In 1977 Penygraig Community Project was established, a community development initiative with 2 staff on jobshare and a small group of volunteers, working predominantly with disaffected teenagers in a whitewashed coal cellar of the local Probation office. The local community were keen to develop activities for younger children and approached the Project for support. Together they learned how to make bouncy castles and began to run Play and Afterschool sessions. This developed into a wide range of support services run by and for the local community.
The congregation of Soar Baptist Chapel which was suffering from dry rot and a leaky roof offered it as a gift to the Project in 1980. The Project became known for its grassroots up approach to community development and was invited into other challenging communities in the Rhondda. In 1999 the Project became Valleys Kids to better reflect its geographic spread and its growth. In each of the communities in which we work a key factor is working in partnership with each community to identify specific needs and to address them together.
Valleys Kids first started working in probation and with disadvantaged and deprived young people. The first 10 years would see the expansion into working with junior club, babies and toddlers. The work also expanded from probation to prevention and also started to introduce the Arts as a medium for self expression.
- 1977 Work with young people developed with “Open Door” youth club, basement of local Probation Office
- 1978 The first summer play scheme organised.
- 1980 Moved to Cross Street, Penygraig
Parent and Toddler Group started.
Donated Soar Chapel by the congregation.
- 1981 Initiated policy of integrating children with special needs.
In partnership with Education and Social Services established the Intermediate Treatment Centre for adolescents at risk.
Founder members and chair of Rhondda Play Forum.
One of the first volunteers appointed as youth worker.
Visits to the Project from Lord Hunt and Prince Charles
Helped establish Rhondda Play Project
Founder members and chair of Rhondda Community Development Forum.
Using the Local Labour Club we brought, Red Ladder, the first professional theatre company to the Project.
Care and custody for young people experimental scheme established with Welsh Office funding.
Volunteers working in chapel getting it ready for the opening.
Running day-to-day activities in Cross Street
During the following ten years Valleys Kids and HRH Prince Charles open our base in Penygraig – Soar Ffrwdamos Centre. Valleys Kids began to explore the theatre and appointed a technician and upgraded the theatre space. Valleys Kids continuing to focus on Play provision.
Soar Ffrwdamos Centre opened by HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.
A programme of Theatre, Dance and Music was established.
Activities to young people expanded.
Return visit from Lord Hunt who said, “Right from the beginning we spotted the need for this project… It is a model example and there is nothing quite like it in the Principality”.
Garages between Cross Street and Soar purchased for storage and conversion into workshops.
Theatre Space in Soar Ffrwdamos Centre upgraded.
Grant from Rhondda Borough Council to employ a Technician.
Play Development Worker appointed with a Rhondda wide remit to support local groups to develop open access play.
First Youth Theatre Performance.
Community Access to Technology project established to encourage local people to become computer literate and familiar with modern communication technology.
Founder member of Rhondda Youth Unemployment Forum.
“Valley’s Motor Project” establish in partnership with Probation and Social Services to work with young people, offenders and non-offenders.
First International exchange with Irish community in Wexford.
‘Bridges’ Community Support Scheme’ established to support community development work throughout Rhondda Cynon Taff.
A part time Youth Theatre worker appointed to develop the arts work with young people.
Co-ordinated the consultation conference for the Social Services department using theatre and arts techniques.
Founder member of Rhondda Cynon Taff Play Association
The latter 10 years of Valleys Kids history focuses on expansion of provision into another three communities, Penyrenglyn, Rhydyfelin and then lastly Dinas.
The Penyrenglyn Community Development Project opened its premises on the Mount Libinus estate in Treherbert in two converted houses.
ArtWorks team established and Youth theatre groups commence in our three key communities.
Community Support Scheme enabled the community of Rhydyfelin to produce a three year Development Plan that established the Rhydyfelin Community Development Project.
Development Co-ordinator appointed to take forward the Funding Strategy.
Valleys Kids established as a Company Limited by Guarantee and a Registered Charity to acknowledge growth into wider communities.
Local Government Conference Award for the most Innovative and Imaginative use of European Funds.
National Play Awards, runners up in the Open Access Play section.
Growing Out of Poverty scheme funded by the National Lottery Charities Board.
Seven day a week youth work established in two key communities and first youth work in third community.
Community Play Bus purchased, funded by our first corporate partner Buy as You View.
Welsh Rugby Squad and Graham Henry launched the Bus.
Neil Appeal first individual donor appeal launched.
All ICT training computers and printers replaced by Buy as you View.
Treherbert and District Regeneration Partnership established. One of only two voluntary organisations in Wales to make a successful bid for the People in Communities scheme.
Four Young People from Penyrenglyn receive scholarships to attend Camp America, supported by Greggs the Bakers.
First Community Advocate appointed.
Rhydyfelin Regeneration Partnership established.
District Regeneration partnership established.
Community Development worker appointed for Dinas.
Prime Minister Tony Blair MP visited Penygraig Community Project.
HRH Prince Charles visited the Penyrenglyn Project for the official opening.
Purchased Little Bryn Gwyn from Barnardo’s.
Won Arts & Business Award for the most creative and innovative partnership with a business.
Work began on Soar Ffrwdamos Centre.
15 young people from three Valleys Kids centres cycled the length of Wales.
Completed a £2.4m refurbishment of Soar Ffrwdamos Centre. Opened by First Minister Rhodri Morgan AM.
Feeling Good Conference with special guest, the Barefoot Doctor.
Work began on the Vestry redevelopment.
Completed a £750,000 refurbishment of the Vestry in Penygraig.
Children from all four Centres performed for HRH Prince William in the Millennium Stadium with Amampondo.
Won the BURA award for Community Regeneration
Visit by HRH Prince William of Wales to Dinas Project and Soar Centre
Launched Rhondda Lives digital story project in partnership with BBC and National Sound and Screen Archive of Wales
The Vestry of Soar Centre was opened by Pontypridd writer, Elaine Morgan
Chosen to be one of the five Cultural Olympiad Projects in Wales, with the Mzansi Cymru linking our Valleys with Townships in Cape Town, South Africa
ArtWorks received a Beacon Award
Secured Big Lottery ‘Life Skills’ Tender for working with disadvantaged families
ArtWorks became Arts Council of Wales revenue client
Secured the Pop Factory in Porth to ensure Valleys Kids long-term sustainability.
Secured Gateway Tenders to support youth & family work
Culmination of the Mzansi Cymru linking project in the spectacular, multi-media production of Torchbearers in Donald Gordon Theatre, Wales Millennium Centre with 54 performers from Townships around Cape Town and in Artscape Theatre, Cape Town with 54 performers from the Valleys.
BBC Wales Documentary – 2 x 30 minute episodes about the life-changing journeys of Valleys’ young people taking part in the Mzansi Cymru Project
‘Can you Hear Me?’ book published, written by Liz Cutland focussing on Valleys Kids and the impact on the lives of beneficiaries since its inception in 1977.
Chosen to be one of the projects taking part in Arts Council of Wales initiative: Ideas, People & Places in partnership with Artes Mundi
Refurbishment of Art in the Attic Gallery in The Factory, adding disabled access thanks to funding from the Colwinston Trust & support from Knox & Wells Construction
Secure Arts Council of Wales revenue status for ArtWorks initiative
ArtWorks renamed and rebranded into Sparc