Bronze Award for Cymoedd learners

A group of learners studying on the Phase Three Sport & Public Service course at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus received their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh certificates and badges from Principal, Karen Phillips.

The presentations took place at a recent event held at the college to recognise the achievements of the learners during the programme, these included Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition.

Every year around 112,000 young people in the UK take part in the Award which was founded by the Duke of Edinburgh almost 60 years ago; to encourage anyone aged 14 to 24 to take on a range of activities that develop skills such as leadership, perseverance, teamwork and communication.

As part of their Bronze challenge the group of Cymoedd learners spent three months fundraising for Llamau raising over £300  through various activities including a 5k run in Tredegar Country Park, the sale of hampers and various table top sales.

To complete the Physical and Skills sections the group attended Aspire gym twice weekly for a 12 – month period taking part in outdoor fitness tests too. They also attended a First Aid course over a 6- month period achieving a full St. John’s Certificate.

For the final part of the Award the learners planned and trained for their two-day expedition which included a 16 mile walk. The first day took place in wild country from Ystradfellte along Sarn Helen to Libanus concluding on Day Two with the next leg from Libanus to Pencelli along the canal path.

Congratulating the learners on their achievements, the Principal said, “I am delighted to present these awards to the group as I know you have worked so hard to achieve the Award. I am sure this will prove valuable not only with your studies at the college but also in your personal life. It is evident, listening to some of your experiences during the programme you have enjoyed the activities whilst making new friendships and gaining in confidence. I wish you well on your next challenge and I’m sure the Duke of Edinburgh Award will be beneficial when seeking employment”.

Course Tutor and Co-ordinator for the Duke of Edinburgh Programme Val Smith congratulated the group and invited them to take up the next step – the Silver Award, which includes 6 months Volunteering, Physical and Skills and a three-day/two night expedition.

Lifeline leaflet launched at Coleg y Cymoedd

To mark World mental health day, learners at Coleg y Cymoedd were joined by assembly member for Cynon Valley, Vikki Howells AM, and the Welsh Ambulance Service for the launch of a new mental health support leaflet.

Developed in collaboration with Rhonda Cynon Taf’s voluntary council, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s leaflet provides a guide to accessing vital mental health support 24 hours, 365 days a year.  For the first time, this seemingly simple leaflet provides all the key helplines and websites for individuals to contact if they are concerned about their own, or a loved one’s, mental health.

The guide offers a list of national helplines for people who experience mental health needs, covering everything from support for anxiety, stress and eating disorders as well as suicide prevention and coping with bereavement.

The Ambulance Service chose to host the launch at Coleg y Cymoedd in recognition of the college’s commitment to pastoral care and supporting its students’ and staff’s wellbeing.

It comes as the college has assisted learners to set up their very own mental health support group, ‘Me in Mind’, which aims to give learners the opportunity to help each other to build resilience and share strategies for improving their mental health. Sessions are held twice a week at the college’s Nantgarw campus and are open to all learners.

Gemma Iveson, 36, is one of the learners involved in setting up the group. The care learner, who is studying access to higher education diploma in healthcare, was inspired to create the group after previously experiencing poor mental health and wanting to help others going through the same.

As part of the launch, Gemma, along with learners Alisha Beckett, 19, and Ashleigh Williams, 21, addressed tutors and learners about their own experiences of mental health and emphasised the importance of making the most out of helplines and support services.

Gemma said: “I have had my own struggles with mental health in the past and even thought about taking my life at one point. I was in a dark place and am so thankful that I made the decision to speak to somebody about it. I called Samaritans and the counselling and advice I received really helped me through a very difficult time. I urge anyone who is struggling with their mental health to contact a support service as I have seen first-hand how much they can help.

“I think this new leaflet is a brilliant idea and will help many people in many situations. A leaflet like this would have really benefited me as, having the information readily available, I would have picked up the phone to someone sooner. It’s a great initiative.”

Joining Coleg y Cymoedd and the Welsh Ambulance service in launching the new scheme, Vikki Howells AM said: “World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on what more we can all do to promote good mental health, but people can need support and advice about their own mental health any day of the year, so information on where to turn must be readily accessible.

 “I was pleased to support today’s launch of this important new leaflet produced by the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, which is based on the first-hand input and experiences of Cwm Taf service users.

 “I was also impressed to hear about the ways in which Coleg y Cymoedd is supporting its learners to build up resilience and remain in good mental health. These initiatives will make a real difference in Cynon Valley.”

Leanne Hawker, QAM, Head of Patient Experience & Community Involvement, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust added: “We are delighted to be able to work in partnership with Coleg y Cymoedd, VAMT & Interlink and especially service users in developing the leaflet. We recognise the value of health information and the leaflet has the potential to have a positive impact on anyone experiencing poor mental health, being sign posted to services within their reach”.

Coleg y Cymoedd celebrate Shwmae Su’mae Day

15 October is national Shwmae Su’mae Day; a day to encourage people to start each conversation with Shwmae (Hi there” in Welsh). Established in 2013, the day has gone from strength to strength and is now an established fixture in the Welsh calendar. Its aim is to increase awareness about the language among non-Welsh speakers and encourage us all to use our Welsh skills. Across Wales; people come together to celebrate and promote the Welsh language.

This year Coleg y Cymoedd took the opportunity on Shwmae Day to celebrate and share the language with learners, staff and members of the public, across its four campuses with fun-filled activities. In the learning centres and on reception areas prizes were given for taking part in quizzes and games or for simply saying something in Welsh and Chartwells kindly gave a discount to those who said ‘Shwmae’ when ordering tea or coffee in the college cafeterias. Learners and staff alike made the most of the opportunity to show off their Welsh skills and win some prizes.

Thanking everyone for their involvement with Shwmae Su’mae Day, Lois Roberts, Coleg y Cymoedd’s Welsh Language Officer said: “The Welsh language belongs to us all, whether we are completely fluent or only know a few words. A big thank you to staff and learners for embracing the event. Shwmae Sumae Day is an opportunity for all to share the language and have fun. Diolch yn fawr!”

Cymoedd learners ‘Nail’ it at Community event

A group of Beauty learners from Coleg y Cymoedd received a vote of thanks from staff at Caerphilly Council for their involvement at one of their recent events.

Local residents received invitations to the event, organised by Caerphilly Council’s Community Regeneration Team to identify what they would like to see in their area; and as a ‘thank you’ for attending they were offered a range of pamper treatments provided by the Cymoedd learners.

The Beauty learners, studying on the Level 2 Beauty Therapy course at Ystrad Mynach campus spent the morning at the Van Community Centre, Caerphilly providing treatments for the residents.

Hayley Hunt, Campus Co-ordinator for Hairdressing and Beauty at Ystrad Campus, said “When the college received the invitation we accepted immediately as events such as this provide our learners with the opportunity to work with clients and put the techniques they have learnt on their course into practice. The hands-on experience also includes Customer Service and Health & Safety. The learners were kept busy throughout the morning providing nail treatments with a relaxing hand and arm massage”.

Rhian Meaden, Event Organiser at Caerphilly Council said “We are very grateful to Hayley and her team for supporting our event. The event proved an ideal opportunity for us to consult with local residents and I’m sure the offer of free pampering treatments resulted in an excellent response. I hope the learners found it beneficial and I hope we can call on them for their support at future events”.


Wellington Street
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN


Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
CF15 7QY


Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
CF82 7XR

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