Neil Thomas is a devoted Penrhys resident and volunteer coordinator at Llanfair Uniting Church. Neil has called Penrhys home for 20 years, and he cares deeply about his community.
Throughout the pandemic, Neil noticed that his community was facing challenges and they were losing trust in Trivallis.
To try to change this, in late 2021 monthly meetings were launched and held at the church, allowing residents to discuss their experiences and address any concerns that they had with Trivallis. The meetings soon expanded to include local leaders, educators, and the police, all coming together to make things better for their community.
In 2022, weekly housing surgeries were launched to help improve service delivery. Neil played an important role in introducing these sessions, which have not only benefited Penrhys residents but also nearby communities looking for housing advice.
The surgeries also provided money advice sessions and welcomed external support services in to support those living there.
There were several issues that were raised by residents, including the postpandemic backlog of repairs. At Trivallis, we swiftly addressed the issues by providing dedicated resources and maintaining an on-going on-site presence to help prioritise and resolve.
Improvements were also made to the area with environmental maintenance days being held in partnership with Penrhys residents and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council. Together, we’ve cleared green spaces, removed debris, and educated residents on garden maintenance. Residents have told us how happy they are that the appearance of their estate has improved.
Neil along with some of the volunteers and support from Trivallis, helped to create three seating areas that have become popular with residents in the area.
In times of financial hardship, Neil and the church volunteers stepped up by distributing food parcels to those in need. Recognising the demand for a ‘furniture bank,’ they opened one, with Trivallis providing a dedicated storage facility to support their mission.
The closure of the estate’s only shop hit the community hard. Trivallis’ Partnership Team, in collaboration with Penrhys Primary’s Family Engagement Offi cer, is working on a community food distribution project to provide affordable supplies. This initiative will be staffed by the school during term time and by volunteers during non-term periods.
Neil said: “The past two years of working closely with representatives from Trivallis have seen a dramatic change, and the work we have been doing in partnership together is making a huge difference.
“Recently we’ve been getting some of negative attention on social media from people who have never been to the area before. They don’t know our stories, our history and how closely we work together. They might not understand why Penrhys is important to us, but you really would struggle to find a more caring and supportive community.”