Penygraig-based Valleys Kids and the staff that worked there played a key role in Leanne’s teenage years.
Leanne recalls: “When I was growing up in Penygraig the ‘Bike Club’, as we called it, was a very small organisation. Many people worked there but most did so on a voluntary basis.
“Pauline worked for most of those years full-time on a half-time salary and Julie was involved in the creative arts and taught us photography. She also help us make a video we submitted to a film competition. I remember as it was my first trip to London as a teenager and we went on a mini bus with youth workers and a crowd of young people from Penygraig.
“Penygraig Bike Club - which became Valley Kids - created a number of opportunities for me personally and for my circle of friends.
“We were given opportunities to volunteer, learn a variety of skills but it also gave us access to politics.
“I’m forever grateful to those youth workers for the discussions we had over endless cups of coffee, often during cold winter nights in the basement of the old Co-op offices in Penygraig.
“Some of those conversations helped me form the views and values I still hold today.”
Leanne remains supportive of the organisation to this day. “Valleys Kids is a successful voluntary organisation that works well with a wide variety from many communities,” said Leanne.
“They do particularly good work with young people and children, making sure they are engaged and have a range of activities to occupy their time. They are excellent and now employ many people. They have become one of the biggest employers in the area.”
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