A college in the South Wales Valley has been named as one of the most inclusive employers in Britain by LGBT+ charity Stonewall, making it into the top 100 for the first time.
Coleg y Cymoedd has taken 79th place on the Top 100 Employers list, which was announced during LGBT+ History Month (February), and is the only further education college in the UK to be included.
The college competed against over 500 organisations from across the public, private and voluntary sectors to secure its place in the list. Coleg y Cymoedd has been recognised for the work it has carried out to support LGBT+ staff and learners and combat discrimination, such as promoting campaigns and awareness events, including LGBT+ History Month and Hate Crime Awareness Week.
Stonewall reveals that more than a third of LGBT+ staff have hidden parts of their identity at work and almost 1 in 5 LGBT+ employees have been a target of negative comments from colleagues because of their identity, stressing the importance of support from employers.
Andrew Heron from Blackwood, who is studying Childcare Level 2 at the collegeâ€™s Ystrad Mynach campus, said: â€œIâ€™m very proud that the college has been included by Stonewall for its work to support LGBT+ staff and learners like myself. Itâ€™s so important for everyone at the college to feel comfortable and be able to open up about being part of the LGBT+ community.
â€œIâ€™ve been inspired to set up my own LGBT+ group at the college to continue encouraging other learners to talk about their sexuality and feel comfortable with their own identity.â€
The Top 100 Employers list is compiled from Stonewallâ€™s Workplace Equality Index, an annual benchmark tool for inclusivity of LGBT+ staff, which is regarded as the UKâ€™s definitive list of its kind.
Karen Phillips, Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd said: â€œAs employers and educators, it is essential that we do all we can to ensure that our campuses are welcoming and supportive environments for all staff and learners. We are grateful to Stonewall for recognising the inclusive community we have created across all of our campuses. Most of all, Iâ€™d like to thank everyone who has supported our ongoing commitment to LGBT+ equality.â€
To continue its work promoting LGBT+ equality and inclusivity, the college recently hosted its own stall at a Project Unity event and will be celebrating LGBT+ History Month during its own event at the collegeâ€™s Nantgarw campus.
Balloons, banners and bunting were the order of the day to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Coleg y Cymoeddâ€™s Nursery at the Ystrad Mynach campus.
In 1995, the college recognised the barriers faced by those wishing to return to education whilst raising a family and provided the resources to make it easier; providing support and affordable options for childcare.
The purpose built day nursery at the campus was set up to provide care facilities for children of college learners but more recently has extended the offer to include staff members. The Nursery offers high quality childcare providing a wide range of play and learning opportunities for children between the ages of 10 months and 5 years.
To celebrate the anniversary, a day of activities took place, beginning with lunch in Scholars Restaurant, which was decked- out with silver decorations. The children added to the theme – dressed in their silver party hats, which they had made themselves in readiness for the occasion.
Following lunch the celebrations continued with an afternoon of soft play provided by Tonyrefail based Mini Mayhem, complete with their favourite bouncy castle.
Campus Director, Alison Roberts said, â€œOur Nursery is a fantastic benefit that keeps learner parents near their children whilst providing safe, affordable child care so parents can focus on class while theyâ€™re on campus. The nursery is staffed by qualified nursery nurses and registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW)â€.
Jay Humphris, staff member on the Ystrad Mynach campus who uses the Nursery said â€œI find the nursery very welcoming, professionally run and a big part of the learning development of my toddler. All the staff are very good with the children, providing different activities every day and making sure they are happy thought-out. I have seen a massive difference in the confidence of my child since he started in September and I have the amazing staff at the nursery to thank for thatâ€.Â
Following the success of last yearâ€™s Rhondda Games Jam, staff at the Rhondda campus, Llwynypia were delighted to host this yearâ€™s Rhondda Digi Fest!
The event was organised by People & Work (a Welsh charity), Cardiff University STEM Ambassadors and local primary schools and supported by Pen Y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund and the Waterloo Foundation. Staff, learners and the community were invited to the event to raise awareness of the opportunities that exist for learning, working and playing in the digital world.Â
Representatives from universities and schools along with employers provided a range of digital activities. These included Code Club ambassadors, representatives from the universities and their Techno Camp teams, retro games, arcade games, games construction, web building and design to name but a few. It was interesting to see seven local Primary schools showcasing their Code Club projects based on the theme â€œLove where you live!â€ Each school designed a game using coding skills learned in their code clubs supported by Cardiff University students. All the children were invited to vote on their favourite game. This yearâ€™s winner, in an exceptionally tight field, was Gelli Primary Team 1. Two other primary schools visited the festival along with pupils and students from secondary schools and all the Coleg y Cymoedd sites.
Jordan Rosser, 20 from Porth, who is studying on a Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma for Music Practitioners course at the Rhondda campus and attended the event said, It was a good event for networking and gaining contacts. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.”
Campus Director, Carolyn Donegan added, â€œThis yearâ€™s event was another great success, it provided an opportunity for our learners to experience a range of the digital activities and also to speak to the employers to find out about various careers in this fieldâ€.
People & Workâ€™s Project Manager, James Hall said, â€œThis was the biggest Digital Festival in the Rhondda Campus yet! Over 300 children and young people flooded through D Block! Staff who accompanied the visitors were also very involved, including two teachers from Cymer Juniors who were loving the rock guitar and drums, supported by one of their pupils on keyboard! I loved being shown how each game worked by pupils as young as seven!â€
One mother said, â€œMy son absolutely loves this! Heâ€™s only seven but he wants to design and make games based on what heâ€™s learning now.â€