Walking up to the gates of Ysgol Gymraeg Gwynllyw took Community Fundraiser Neil Davies right back to his first day at school in the 1980s.
Neil had fond memories of his time in the classroom and was excited to be invited back 30 years later to speak to current pupils about his work at Shelter Cymru.
“It was a really proud moment for me,” said Neil, who dreamed as a youngster of growing up to work for a charity.
Neil, who has been working as Regional Fundraiser for South Wales for a year, was invited to Ysgol Gymraeg Gwynllyw in Pontypool as part of the First Give programme.
First Give encourages young people to identify social problems, like homelessness, in their communities and research charities which work to tackle those problems.
Pupils must work together on a social action project, which can include campaigning, raising awareness or fundraising for their chosen cause.
Rhiannon Youssef, Programme Manager at First Give, said the scheme has positive effects on students’ personal development, adding: “It also creates a more cohesive community, linking schools with charities operating in their local area.”
During their second lesson, pupils are asked to decide which charity they would like to support and are encouraged to get in touch.
Several groups chose to support Shelter Cymru, including from Bishop Hedley High School in Merthyr Tydfil, Pentrehafod School in Swansea and Radyr Comprehensive School in Cardiff.
Neil was delighted to hear from the teachers and pupils and went along to meetings to tell them about Shelter Cymru’s work defending the right to a safe home in Wales.
He explained that Shelter Cymru uses advice, campaigns and support to fight the devastating impact of the housing emergency on people and society.
Neil continued to support the students throughout the term, as they worked on their presentations. He also went along to the final, where the winners were awarded a £1,000 grant for their charity.
Rhiannon said: “The highlight of the programme for me is attending the school final. It’s always such a joyous occasion and culmination of the whole programme, where we celebrate the hard work the year group have done for their charity.”
Neil explained there were a lot of benefits to taking part in First Give: “The possibility of potential new fundraisers, making greater links with the local community, the element of raising awareness and, of course, the possibility of winning the £1,000 grant.”
Between 2014 and 2023, First Give has empowered nearly 200,000 young people to make a difference, with 1,254 charities winning the £1,000 grant.
For more information about how you can support Shelter Cymru, visit our fundraising page.
28 November 2023
By Liz Day