Coleg y Cymoedd Multi-Trade learners join volunteers fighting to save welfare hall at heart of the local community

Constructed during the inter-war period, Cefn Fforest Miners’ Institute stood as a meeting and recreational venue for miners and their families at the height of the industrial period, but fell into decline with the end of South Wales’ coal industry.

Having since served as a community hall, rugby, and boxing club, the building was abandoned just before the Covid pandemic, leaving locals disheartened as their central hub wasted away.

Now, Level 1 Multi-Trade students from Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach campus, have joined Friends of Cefn Fforest Miners’ Institute volunteers who are set to restore the hall to act as a community centre and IT suite for those without facilities at home.

Led by their Plastering Lecturer, Terrence Watkins, the ten students will be spending one day a week at the Institute for the rest of the academic year, supporting renovation efforts by rendering, plastering, and labouring on the ongoing works.

The opportunity comes after Cefn Fforest local, Terrence, followed the volunteers’ journey on social media after he enjoyed using the Institute in his youth, and began spending some of his own spare time plastering it, and impressively, helped restore and plaster some of the arched ceiling of the main hall himself.

He shared this with his students who were eager to also give back to the local community, as well as experience work on a live building site for themselves. The relevant checks were made to allow them to start work at the Institute in December.

Terrence explained, “This is an invaluable opportunity for the learners to understand what it’s like to work on a real construction site. In the workshop, they are used to plastering a wall for it to just be taken down at the end of the day.”

“By helping with this project, they’ll always have a stake in the Institute, and will be able to see their work progress over time. A year from now they can look back at all they’ve contributed and be impressed by the difference they’ve made.”

The learners’ support has been greatly appreciated by Friends of Cefn Fforest Miners’ Institute, especially as their labour knocking through space for new windows in their second week on site allowed the glass to be fitted the very same day.

Member of the Friends of group, Dean Jones, thanked the learners for their time: “We’re so happy with the help they’ve given us – it’s been a massive boost to the ongoing works here and there’s no way we could have done it without them.”

Dean and his partners have been trying to save the Institute for just over five years, holding raffles and fundraisers, before becoming more successful with grants in recent months. He said: “We’ve been blown away by the support we’ve received from local firms and volunteers. This is a real community project and we can’t wait to be able to give it back to the community, fully refurbished, so that it can thrive once again.”

“We’re really grateful for Coleg y Cymoedd’s students’ support. They are a credit to the college and work so fast!”

To support Friends of Cefn Fforest Miners’ Institute restoration journey, visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/359414628038189

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Aberdare
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN

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Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
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Hengoed
CF82 7XR

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