system operates. The full page, and the video, can be found here.
Before leaving the Green Pastures website, I was struck by the distribution of the ‘partners’. Looking at the map (click to enlarge) we can see that GP is a largely northern English organisation, but with only one ‘partner’ further north than Harrogate. Then there is a cluster around London, plus a few outposts, one in Bridgend, the Well Christian Centre, another “Elim Pentecostal Church”. Surprisingly, there are four more ‘partners’ in the north east: the New Life Church in Holywell (which describes itself as “a church and a charity); EBVenture in Mold (no website); the Riverdee (sic) Church in Holywell; and the YMCA in Flint (again, no website). This cluster on the border explains why Green Pastures, despite being a very northern English outfit, and catering for the homeless, can manage without a presence on Merseyside other than Southport, nearer to Blackpool Tower than Liverpool Pierhead.
Some of you may now be thinking, ‘This is all very interesting, Jac, but pray tell – what has it to do with Penrhyndeudraeth!’ I’m coming to that, but first, let’s recap. There is a clear link, via Flint, between YMCA Wales and Green Pastures, yet another group in the homelessness racket. I say ‘racket’ because you mustn’t run away with the idea that the members of these sects are giving the homeless the clothes off their backs, or taking them in under their own roofs. No, it’s a business; a very lucrative business and someone else invariably picks up the tab. In Wales, the Welsh Government, your local authority, various other agencies. So let’s return to Penrhyndeudraeth. (I remember, vaguely, spending a wonderful and very drunken night there with the late, great Barrie Edwards of Harlech, complete with harp and penny whistle.)
Well, thing is, there just happens to be a church in Penrhyndeudraeth called Capel Fron. Once a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist chapel, now commandeered by happy clappies. In fact, Capel Fron is very typical of the kind of church that becomes a ‘partner’ to Green Pastures. Last November a new Pastor took over, by the name of Pete Campbell. He was ordained by Pastor Pete Day of Southport, which by an amazing coincidence is also home to Pastor Pete Cunningham, “co-founder of Green Pastures”, mentioned in this recent Southport Visiter report. Though the path has not always been smooth, as the same organ reports here.
What, I suppose, completed the circle, was learning that Pete Campbell, the new pastor in Penrhyn’, has Swansea connections. ” . . . Pete Campbell . . . was a worker at Townhill Baptist Church, Swansea. Both he and his wife Rachel have been ‘Relay’ workers with UCCF in the Swansea area.” (UCCF is the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship.) So we can assume that young Pete went to university in Swansea then, like too many others, stayed on for a while, making a nuisance of himself. (On the plus side, he didn’t become a Labour councillor.) I would wager my collection of Buddy Holly records that during his time in Swansea Predikant Piet had dealings with YMCA Wales.
So this is how I think it stacks up. YMCA Wales has applied to erect housing in Penrhyndeudraeth. (But remember, you don’t need to own the land in question to put in a planning application.) It may be being done this way so as not to draw attention to Capel Fron and Green Pastures. For given the link of Pastor Pete of Capel Fron with Swansea (and, almost certainly, YMCA Wales), and then the link between YMCA Wales and Green Pastures, a hardened old cynic like me is bound to assume that Green Pastures is the driving force with YMCA Wales merely fronting the project. If so, then these properties for which planning permission has been applied, and / or others planned for the same site, might be catering for the local homeless. And if there’s a shortage of local homeless, then prayers will be answered and homeless people will turn up from foreign lands, speaking in strange tongues.
I may be wrong on some details. And it could be just an incredible series of coincidences. But I think the time has come for some honesty from YMCA Wales, Capel Fron, and Green Pastures. It is also time for local politicians and media to start asking what exactly is going on. One thing I’m sure of: it is not a straightforward case of YMCA Wales applying to build private housing on land it owns in Penrhyndeudraeth.
CONCLUSION: As I’ve been saying for years . . . Wales has a Third Sector completely out of control and excessively large because the funding available has attracted grant-grabbers and shysters from over the border, who have often had to import the problems to justify the grants! An insane system only possible because of the weakness and connivance of successive ‘Welsh’ Governments.
There are rural areas of Wales – even urban areas such as Carmarthen – now experiencing an invasion of unwelcome Christian sects. In some cases congregations are moving en masse. These sects have primitive and reactionary attitudes to many issues, from evolution to homosexuality. They believe in the ‘laying on of hands’, the ‘casting out of demons’, and similar practices the rest of us believed were left behind in medieval times.
They often to try to hide their true nature by doing ‘good works’ which, when examined more closely, are invariably paid for out of public funds, and always serve as a front for proselytising. For the ‘good works’ they specialise in serve up a regular supply of weak and vulnerable people, desperate for support and open to suggestion. We should not be welcoming these sects into Wales. No local authority, and certainly not the ‘Welsh Government, should be funding or in any other way helping these groups. Nor should our elected bodies have anything to do with organisations, such as YMCA Wales, that work with these sects.