Valleys Steps is celebrating its second birthday, substituting the lavish outward facing event of last year, for an intimate gathering with trustees, staff and volunteers to celebrate the achievements of the past year. We were the new kids on the block aiming to raise our profile, and establish ourselves as a necessary and worthwhile addition to local mental health services. Through hard work, promotion and the co-operation of our partners we are now an integral component of the Cwm Taf wellbeing strategy.

Sadly we will be saying goodbye to our CEO Felicity Crump, who has worked tirelessly to keep this service developing and moving forward. Felicity will be greatly missed at Valleys Steps and all the team wish her well and thank her for all of her efforts. Felicity has played a massive role in the organisations growth and it is fitting we celebrate her contribution and the organisations birthday together.

One of our greatest successes this year has been an exponential growth in followers on social media. On Jan 1st 2017 Valleys Steps had 140 followers on Twitter and 98 likes on Facebook.  As of April 2018 we have 630 followers on Twitter and 1444 likes on Facebook. Working hard to ensure we raise our profile on social media, Practitioner Bethan Jones, has provided regular posts following the latest trends and hot topics. Big thanks also goes to all of our blog contributors at Valleys Steps and guest writers, also massive thanks to everyone who contributed to our social media. We are very grateful to anyone who interacted with us.

Getting our message out to local communities has been one of Valleys Steps’ goals. Using  stands at events and information sessions has resulted in face to face contact with over 750 people. Also, making regular appearances on Pontypridd based radio station GTFM  has been a massive help and we are very grateful for this and hope we can continue working together.

One way we maintain interest in our project is by continuing to innovate and try new things. This year we have worked with Actif Woods, delivering outdoor mindfulness sessions as well as continuing to offer our services to local businesses including schools, offices and fire departments.

Valleys Steps relies on the vital contribution of our volunteers; without them the service would not be able to deliver the courses. We would like to say a massive thank you to all of the volunteers who make the difference to what we do. Our Volunteer Development Manager, Jane Thomas has been working very hard to ensure the volunteers receive the plaudits they deserve. Two of our Merthyr based volunteers, Jonathan Richards and Gwyneth Murphy were honored this year by Hollywood Actor and community champion Michael Sheen at the Redhouse in Merthyr Tydfil in September this year. Well done both!!

The most important things we have done this year however, is to continue to improve the lives of our course attendees. The following is a graph for Stress Control last quarter:

 

The following is a graph for mindfulness:

Key: Green = High wellbeing, Red = medium wellbeing, Blue = low wellbeing.

 

To end this review, I’d like to personally reflect on my experience as a Well Being Course Practitioner. My first day as a part-time team member was  a week before Valleys Steps’ first birthday!

This has been an important year; I have experienced the great skill and competence of a staff fully invested in this trailblazing project. While we sit in the office racking our brain for marketing ideas, or bouncing ideas for inventive ways to reach isolated members of the public, what binds us is a belief in what we are doing; changing the way mental health is dealt with and empowering the people of the South Wales Valleys. Personally it has been truly humbling to see people coming to courses, nervous, brow beaten and despondent and to see them leave, after six weeks, changed. And while it is fantastic to be told how you have helped, what is most powerful about what we do is that we didn’t make any of the changes, they did!! We didn’t take them to the destination, we just showed them the way!!

 

Working together this year has been, exciting, challenging and most of all rewarding. While I daresay I can predict what a Valleys Steps private party will talk about, I think the future will be high on the agenda. If there is one thing Valleys Steps has in abundance, it’s ambition. For us, this is just the start and these past two years are just our first steps.

 

Josh Elton

Well Being Course Practitioner