Book-cover-LizLiz Cutland has written a book which explores the impact of Valleys Kids on Valleys’ communities.

Kids in Museums’ Workshop Coordinator Catherine Townsend reviews a history of their work and the difference it has made for Valleys Kids.

“Valleys Kids are charitable organisation that has worked with the community in the Rhondda since 1977 and their excellent work continues to this day. Kids in Museums’ Workshop Coordinator Catherine Townsend reviews a history of their work and the difference it has made for valleys kids.

The book is full of personal accounts spanning from the late 1970s through the decades to 2013. The themes throughout the book seem to be changing times, social struggle, poverty and empowered people. The empowered people are key voices in the book. The focus is not on them and their story, but on the stories of a community that is deep in the valleys of South Wales.

The introduction explains the deeper history of the Rhondda and surrounding areas. It contains astonishing statistics that help build up the theme of changing times.

According to census reports, there were less than 1000 people living in the Rhondda in 1851, 17,000 by 1871, and 153,000 by 1911- a sweeping change occurring within 60 years.

Part one then emphasises the heartfelt truth of when the social problems began. As the problems started the motivation to do something about it were also born. Echoes and whispers turned to voices, shouts and eventually demands for help and change. A youth centre was created, under a different name at the time, ‘The Bike Club.’

Later on in the book barriers to being heard are highlighted but it also talks about how these barriers were successfully broken down. The book is actually full of personal success stories . Quite rightly this book boasts about the excellent work of Valleys Kids and their on-going projects. These are highlighted in detail in part three.

Becky says that studying for her degree has made her realise that although there is great pressure on professionals to measure outcomes today, effects of Youth and Community work cannot really be calculated.

A document such as this is a perfect way of measuring some real successes within this community.

It was the police who introduced Matthew to the Bike Club. When he was about 10 or 11, he used to ‘hang about’ on a roundabout close to the centre, throwing eggs and stones at passing cars. Eventually he took up the recommendation of the police and started attending the middle youth group. That involvement got him out of trouble. ‘I have never looked back,’ he says.

The book is for anyone who wants to learn more about the social developments in the South Wales valleys in the last 50 years. It’s full of stories, positive and negative, that give truthful insights into events. I feel it shows the wonderful tip of the iceberg of what an organisation like Valleys Kids means to its community. The stories from key relationships created in the Rhondda have developed into results and positivity for the community. It outlines the communal challenges that have been tackled and the creation of an outstanding central organisation, Valleys Kids.

Co-founder of Valleys Kids, Margaret Jervis, is speaking at Kids in Museums’ Family Fortunes workshop in Cardiff on 7th February 2014.”Visit the National Museum of Wales Website