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Exploring the Remarkable Work of GISDA in Caernarfon and Gwynedd

Updated: Sep 16, 2023


Gisda is a charity that provides support and accommodation for homeless young people in North Wales. The charity was founded in 1985 and has its headquarters in Caernarfon. Gisda aims to empower young people to live independently and to achieve their full potential. Gisda offers a range of services, such as emergency accommodation, supported housing, mentoring, counselling, education and training, and life skills development.
GISDA - Caernarfon

Caernarfon, Gwynedd, is a town with a rich history and a vibrant present. Nestled amidst the breathtaking natural landscapes of the Menai Straits, Caernarfon has been a hub of human habitation since ancient times. Today, it is home to a remarkable social enterprise that is making a significant difference in the lives of vulnerable young people in the area - GISDA.


Understanding GISDA: Empowering Vulnerable Young People

GISDA, which stands for "Grŵp Ieuenctid Sengl Digartref Arfon" or the Young, Single, Homeless Group of Arfon, was established in 1985 with the aim of providing support and accommodation for homeless young people in Gwynedd. Over the years, GISDA has expanded its services and developed numerous projects to address the unique challenges faced by young individuals between the ages of 14 and 25 in North Wales.


The organization's core mission is to offer vulnerable individuals the opportunity to improve their quality of life, ensuring they are not disadvantaged due to poverty. GISDA works tirelessly to empower young people, supporting them in developing independent living skills, employability skills, and a sense of self-worth. Through a range of projects and therapeutic support, GISDA strives to equip young individuals with the confidence and skills necessary to lead fulfilling and independent lives.


Providing Support and Accommodation

One of the key aspects of GISDA's work is providing support and accommodation for young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The organization operates several hostels and houses across Gwynedd, including Hafan in Caernarfon, Llys Meddyg and Fron Fawr in Blaenau Ffestiniog, and two fully-furnished houses in Dolgellau. These properties offer a safe and supportive environment for young individuals, allowing them to rebuild their lives and work towards a brighter future.


Expanding Opportunities: Social Enterprises

In addition to providing housing and support, GISDA has embraced social enterprise as a means of sustaining services for vulnerable young people. The organization has established various social enterprises within its structure, offering further opportunities for skill development, employment, and community engagement. These initiatives not only provide valuable resources for GISDA but also contribute to the local economy and create a sense of purpose and belonging for the young individuals involved.



Gisda is a charity that provides support and accommodation for homeless young people in North Wales. The charity was founded in 1985 and has its headquarters in Caernarfon. Gisda aims to empower young people to live independently and to achieve their full potential. Gisda offers a range of services, such as emergency accommodation, supported housing, mentoring, counselling, education and training, and life skills development.
GISDA Team - Caernarfon

Projects and Initiatives

GISDA's commitment to empowering young people extends beyond providing accommodation. The organization has developed a range of projects and initiatives to address the diverse needs of the individuals they support. These projects cover areas such as education, mental health support, employability, and community engagement. Let's explore some of the notable projects undertaken by GISDA:


Mentro Mlaen: Empowering Young People

One impactful project led by GISDA is Mentro Mlaen, funded by the Big Lottery in Wales. Mentro Mlaen aims to empower vulnerable young people by providing them with the skills needed to increase their confidence and progress towards employment. The project offers various activities and support, including renovation and improvement of locations in the town center, facilitating the project's initiatives. Through Mentro Mlaen, GISDA is making a tangible difference in the lives of young individuals, equipping them with the tools to build a brighter future.


Ideas:People:Places: Regenerating Caernarfon through Art

Another innovative project supported by GISDA is Ideas:People:Places, funded by the Arts Council of Wales. This project seeks to regenerate Caernarfon through imaginative and ambitious artistic collaborations with local communities. By working with artists and community members, GISDA aims to breathe new life into the town, creating unique cultural experiences and fostering a sense of pride and belonging. The Ideas:People:Places project demonstrates the power of creativity in transforming communities and enriching the lives of young people.


Gisda is a charity that provides support and accommodation for homeless young people in North Wales. The charity was founded in 1985 and has its headquarters in Caernarfon. Gisda aims to empower young people to live independently and to achieve their full potential. Gisda offers a range of services, such as emergency accommodation, supported housing, mentoring, counselling, education and training, and life skills development.

Business Improvement District: Strengthening the Town Center

GISDA recognizes the importance of a vibrant and attractive town center in supporting the local economy and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. The organization actively supports the Business Improvement District (BID) initiative, providing capital support to pilot initiatives identified by the business sector. The aim is to strengthen the town center's appeal and vitality, ensuring it remains a thriving hub of activity and opportunity.


Beics Menai: Empowering Individuals with Disabilities

Inclusivity and equal opportunity are fundamental principles for GISDA. Through the acquisition of Beics Menai by Antur Waunfawr, GISDA offers employment and training opportunities for people with learning disabilities. Beics Menai contributes to the local community by providing bicycle services and promoting sustainable transportation options. This social enterprise not only empowers individuals with disabilities but also raises awareness of environmental sustainability and promotes active lifestyles.


Island Site, Slate Quay: Regeneration and Development

A significant regeneration opportunity lies in the historic Slate Quay area, known as the Island Site, at the heart of Caernarfon's waterfront. GISDA, in collaboration with various partners, aims to revitalize this area by transforming the currently dilapidated buildings into a mixed-use development. The Island Site project holds the potential to be a key catalyst for the wider development of Caernarfon Waterfront, attracting tourists, creating employment opportunities, and breathing new life into the area.


The Welsh Highland Railway is a heritage railway that runs from Caernarfon to Porthmadog in North Wales. It is the longest narrow gauge railway in the UK, and passes through some of the most scenic landscapes in the country. The railway was built in the early 20th century, but closed in 1937 due to financial difficulties. It was reopened in stages from 1997 to 2011, after a long and complex restoration project. The railway offers a unique way to experience the history and culture of the region, as well as the stunning views of Snowdonia National Park.
Welsh Highland Railway - Caernarfon

Welsh Highland Railway Caernarfon Terminus: Enhancing Visitor Experience

The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland narrow-gauge railways are renowned for their stunning routes through Snowdonia's breathtaking landscapes. GISDA recognizes the importance of tourism in boosting the local economy and has been involved in improving the visitor experience at the Welsh Highland Railway Caernarfon Terminus. By enhancing facilities and services, GISDA aims to attract more visitors, showcase the town's unique heritage, and create sustainable employment opportunities.


Caernarfon Castle: Preserving Heritage and Enhancing Visitor Facilities

Caernarfon Castle, a World Heritage Site of international significance, is a key attraction in the town. GISDA, in collaboration with Cadw, the Welsh Government's historic monument service, is committed to preserving and enhancing this iconic landmark. Recent developments have seen improvements to visitor facilities, ensuring that visitors have a memorable and enriching experience while exploring the castle's fascinating history.


Galeri: A Creative Hub for Art and Expression

Galeri Caernarfon, the Creative Enterprise Centre, has become a thriving hub for artistic and cultural activities. With theaters, performance studios, art spaces, and creative workspaces, Galeri provides a platform for local artists and performers to showcase their talents. The success of Galeri has led to increased demand for space, prompting considerations for extending the current building. Galeri not only fosters creativity but also contributes to the town's cultural vibrancy and economic growth.


Housing: Meeting the Demand for Suitable Accommodation

Access to safe and affordable housing is crucial for young individuals seeking stability and independence. GISDA recognizes the importance of addressing the housing needs within the community. The organization actively works on various schemes to bring empty properties back into use, develop new housing opportunities, and improve the energy efficiency of targeted homes. By tackling the housing challenges, GISDA aims to combat fuel poverty and ensure that young individuals have a secure place to call home.



GISDA is a charity that provides support and opportunities for homeless and vulnerable young people in Caernarfon, Wales. GISDA aims to empower young people to develop their skills, confidence and self-esteem, and to help them find their place in society. GISDA offers a range of services, such as housing, education, training, counselling, mentoring and advocacy.
GISDA - Caernarfon


Collaboration and Impact

The remarkable work of GISDA is made possible through strong partnerships and collaborations. Gwynedd Council, Cadw, the Arts Council for Wales, Antur Waunfawr, Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways, Caernarfon Harbour Trust, and Galeri Caernarfon are some of the key partners working alongside GISDA to achieve their shared goals. Together, they strive to create a vibrant and inclusive community, offering opportunities and support for young people in Caernarfon and the wider Gwynedd region.


Conclusion: A Beacon of Hope for Vulnerable Young People

GISDA's dedication to supporting vulnerable young people in Caernarfon and Gwynedd is truly commendable. Through their holistic approach, encompassing accommodation, social enterprises, and a range of projects, GISDA empowers young individuals to overcome adversity and build fulfilling lives. Their initiatives not only offer practical support but also nurture creativity, promote mental well-being, and foster a sense of belonging.


The ongoing regeneration efforts in Caernarfon, championed by GISDA and its partners, are transforming the town into a vibrant and culturally rich destination. Through the revitalization of the waterfront, the enhancement of visitor experiences, and the preservation of historic landmarks, Caernarfon is poised to become a must-visit location for tourists and a source of pride for the local community.


GISDA's work serves as an inspiration for communities worldwide, demonstrating the power of collaboration, social entrepreneurship, and compassion in creating opportunities for vulnerable individuals. As Caernarfon continues to evolve and thrive, GISDA will remain a beacon of hope, ensuring that no young person is left behind, and everyone has the chance to realize their potential.


Published by

Visit Caernarfon Ltd

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