Together Again, Radix
Thousands of pounds for flood victims
Community has always been one of the biggest strengths of the Aberavon constituency in good times and bad and this has been more evident than ever over the course of the last year and the awful impact the Covid 19 pandemic has had on families, livelihoods and society as a whole.
Aberavon has been affected in much the same ways as areas throughout the UK and across the world, but the community here has had its own hurdles to overcome too and, as always, dealt with them with dedication and resilience.
In January of this year the village of Skewen was rocked by a devastating flood after a disused mine shaft burst and sent torrents of water and sludge cascading into more than 80 homes, many of which had been in families for generations and some which had to be demolished completely.
The speed and level of community response to this awful incident was nothing short of astounding. Donations of food, clothing and essentials immediately began arriving with the Salvation Army coordinating the relief effort from its offices in the centre of Skewen.
And the kindness did not stop there. Thousands of pounds were raised for the flood victims in a matter of hours and to date the total raised now stands at £41,500 which has been donated largely by people living nearby to those affected but also from kind-hearted individuals and organisations across the world.
Community spirit in Aberavon
The kindness of our communities was also recognised with a national honour in 2020 when the Cymer Afan Community Library, a group of volunteers based in Cymer in the Afan Valley near Port Talbot , were presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The group was formed in 2014 to take over the village library and have developed it into a multi-purpose venue – a hub for the community.
There is a legendary community spirit in Aberavon, and yet again it rose to this challenge throughout the ongoing pandemic. There have been some truly amazing things happening in our community:
- Age Cymru West Glamorgan have been cooking and delivering warm meals to people in the area.
- In Baglan, residents known as street champions have volunteered to help vulnerable residents with shopping and running errands.
- Volunteers at the Bethel Community Church have been busy distributing food parcels and clothing to residents in need.
- In Briton Ferry the Covid 19 Support group have been doing a fantastic job coordinating the street champions, getting food and medication to people who need it most.
- Members of the Busy Bees Sewing Group worked tremendously hard to make scrubs bags, Alice bands and Covid forehead bands.
An army of volunteers also came together to demonstrate that great Cwmafan community spirit and support the most vulnerable residents in Cwmafan by running errands and helping with food and medication.
Port Talbot volunteers have been working tremendously hard making hundreds of scrubs of the NHS. They’ve been helped by St David’s Church in Margam and Carmel Chapel who have provided access to their halls for cutting.
Drawstring bags for NHS workers
The Friends of Margam Park have been making drawstring bags for NHS workers, allowing them to take their uniforms or scrubs home and place them directly into the washing machine.
Foodbanks have continued to be run in Briton Ferry, Cwmafan, Cymmer, Port Talbot and Skewen to provide this vital service at such a difficult time.
The team at Neath Port Talbot Council for Voluntary Service have all been working really hard coordinating volunteers and helping people access the support they need.
Britain’s Got Talent star Paul Potts has also lifted the mood, boosted morale and brought smiles to many faces with his amazing vocal skills.
The Aberavon residents action group RADAR have been working hard to support residents living in the area with food, medication and other essential supplies as well as running errands.
Hundreds of people have also volunteered with the Neath Port Talbot Council’s Safe and Well scheme to support residents who have been told to shield themselves and don’t have someone to call on for support by picking up prescriptions, posting mail, making regular phone calls and so much more.
Businesses rising to the challenge
Our business community has also risen to the challenge presented by the pandemic.
Construction firm Andrew Scott Ltd worked hard to transform the Llandarcy Academy of Sport into a fully equipped field hospital with beds to help the local health board deal with large numbers of coronavirus cases.
Local engineering business BOC have been keeping hospitals supplied with the oxygen needed to help patients fight the virus. BOC engineering and project eams have also worked in designing and installing systems to the Nightingale Field Hospitals in Swansea, Cardiff and other hospitals around the UK.
First Corporate Clothing utilised the skills of their workforce and turned their production over to making scrubs for frontline medical staff working to fight Covid 19. They’ve also donated fabric to the Busy Bees Sewing Group to help them with their efforts.
Staff furniture group Ministry of Furniture have used their skillsets, utilised their versatility and repurposed their machinery and facilities to make disposable face shields for frontline healthcare workers.
Rototherm Group in Margam reconfigured its facility on the Kenfig Industrial Estate and began producing face shields and has since gone on to secure UK government contracts to manufacture PPE.
CanDo Laundry started a new business venture in the Sandfields area making non-medical face masks for the public to use, reducing the pressure on NHS supplies.
Steel giant Tata Steel donated vital personal protective equipment, like masks, gloves, aprons and shoe covers, to those on the frontline treating patients with coronavirus in Swansea Bay
University Health Board.
And housing association Tai Tarian donated facemasks to Swansea Bay University Health Board.
Educators and sports groups step up
Our education providers and sports groups have also joined in the incredible effort and players for Aberavon RFC, working with Age Connects NPT, have been volunteering to run errands for people in the community.
Afan United have been busy keeping fit and raising money for Swansea Bay NHS.
Neath Port Talbot College turned their Llandarcy Academy of Sport into a field hospital, with the help of Andrew Scott Ltd and Neath Port Talbot Council, and handed over the 340-bed facility to Swansea Bay University Health Board.
Students and staff at Swansea University College of Engineering have also been using their base on the Bay Campus to mass 3D printing protective masks for the NHS while staff at Ysgol Bae Baglan have been donating visors to doctors and nurses.
So many organisations and individuals have been and continue to be doing great work across our community.