Our Place and Projects
ACE moved into our home at Dusty Forge in 2016. An iconic Ely landmark which had been facing an uncertain future, the “Dusty” now has a new life as a busy community centre.
Our Place: Dusty Forge
At the heart of the building sits our ‘community living room’, a friendly, informal and flexible space with a constant supply of tea and coffee and the buzz of folk getting to know each other and hatching new plans and visions. The Dusty Forge acts as a base for a wide range of projects, groups and activities run by local volunteers and staff, including:
- The Dusty Shed – A wood workshop that gathers people together for social interaction and to work on making, recycling and reusing projects.
- Breaking the Mould – Weekly multimedia arts sessions with our brilliant community Local people engaging in creative expression through printing, weaving, drawing, ceramics, felting, willow-weaving and more.
- Diana Gardens – A volunteer led-community garden project, helping to transform the neglected woodland area in Ely.
- CAER Heritage Hidden Hillfort – A collaboration between ACE, Cardiff University, local schools, residents, community groups and many others, discovering local heritage and history.
The Dusty Forge also provides a range of support services for the community including, the ACE Community Shop providing essential household bric-a-brac, clothes, school uniforms, toys, baby items and more; Your Local Pantry Dusty Forge which offers affordable and healthy food for a small weekly subscription of £5 to members; ACE Community Support, a drop-in information and support sessions to help with a range of issues; a range of local health and wellbeing groups providing therapeutic and social activities that promote mental health and positive relationships, including Knit and Natter and Retreat; and Working Well, which is working with local people to develop responses and solutions to in-work poverty.
With the building secured for community use for years to come, ACE has begun to address the redesign and development of the centre. Working with community members and an Architect ACE has started to action a schedule of works designed to improve access, refurbish facilities, address sustainability issues and provide means to increase the capacity of activities at the centre.
To see our weekly activities at Our Place: Dusty Forge, go to the What’s On Calendar.
Inside Our Place: Dusty Forge
The recording, ‘Thursday morning in the reception area’ is written and spoken by Neil Turnbull, a PHD student researching how local authorities give communities public buildings to look after and manage.
This is Neil’s journal, experiencing how our community comes together in the Dusty Forge, while sitting in the recepion area on a thursday morning.
The Dusty Shed
The Dusty Shed aim to promote health and wellbeing by reducing the loneliness and isolation of individuals, particularly but not exclusively men aged 50+, living in Ely and Caerau areas and the surrounding areas through the provision of ‘sheds’ community based projects where individuals can share, learn and socialise with each other in an inclusive environment.
Sometimes, it’s just about a cup of tea and a chat….And sometimes, it’s about joining in and taking part.
Sheds to Sheds typically attract older men, but many have younger members and women join too. Whatever the activity, the essence of a Shed is not a building, but the connections and relationships between its members.
If you wish to know more, and know someone who you think would like to come along, please get in touch. https://thedustyshed.org.uk/
Breaking the Mould
Our current ‘Breaking the Mould’ ACE arts project is an exciting 11 month art program, funded by Arts Council Wales. During this time we will deliver weekly sessions, teaching a variety of art techniques to participants, along with developing our own ‘Dusty Gallery’ space where we can showcase our work!
In addition to this we will exchange our artwork with Porth based community arts group ‘Valleys Kids’ who will also display our work at their ‘Art in the Attic’ gallery.
Our art sessions run at ‘Our Place’ Dusty Forge every Monday from 10-1pm, and anyone of any ability 16+ is welcome to attend free of charge. We will also be running a bespoke series of adult + children’s art courses later in the year for a small fee, so watch this space for announcements! We value the importance of creativity on the health & wellbeing of the local and wider community and always welcome new faces!
The Caerau And Ely Rediscovering (CAER) Heritage Project was started in 2011 and is a collaboration between ACE, Cardiff University, local schools, residents, community groups and many others. The project is focussed on working with local people to discover more about their local heritage which includes an Iron Age hillfort, a Neolithic causewayed enclosure, a medieval church (St. Mary’s) and ringwork castle, a Roman Villa and the remains of Cardiff’s racecourse.
Through involvement in the project, local people have been at the heart of archaeological and historical research, which has included activities such as geophysics, excavations, artefact analyses, exhibitions, art installations, films, heritage trails, performances, accredited courses and experimental archaeology.
CAER images by Viv Thomas, George Keane.
At the beginning of 2019 ACE were awarded a delivery grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to establish the CAER Heritage Hidden Hillfort Project. Along with match funding from Cardiff University, Moondance Foundation, Wales and West Housing and First Campus, this grant will be used to:
- Transform facilities at Caerau Hillfort through the development of an attractive heritage centre, heritage gardens and children’s playground, all promoting wellbeing, sustainability and conservation.
- Co-create accessible heritage trails with coproduced signs, interactive activities and a virtual reality experience.
- Initiate a programme of community archaeological excavations to engage people in local heritage while developing skills and creating new knowledge about Caerau.
- Showcase local talent, creativity and social enterprise through heritage based art activities, installations and products, working with local and national artists.
- Establish placements and training opportunities for local volunteers, including helping to conserve St Mary’s Church.
- Work with local schools, colleges and Cardiff University to embed the heritage of Caerau and Ely into the curriculum and create new educational opportunities.
- Provide scholarships to support young people and adults to progress into higher education.
- Establish a ‘Love Our Hillfort’ community group to help improve the conservation, management and appreciation of Caerau Hillfort.
- Provide a range of formal and informal heritage learning opportunities including free adult learner courses in history and archaeology.
CAER Heritage Hidden Hillfort Project has its own website where you can follow progress, find out about upcoming events and activities and read more about Caerau’s amazing history and heritage:
You can find the project on Facebook and twitter @CAERHeritage
CAER images by Viv Thomas, George Keane.
Dusty Forge Repair Cafe
The Dusty’s Repair Cafe runs monthly pop-up events offering a friendly free repair and re-use service supported by Repair Café Wales.
Pre-lockdown our team of volunteer hosts and fixers welcomed customers bringing broken items and shared their skills on the spot as they fixed bikes, kettles, coffee-makers, lamps, blenders, sewing machines, bags, trolleys, buggies and even repaired prom dresses for the Dusty’s community shop to hire out. We safety-check all mended electrical items.
Last September post-lockdown we re-launched with a more limited drop-off service at the Dusty – our volunteer fixers mended items in their homes\sheds\workshops. Watch this space to find out when we can ‘pop up’ again as lockdown restrictions are eased – we’re looking forward to welcoming old and new customers on the fourth Saturday morning of each month…
Hire a Venue or Room
The Dusty Forge offers a range of Meeting Rooms, a Training Room, Workshop and a Main Hall for hire. You can hire for parties, socials and celebration events, corporate events and conferences, and children’s parties. Facilities available include, Wifi, PA System, video and screen, disabled access and on-site parking
Costs start from£5.50 per hour for our small meeting room for up to 6 people, so please let us know what you need and arrange a visit.
You can call 02920003132 to find out more, to visit, and book a room, or email email@example.com
Play your part in supporting people’s lives, our community projects and helping our organisation to grow. ACE’s key aim to create ‘Vibrant, equal and resilient communities for all, where people find fulfilment in themselves, each other, and the place where they live’.
We are about developing success stories for individuals and families in our communities, and support a range of activities and services including; crisis support for those experiencing poverty, training and support for the unemployed, community-led health and well-being activities, Arts & heritage activities, as well as social enterprise development.
Play your part by donating to us today.
Partner with us
Many of our projects and activities are developed in collaboration with a range of partnerships through, third sector organisations, universities, local and national businesses, as well as community groups.
If you are interested in working with us, please contact on 02920003132
Please view our Partners page to see who we work with.
ACE’s vision is that local people will be active throughout the organisation as volunteers, staff, managers, trustees and participants. In particular, ACE would be nothing without the many committed people who generously give their time as volunteers. We aim to help people identify and nurture their strengths and skills for their own satisfaction and the good of the wider community. Some people join in with established projects. Others will come with a new idea which we can help them develop. Currently volunteers are active in the following ways:
- Stocking, administrating and serving at the Your Local Pantry project
- Welcoming and repairing at the Repair Café
- Making and mending at the Dusty Shed
- Weeding, watering and growing in the Dusty Garden
- Picking up donations and serving customers in the Dusty Community Shop
- Conservation, research and planning with the CAER Hidden Hillfort Project
- Digging, planting and monitoring wildlife at the Diana Garden Regeneration project
- Running holiday events and activities for families
Lots of our volunteers are keen to share stories of how volunteering with ACE has transformed their lives, providing new friendships, confidence and a sense of meaning. Perhaps there’s something you’d like to join in with?