Coming Out of Covid
What a difference a year makes…a year ago we were coming out of the first lockdown, not a vaccine in sight resulting in a lot of apprehension mixed with optimism. Here we are a year later, exciting our third lockdown, with first vaccines having been offered to everyone across Wales and the world beginning to tentatively open back up again as we look towards a future of living alongside coronavirus, rather than sheltering from it.
Our organisation has seen the impact that covid has had across so many people’s lives and we are tailoring our work to support people to come through the other side and resume some kind of ‘normal’ life. The trepidation that so many people feel about doing normal activities again is not to be underestimated, and it is nothing to feel ashamed about – so many people are feeling the same way.
Play It Again Sport is trying to support people to do the activities they want to do, in places they want to them, which are safe and accessible for them to reach and at the lowest cost possible. Outdoor activities are still considered to be safer than indoors, due to the circulation of air and the ability to socially distance more effectively.
We have a range of activities that we hope appeals to many people, if there’s anything you would like to see in your nook of the Rhondda, then please do get in touch, we’re here to provide what you need, when you need it! If we can’t do it, we will endeavour to find someone who can! Taking the first step and getting involved with a new activity can make you feel a little anxious and be somewhat overwhelming, but you stand to gain far more from it than you’re likely to lose!
Getting out, seeing people and interacting with them can provide a huge boost to your mental health, if you combine this with some form of exercise, even just gentle walking, the benefit to your physical health from increasing your heart rate and being outdoors will increase your overall wellbeing hugely.
Every change begins with a decision to try something new!
Mondays –*Dark in The Park Rhondda (amateur running group), King George Running Track, Clydach Vale, 6pm-7pm. Learning to run for everyone! FREE. In conjunction with Sport RCT.
Tuesdays – Walk With Us, walking group, St Anne’s Church Ynyshir, 11am -12pm, walk 1.5-2 miles at a very comfortable pace. FREE. In conjunction with Sport RCT.
Wednesdays – Children’s Multi-Sports (under 12), Canolfan Pentre, 4pm-5pm. FREE
Making Tracks, walking group, Cambrian Village Trust, 10am-12pm, walk 4-5 miles at a reasonable pace. FREE. In conjunction with Cambrian Village Trust & Sport RCT (beginning 4th August)
Thursdays – Walking Rugby, Treherbert Park, 2pm-3pm, £2 per session. In conjunction with Welcome To Our Woods.
First Thursday of every month – *Anyone Book Club, People & Work Offices, Pentre Town Hall, 6pm-7pm. FREE.
Any activity marked with * requires pre-registration due to covid guidelines. Please visit our Facebook page for more information, or call, 07375894007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Litter picking – Great for the Mind, Body AND the Environment
We have been so happy to be slowly getting back towards normal as restrictions have eased over the last few weeks. As we have missed working as a team in the same space, we decided to find an activity that we could do together, that was Covid safe. Having noticed huge amounts of rubbish across the Bwlch mountain, Rhian suggested litter picking. Suffice to say, we had a great time picking in Pentre last week, and look forward to making this one of our weekly team activities. Many people have become avid litter-pickers over lockdown, take a read of the guest blog from Tom Gosling to see why he does it. What an inspiring story, and one which echoes our own sentiments – getting outside does wonders for your physical and mental health, and can increase your feeling of wellbeing exponentially. Thank you for sharing your story with us Tom.
Guest Blog: Tom’s Rubbish Road to Recovery
TRIGGER WARNING – SUICIDE & ADDICTION
The alarm goes off, snooze, 5 more minutes. I close my eyes, my head pounding, a deep feeling of emptiness, hate for the world that I have woken up. Why couldn’t I have gone quietly in my sleep? Another day…… Another drink……
I have suffered with depression and anxiety since a child. Suicidal feelings would fill my head on a daily basis versus an overwhelming fear of actually going through with it. Reaching my teenage years, like many, I entered a very experimental stage of life starting with alcohol and following onto marijuana and cocaine. The next years were to become an array of extreme highs which subsequently resulted in extreme lows. As the ‘party’ years drew to a close and my friendship circle matured, it seemed I was left behind. Despite having an abundance of people around me, I felt alone with nothing but the next high to get me through another day on this Earth. As depression grew, so did my alcohol consumption, having an huge detriment on both my mental and physical health. I had two choices, act, or actions would be forced upon me. It was at this point I accepted I had a problem.
I was given details for The Gainborough Foundation, a charity set up and run by recovering alcoholics. I sat alone and made the call, I explained my situation and was put onto a 10 day detox programme. The programme was run from home keeping me in a familiar setting but also allowing me to mentally adjust to an alcohol free house rather than returning to an alcohol free house after a stint away. I was heavily medicated and have little to no memory of this time period at all.
It was now the challenge began. 10 days of nothing to being in the big wide world a sober version of your former self, physically and mentally weakened by experience. An immature mind in a mature body with no idea of who I am, who I want to be or what I want/need to do. The depression returned and my anxiety increased and I became a recluse. The next few years passed quickly, I existed but wasn’t living.
The journey starts
Lockdown hit me hard, finances reduced and the depression continued to spiral. As the weather improved, I started to walk and explore the beauty within the village I have lived for so many years. Just getting outside and having that small amount of fresh air and exercise really uplifted me each day. I was more motivated, focused and able to achieve daily tasks that I would have struggled to have achieved before. Increasing in distance, I stumbled across our local church. A stunning building, steeped in history but with a grossly overgrown graveyard. Drawn to wanting fill my time, I contacted the church to offer assistance, which was welcomed with open arms. Over the next months and with the help of many local volunteers our local graveyard turned from an unusable mess to a stunning communal area. Through the small action of reaching out, I have been surrounded by a range of amazing individuals who unknowingly have acted as my support bubble on my low days. The achievement has filled me with a sense of purpose and inspired me to pursue more.
A rubbish end
Sobriety is a consistent journey of self-discovery. Knowing I can achieve the above results, it was time to go back to my childhood and take up something that has always been a passion of mine… LITTER! After signing up to the local council’s ‘BIG CLEAN’ administering litter picks with volunteers within village. This only added to my support network and gave me a huge feeling of self-worth, knowing the impact it was having on the environment. I now have two local groups with hundreds of locals getting involved in regular picks. I highly recommend purchasing a litter picker and spending a short time litter picking. You will be thanked ‘self-worth/acceptance’ you will make a difference ‘self-worth/relief of guilt’ and you will ultimately have a reason to get out your own head for a while.
For me I am a proud, recovering addict. I am proud that I have the determination and strength to admit I needed help, get that help and find my identity along the way. I am a better version of myself because of my journey and life lessons and I use the above ventures to remind me of these facts
The Green Light Project
Green Light is a project we launched earlier this year in response to the high levels of unemployment throughout the Rhondda Valleys and the affect Covid has had on the Economy. This has been supported and funded by Confused.com.
The purpose of the project is to support anyone, no matter your circumstances, transition into Employment or Education. We have been doing this by supporting individuals on a one-to-one basis remove any barriers that may be preventing them from taking that next step in life. Whether that be help writing your CV, preparing for an Interview, access to Volunteering opportunities to develop Employability skills and buff up your experience, help accessing and purchasing courses or training, and more! It is tailored around the individual’s needs.
The project has been running since January 2021 and has been successful in supporting a wide variety of individuals across the Rhondda. It has been especially successful in supporting those who may have fell through the cracks of other employment schemes, or those who may need a little more one-on-one support that has not been offered elsewhere.
One person we have been able to help was a girl called Ellie. She came to our project after not getting the support she felt she needed from another Employment scheme in the area. Ellie was an apprentice Engineer pre lockdown but due to Covid, she was unfortunately made redundant. This had an impact on her wellbeing making her very disheartened, and after months of getting nowhere with finding another job, she lost the confidence to apply for jobs and gave up. We offered her support in terms of CV building, Interview prepping as well as regularly encouraging and supporting her to apply for jobs. We helped her find temporary work until we came across an Engineering apprentice and sent it her way. She applied for the apprenticeship and she was successful with the application and Interview process.
This is some feedback we received from another individual we have been supporting: ‘’Thank you for your support, it means a lot. Also, thank you for helping me get courses and supporting my mental health. You’ve helped so much, and I couldn’t ask for anyone better. You are making my journey in living a lot easier with all the support you are giving me, and I can’t thank you enough’’.
If you, or anyone you know is looking for support with Employment or moving back into Education, please get in touch! The Green Light project is here to help anyone and everyone!
Rhondda voices is a brand new project launched by People & Work in January 2021. Rhian Edwards joined us as our Rhondda Digital Stories community leader, her role over the next year is to run the Rhondda Voices project as part of the Time to Shine Leadership programme, funded by The Rank Foundation. Rhondda Voices aims to digitally capture the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Rhondda.
People and Work knew the pandemics effects would run deep through the valleys especially impacting our foundational economies. In response to this we came up with a project that would give us a better understanding of the foundational economy in the Rhondda and more specifically how it has been affected by Covid-19. Rhondda Voices is a project that gives the opportunity to the Rhondda people to tell their stories. Rhian will be interviewing and filming Rhondda residents to find out their experiences in the Rhondda and how Covid-19 has impacted their day-to-day routines and their interaction with local communities.
Already we are getting interesting stories of the changes to the daily routines, family and work life as well as the disruption in education, healthcare and to our all-important social lives. More importantly we are getting to the bottom of how this has made people feel, and whether our thoughts have been voiced by our local and National Politicians and in the media.
In the next few months, Rhian hopes to film the interviews of as many Rhondda residents as possible as well as creating a mini series of conversations with children to gain their understanding of the virus and the disruption to their lives. These films will inform those working in the foundational economy and those responsible for the public policies affecting it.
If you would like to take part in this project then contact Rhian Edwards: Rhian.Edwards@peopleandwork.org.uk
This is a new project that has been created with the purpose of supporting access to and use of the internet for anyone living in the Rhondda. The focus is to help those who do not have access to broadband or an appropriate digital device to get online.
Since 2015 People & Work has been involved with many different digital projects to help tackle digital issues supporting young people and others to get more involved with the digital world. Some of these projects have ranged from app creating, digital festivals, gaming and offering support to colleges and local universities. Covid has brought to light many issues people have been suffering with long before the pandemic and this was a chance to help tackle issues that surround digital inclusion.
The Digital Champion (Ethan Jones) will be responsible for working with partner organisations to help improve and increase the opportunity for people in Rhondda to access the internet and use digital devices.
Following funding from the Rank Foundation, we have been able to purchase 10 Samsung tablets and some recycled laptops from a computer recycling centred based in Rhondda. The purpose of having these is to offer a device and support to those who are digitally excluded. With these devices and support being given we hope to help people connect with friends & family and perform any other action they may want out of a device. Working with partners such as SMT and RHA Wales we are also able to refer people to other organisations if we feel they may be better equipped to help and individual or group in need.
We will also be working on making people aware of the options they have when it comes to accessing the internet at home via broadband or mobile data. There are a range of different schemes available which some people may not be fully aware of.
We are also exploring the opportunities of bringing a community Wi-Fi scheme to local neighbourhoods as an alternative for people who are not connected to the internet in Rhondda. Right now, we are looking into the experiences of other communities in the UK and USA which have tried out a variety of different community Wi-Fi options to see what our options could be for us here in the Rhondda.
For more information please contact:
The Current Impact of Coronavirus on Play It Again Sport
A CALL TO ARMS….WHAT IS LURKING AT THE BACK OF YOUR WARDROBE? WE DESPERATELY NEED YOUR UNWANTED SPORTS KIT & EQUIPMENT. WITHOUT DONATIONS WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CONTINUE. Click Read more to find out why we need too.
As rules and regulations relax, and then, tighten again, the impact Covid-19 has on our daily lives continues challenge us all. For many, it’s a continuation of working from home and limiting who you visit, and where. For social enterprises, it makes survival incredibly difficult.
Why does it matter? Aside from the obvious reason of employment, there is the social good these organisations provide that big conglomerates and ‘normal’ businesses simply don’t, because so much of what makes us human is not tied up in money, but in emotional connections and socialisation.
Social businesses provide a link to communities and supply what they need, they create a human connection that is not easily found in Tesco or Primark; someone to talk too, a shared space where people can meet, stay warm, have a hot drink, share knowledge, learn new skills, exercise together; human transactions that don’t cost a penny, but are worth their weight in gold.
How does Play It Again Sport operate in this way? We have three main purposes:
- To remove financial barriers to participating in sport
- To increase re-use and promote sustainability
- To support our communities in a healthier lifestyle
We take donations of used and new sports kit and equipment, prepare and sell it in conjunction with Too Good To Waste (a local furniture re-use shop and charity), at vastly reduced prices. We know our community needs access to affordably priced clothing, and not just for sport. The money raised from sales is then used to support sporting activities in the local area and to promote sustainability. As a result we’ve diverted over 10000 items from landfill in the last two years and engaged with more than 1400 people in sporting activities, improving their physical health and mental wellbeing.
Let’s talk about one of our walking rugby regulars as an example, let’s call him Patrick. He’s in his mid-sixties. He had played rugby avidly as a young man but when he married, family life became his priority. His children grew up and moved away. He retired. Suddenly, two years ago, his wife died and Patrick was alone. Through a friend, Patrick heard about walking rugby, he came every week. He then suggested a coffee afterwards, and now the group go for lunch after every session. He has made new friends who regularly socialize together.
It may ONLY be a walking rugby group to some people, but to others it is a reason to get up on a Tuesday morning, a lifeline to other people, exercise for the body and balm to the mind.
This is just one person. This is how we make a difference.
Due to Covid-19 people like Patrick have had nearly six months of missing out. Unable to meet others in social environments and interact in physical proximity, loneliness and isolation are an inevitable consequence. A more sedentary lifestyle over lockdown alongside food choices made out of necessity and comfort, it is unsurprising that fitness and nutrition levels have declined. The correlation between physical health and mental wellbeing is well established, so not only has mental health suffered as a direct result of lockdown and the ramifications of Covid-19 on society, but also due to reduced exercise.
Now we find ourselves in a transient position, allowed to meet for training but waiting for the bell to toll to say we can’t. Anxious to resume what we can, but nervous that we may contribute to a future lockdown.
We have added pressure knowing the items we sell are in demand more than ever, due to job losses and reduced incomes, but without the means to collect donations. Leisure centres are quite rightly insisting that people take nothing with them into their buildings. Including donations. So we find ourselves without stock. Without items to sell. Unable to raise money to support people like Patrick.
Understandably, with everyone in similar positions, there are few alternatives where we can safely collect donated items from. We rely on these contributions to fund our activities and to provide much needed items for people in our local communities.
Can you help? We want to continue and we hope to keep assisting those who depend on the services we provide, but we can’t do it without donations.
Please visit our website to find out more information, www.playitagainsport.wales or contact me directly to enquire about making a clothing donation;
Covid-19 & Play it Again Sport
Like many other businesses and organisations our normal operations came to a screeching halt on March 23rd with the announcement of a UK-wide lockdown.
Nearly everything that would normally happen on a daily basis was now forbidden!
So, was it a time to sit down and do nothing? Of course not!
Having recently moved into new office premises in Pentre a lot of our stock was in need of some serious organization, sorting out all the historic and recent donations was a mammoth task in itself.
Preparing a ‘quarantine zone’ for donated items was also at the top of the list. This designated area allows items to be left alone, in a separate space for at least 72 hours before they are moved to the next phase of processing.
Getting our stockroom sorted was an overdue task, that had been postponed far too many times! It means that when business is back on track, replenishing the shopfloor will be a much smoother operation, and the stock will be managed carefully so that by the time the items are put for sale, it will be safe for them to be sold. There is plenty of stock ready and waiting to find a new lease of life.
Much as our back of house needed sorting, so did our front of house, a website had been planned for a long time, but had always been put on the backburner. Ethan Jones, from People & Work designed and built our fabulous new website (which you will now be visiting if you’re reading this blog!). Here, you can find out everything you would ever want to know about Play It Again Sport; where you can donate your items, how you can buy them, and what happens with the money that is raised. Future plans include a webshop so you can buy directly from us.
Supporting our community is at the heart of Play It Again Sport, so finding ways to still do this was really important to us. There had been plans to deliver sporting activities at Ynys y Werin St Anne’s Community Group in Ynyshir, which had to be put on hold due to lockdown, but the amazing work of the group meant that In lieu of sporting activities, other activities were delivered.
Easter Craft Packs, Easter Eggs, VE Craft Packs and Packs of Joy all had to be distributed in the local area, and what a pleasure it has been to lift people’s spirits by providing these.
There have been so many fantastic local groups working so hard to help in the Rhondda, and as our usual method of support was rendered impossible, instead we have pledged money to The Play Yard and Rhondda Foodbank who have been ensuring that people who need food at this critical time do not go without, have a look at their pages to see the work they have been doing. Play It Again Sport is so proud to have supported these fabulous organisations, if you know of any other community projects that need assistance, please call or email us.
And if you have any ideas of future projects that can be delivered, don’t hesitate to share them with us, and hopefully Play It Again Sport will be back as you know it sooner rather than later!
Spectacle Theatre was established in 1979 and has developed into an international award-winning company. They specialise in participatory arts to engage with people of every demographic, from young children to elderly people in care homes. The work they do is extremely diverse and is a credit to the talent of the staff and volunteers.
A men’s mental health group was thought up by the young people already involved with Spectacle. We, as an organisation, were brought in to help diversify the staff present at the meetings. Suicide is the biggest killer among males under the age of 40 and we believe that locally people are much more aware of men’s mental health, so it’s important we get the community and young men on board.
Currently there are young men attending the group from Treorchy and the surrounding areas. If the staff present believe those attending may benefit from other services, they can help those attending locate these services.
The young men who are currently involved are very proactive in their approach and are great at coming up with fresh concepts to keep the ideas rolling. Come along and join us – we’re all there to help each other.
St Anne’s Community Group Launch
On Sunday March 1st 2020, Play It Again Sport attended the community day at St Anne’s Church Hall, Ynyshir. This day was about celebrating the acquisition of the church hall for a year – to be used by the community, for the community. We were in great company to celebrate St David’s Day with Julie Edwards, the local councillor, Pendyrus Male Choir, Welsh Water, RCT Rocks, the Deputy Mayor Cllr Susan Morgans and Cllr Jack Harries also present.
Our original intention had been to provide games for those that were attending – particularly for any children, and to find out what type of activities we could possibly provide in the church hall in the future.
However, the size of the church hall, along with the numbers of people that attended (202!) meant that this could not happen; there were just too many people in the hall for us to deliver any sports.
We saw this as a great opportunity to engage with those that were attending and find out what the people of Ynyshir would like to see the church hall used for. We spoke directly with people from all demographics, from those still at school to those long since retired and everyone in between!
There were over a hundred suggestions, and many of them can be supported by Play It Again Sport.
We look forward to working with St Anne’s Community Group to help them establish a community centre with something for everyone.