Pulling together to give back to the community

Staff at Bridgend College have been working extremely hard over the last few weeks ensuring that teaching and learning has continued, as well as maintaining a network of the vital support that we usually provide our students. But it hasn’t stopped there.

We’ve been out and about in the local community, from volunteering at care homes and making scrub bags, to providing counseling support and donating food and drink to vulnerable people.

At the beginning of the Easter holidays, we partnered with Bridge FM Radio and Bridgend County Borough to deliver 500 easter eggs to children of key workers, teachers and volunteers in hubs across Bridgend and were thrilled to see smiles all round.

Also during the holidays, the last lamb of the season was born at our Pencoed Campus. 202 lambs were born this year, with the help of our fantastic landbased students and staff who worked hard to deliver them all safely during this time.

Many of our Health and Social Care staff and students have been volunteering as front line keyworkers. Care and Childhood Studies lecturer, Claire Leakey, has been looking after elderly residents at a local care home whilst Health and Social Care lecturer, Jodie Trotman, has been volunteering for the NHS. Counseling lecturer, Gill Millin, has been using her skills to not only volunteer as an online counselor for a charity but has also been crocheting face mask tabs for improved comfort for community workers.

Students have also been getting involved. Many of them are currently working as unqualified social workers supporting local authority teams; Claire and Johanna are two of these and continue to work hard in their studies in Level 5 Social Work at the College. Level 4 Social Work student, Joanne, is currently working to provide emergency childcare for children aged 3-5 years whose parents are keyworkers as part of her role as Children’s Services Manager at Flying Start Action for Children. Molly, Chloe, and Bethany, who are all studying Health and Social Care Level 2 at the College, are working as carers within their local communities, making welfare checks on the vulnerable, and  Level 3 Childcare student Courtney, has been hosting teddy bear’s picnics to keep her brothers and sisters occupied during the lockdown. Skills for Health and Social Care Level 2 student, Beth, even braved the shave and raised an incredible amount of £400 for the NHS! HE Care Studies student, Stephanie Seal, is on the frontline on the COVID wards at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Georgina Blackmore and Rhian Vaulter, both Access to Health students, are also keyworkers, as is Lucy Morgan, CACHE Level 3 student, who is making up nomad trays at her local pharmacy.

Our horticulture department has donated vegetable plants grown at the College to Men’s Sheds Cymru, a charity project which provides support and activities, whilst landbased lecturer Sarah Evans, is volunteering as a street champion working with the animals of homeless people. Our Equine Technician, Craig Diggins, has set up an incubator and a direct link for primary school children to watch our chicks hatching virtually.

Our Catering Team recently donated drinks and snacks to the Bridgend Food Bank and a local women’s refuge, Calan DVS, and staff have been utilizing the College’s 3D printers and have so far made 94 face shields and over 600 mask supports for various organizations including, Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Princess of Wales Hospital, Velindre, HMP Swansea, Community Care, Cardiff Dragon Hospital, the Well Pharmacy in Tonteg and Taibach Pharmacy.

In addition, ex-student Sophie Buckeridge and her sister Christie Edwards, who is a Junior Apprenticeship lecturer at the College, have set up Scrub Bags; a group of dedicated people that include Bridgend College staff who have so far made over 800 scrub bags for frontline NHS workers since the outbreak. The team now has 14 helpers, the youngest being 11 year old Macey who has made 120 scrub bags alone! The community have kindly donated fabric, bedding sheets, ribbon and so much more to help this fantastic cause. If you’d like to donate, offer your help or know someone who needs these, visit the Facebook group here or the group’s donation page here

We are so proud of our wonderful students and staff who have all pulled together during this difficult time to offer not only help and support to each other but also to the local and wider community.

A huge thank you to all who have contributed!