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Hometown Hero: Dawn from Tonyrefail

18 June 2020

A bit of fun | Hometown Heroes |

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Trivallis’ Hometown Hero campaign aims to shine a spotlight on those going above and beyond, supporting people in communities across Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) through challenging times. This week’s Hometown Hero is Dawn Parkin from Tonyrefail.

Dawn thumbs up

After spending 35 years working in logistics and welfare in the Army, Dawn returned to her hometown of Tonyrefail and has been inspired by her faith to work with people across the community to reduce loneliness and isolation. Trivallis received many nominations for Dawn, so we caught up with her to see exactly what she’s been up to…

“My work in the community began long before the Coronavirus pandemic.  A few years ago, I volunteered with the New Life Community Church in Tonyrefail on a building project and managed to secure £500,000 worth of funding. Seeing the difference that made reignited my spirit and made me realise that my passion is helping my community. I decided back in January to look at more ways I could help and began running sessions to help people through bereavement. The dream was to have my own office where I could run sessions for those who were struggling and, after speaking with a local Councillor, I ended up taking on the project to run the community centre in the area.” Dawn said.

Dawn’s project to bring the community centre back to use as a hub for Tonyrefail was put on hold when the Coronavirus outbreak started, but that didn’t stop her drive to support her neighbours.

Since March, Dawn has managed a Facebook group, which now has over 1,200 members. From the group, Dawn organises volunteers to help with the distribution of food and essential item packages to the elderly and vulnerable. It is also a social space where she has hosted competitions and fun activities to tackle loneliness and isolation during a time when we are being asked to social distance.

Bags of food parcels

Abbie Evans is a Trivallis tenant and lives in Tonyrefail, she said: “Dawn is just amazing, she has gone above and beyond for this community! Every day she will write in the [Facebook] group and ask if anybody needs anything. She goes to supermarkets, the local butchers and pharmacy and will collect and deliver anything that people need.

“Not only does she do all of that, she’s also organised a virtual bake-off where people in the community can get involved baking cakes each week. It’s been so nice to see people getting involved, especially those who may not have any other interaction outside of this group, because they are shielding. I got involved in the VE Day celebrations; my children had craft packs delivered and we made a window display, which was a lovely way to brighten up the community.”

Dawn has signed up to Neighbourly, a platform where supermarkets donate surplus stock to communities. She receives donations from her local Marks and Spencer and Aldi and bags those up to deliver to over 130 elderly and vulnerable people across Tonyrefail.

Surplus food donations

Dawn added: “I’m so grateful for the support of these stores and all the wonderful items they donate. We get things like bread, tinned items and salads. I’m just one cog in the wheel and have lots of fab volunteers that help with delivering these items to those who really need them. The support I get is amazing.”

As well as her work to support the community with food donations, Dawn recently undertook a sponsored challenge where she walked eight kilometres every day, for eight days, carrying a 20 kilogram weight on her back. She did this to raise money for local community volunteer groups supported by Interlink.

Louise Harris also nominated Dawn as her Hometown Hero, she said: “Dawn’s selflessness is truly inspirational, in all this time I have never once heard her complain. She always has a smile and her happy disposition makes you feel that things will get better, because there are people like her doing everything within her power to make things better. She reaches out to some of the most isolated people in the community and is just so helpful, trying to make people happy during such a difficult time.”

In the future, Dawn is looking forward to getting back to the community centre and continuing to offer social activities for the community; such as art classes, lunch sessions and support for those who need it.

With all the nominations that came in for this Hometown Hero it’s no surprise that Dawn is doing so much. Trivallis is very grateful for the support Dawn is giving to tenants and others who live in Tonyrefail and the surrounding areas. A true hero who is inspired by her faith to be there for others.

Here are just a few of the people who nominated Dawn sharing why she is their Hometown Hero:

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If you know a Hometown Hero that you would like to nominate, you can fill out a form here.

Visit our Hometown Hero Hall of Fame to see the other heroes in our communities, here.