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South Wales college embark on charity walk to support local baby bank

Learners and tutors from a South Wales college have taken part in a charity walk to raise awareness of a local baby bank and drive vital donations needed to support struggling new parents in the community.

Over 40 learners at Coleg y Cymoedd, who are all studying Independent Learning Skills (ILS) courses at college, stepped out of their comfort zones to show their support for Taffs Well-based charity, Cwtch Baby Bank.

Joined by a number of staff, they took part in a three-mile round trip from Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus to the charity’s Taffs Well distribution base, donning baby grows and other baby paraphernalia, and bringing with them trollies full of essential donations including toiletries for both mothers and babies.

Dedicated to helping learners with learning difficulties and physical disabilities develop independent living skills and enter employment, Coleg y Cymoedd’s ILS courses, which sit within its Vocational Access department, have been collecting donated items of clothing and sanitary products for new mums and babies over the last few weeks as part of a learning module focused on community work.

Launched in 2016 and the first charity of its kind in Wales, Cwtch Baby Bank focuses on redistributing pre-loved baby items to vulnerable families in the local area. The charity provides essential equipment, clothing and toiletries for newborn to 24 months old babies through referrals from social care, health professionals and other relevant support, ensuring donations go directly to those most in need.

Allison Thomas, a Vocational Access Lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd, felt compelled to focus her course’s community module on the charity after hearing about it from one of her learners, Amy Johnson, whose mum Hillary originally founded the organisation after realising that no charities in Wales at the time were taking baby donations.

Allison said: “Our learners have been thrilled to get involved in helping such a worthwhile cause and have loved every moment.

“For many learners on ILS courses, the personal difficulties that they face can make it hard for them to go about their day to day lives or enter employment after education, but many do go on to volunteer for charities, which is why our community module is so important to them. It’s something that inspires them and helps them learn essential skills like teamwork and communication.

“With the physical and social challenges many of these learners face, completing a three-mile walk is no mean feat – it’s a huge achievement for them and they are all so proud that they have been able to support an important charity while reaching a personal milestone.”

Hillary Johnston, Founder of Cwtch baby bank, said: “I was really touched when I heard that staff and learners wanted to support Cwtch baby bank. They had heard about the charity through my daughter, Amy, who is one of the learners on the ILS course, and I had also visited the campus previously to talk about the work that we do, which I know the learners found inspiring.

“They felt more connected to our charity as a result and were really enthusiastic about getting involved in fundraising, which is so lovely.

“We work on a referral basis, with referrals coming from health professionals dealing with families in need, and we rely on donations to keep us going so that we can continue to help as many people as possible. Every single donation we get makes a big difference and we are so grateful to everyone at Cymoedd who has taken the time to help us.”