Trivallis’ Hometown Heroes campaign celebrates the stories of people living in RCT who are making a real difference in their communities by going above and beyond for others.
This week, our Hometown Heroes are Erika Taylor and Claire Weston from Rhydyfelin. Erika and Claire, who work for Valleys Kids, have been going above and beyond throughout the pandemic to provide weekly food packages, activity packs and care packages for children and their parents across their community.
We caught up with Erika and Claire to find out what they have been doing to support their community throughout lockdown…
Claire (in blue on the left) and Erika (in green on the right)
“I have been with the Valleys Kids project for almost 21 years and Claire has been with us for 4 years. We were both born in Rhydyfelin and still live here now, so we are very much part of the community that we work in. Valleys Kids has been in the community since 1997, completing community development work, working with people of all ages. As we have all been affected by COVID-19, things for us have drastically changed and we have had to change our working practices from face to face work to working digitally, to keep communications open.” Erika explained.
Erika continued: “We have been reaching out to people with wellbeing checks via telephone and online. Along with this, we have taken on the responsibility for organising shopping, collecting prescriptions, dog walking, food banks and any other priority needs that may arise within the community.”
The number of people requesting help from the foodbank started to rise significantly, so Erika and Claire, decided to help with this by creating weekly packed lunches for children in Rhydyfelin.
Claire said: “Once a week, we prepare and distribute up to 100 packed lunches and activity packs to local children. Then, once a month, we prepare wellbeing care packs for their parents. We have been doing this since the start of lockdown. We mainly cover the Rhydyfelin area, but we don’t turn anybody down outside of the area. We have regular families from Treforest, Tonteg, Pontypridd, Hawthorn and Pentre. The families collect these packs from the community centre, abiding by safety guidelines and the response has been very positive. It gives families routine and something to look forward to, it’s their chance to get a break from being at home and have a chat with us.”
Zoe and Rhys Caswell live in Rhydyfelin and they nominated Erika and Claire for the support they have been providing to their community. Zoe said: “The girls have been a huge support to families throughout the pandemic and before, including mine. They have remained in work throughout lockdown, at the community centre, and have been busy contacting people, signposting support for those most in need and putting together food and care packages for families. My husband received one of their adult care packages on his birthday this year.
“Erika and Claire always work tirelessly for the community, providing after school clubs and events all year round. They really are working hard to get the community together and have provided great support to us as a family.”
Erika and Claire have worked endlessly throughout the pandemic as they recognised that there was a need within their community for immediate support. They continue to work in this way and will be continuing this support into the future.
Erika explained: “When the COVID-19 pandemic was announced we knew that there were uncertain times ahead and people would find it extremely difficult to cope, especially as so many changes to everyday life came so quickly. As time is going on, and more people are accessing our service, it is becoming clear that people’s mental health and wellbeing have been affected. We know the situation isn’t going to disappear overnight and we will need to continue supporting our community, into the future.”
We would like to say a big thank you to Erika and Claire for being real heroes in their community and making such a difference to people’s lives in Rhydyfelin.
Here is a message from Zoe who nominated Erika and Claire for their support:
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.