Community spirit shines as Coleg y Cymoedd learners take part in charity walk to support mothers and babies in need

Over 40 learners at Coleg y Cymoedd, who are all studying Independent Learning Skills (ILS) courses at college, stepped out of their comfort zones to show their support for Taffs Well-based charity, Cwtch Baby Bank.

Joined by a number of staff, they took part in a three-mile round charity walk from Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus to the charity’s Taffs Well distribution base, donning baby grows and other baby paraphernalia, and bringing with them trollies full of essential donations including toiletries for both mothers and babies.

Dedicated to helping learners with learning difficulties and physical disabilities develop independent living skills and enter employment, Coleg y Cymoedd’s ILS course has been collecting donated items of clothing and sanitary products for new mums and babies over the last few weeks as part of a learning module focused on community work.

Launched in 2016 and the first charity of its kind in Wales, Cwtch Baby Bank focuses on redistributing pre-loved baby items to vulnerable families in the local area. The charity provides essential equipment, clothing and toiletries for newborn to 24 months old babies through referrals from social care, health professionals and other relevant support, ensuring donations go directly to those most in need.

Allison Thomas, a Vocational Access lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd, felt compelled to focus her course’s community module on the charity after hearing about it from one of her learners, Amy Johnson, whose mum Hillary originally founded the organisation after realising that no charities in Wales at the time were taking baby donations.

Allison said: “Our learners have been thrilled to get involved in helping such a worthwhile cause and have loved every moment.

“For many learners on ILS courses, the personal difficulties that they face can make it hard for them to go about their day to day lives or enter employment after education, but many do go on to volunteer for charities, which is why our community module is so important to them. It’s something that inspires them and helps them learn essential skills like teamwork and communication.

“With the physical and social challenges many of these learners face, completing a three-mile walk is no mean feat – it’s a huge achievement for them and they are all so proud that they have been able to support an important charity while reaching a personal milestone.”

Hillary Johnston, Founder of Cwtch baby bank, said: “I was really touched when I heard that staff and learners wanted to support Cwtch baby bank. They had heard about the charity through my daughter, Amy, who is one of the learners on the ILS course, and I had also visited the campus previously to talk about the work that we do, which I know the learners found inspiring.

“They felt more connected to our charity as a result and were really enthusiastic about getting involved in fundraising, which is so lovely.

“We work on a referral basis, with referrals coming from health professionals dealing with families in need, and we rely on donations to keep us going so that we can continue to help as many people as possible. Every single donation we get makes a big difference and we are so grateful to everyone at Cymoedd who has taken the time to help us.”

Former Coleg y Cymoedd apprentice and plumbing and heating star to compete at WorldSkills Lyon 2024

A former Plumbing and Heating apprentice from Coleg y Cymoedd has been selected to represent the UK at WorldSkills Lyon 2024, the world’s largest skills competition often referred to as the ‘skills Olympics’.

Ruben Duggan, 22, from Blackwood, will compete as part of Team UK at the prestigious event, which takes place from 10 – 15 September in France. He will face the best young plumbers and heating engineers from around the world, with the aim of being crowned the global champion in his skill.

Team UK is selected, mentored and trained by WorldSkills UK, in partnership with the world’s leading learning company Pearson. The team consists of 32 young professionals from a range of sectors, who have been training hard for this once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase their talents on the world stage.

The WorldSkills Competition, which has been running since 1953, is used by governments, economists and global business leaders as a benchmark to measure the skills gap and preparedness for future economic growth. At WorldSkills Lyon 2024, 1,500 competitors from more than 65 countries and regions will compete in 62 professions, ranging from carpentry and floristry to cyber security and robotics.

Ruben, who completed his apprenticeship with Coleg y Cymoedd and Powerserv LTD said: “I’m over the moon to be selected for Team UK and to have the chance to represent my country and my college at WorldSkills Lyon 2024. It’s a huge honour and a great challenge, but I’m ready to give it my all and hopefully bring home a medal. I’m very grateful to my tutors, especially Lee Perry, my employers and WorldSkills UK for their support and guidance throughout my journey.”

Ben Blackledge, Chief Executive, WorldSkills UK said: “WorldSkills Lyon 2024 – think the Olympic Games – where the prize is the world-class skills that UK employers are crying out for.

“The UK’s participation in the ‘skills Olympics’ will provide vital insights to ensure we can develop our apprenticeship and training programmes, to make them truly world- class. “

Freya Thomas Monk, Managing Director of Vocational Qualifications and Training at Pearson, said: “Pearson shares many goals with WorldSkills UK – celebrating the best of vocational and technical education, raising awareness and the prestige of the sector and supporting young people to set benchmarks of excellence in their chosen fields.

“I hope the Team UK members take pride in the fact that their dedication and talent have rightfully earned them a place in this prestigious competition.

The skills they have honed, and the standards they have worked so hard to reach, represent the very best our nation has to offer. Here at Pearson we are cheering you on every step of the way.”

Jonathan Morgan, Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “We are delighted that Ruben has been selected for Team UK and we wish him all the best for the competition. He is a fantastic example of the high-quality skills and work ethic that our apprentices develop at Coleg y Cymoedd and in the workplace. He has a bright future ahead of him and we are very proud of his achievements.”

WorldSkills Lyon 2024, the 47th WorldSkills Competition, will take place from 10-15 September.

Aberdare

Wellington Street
Aberdare
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN

Nantgarw

Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
Cardiff
CF15 7QY

Rhondda

Llwynypia
Tonypandy
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
Hengoed
CF82 7XR

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