Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, has visited young people from the Brynfarm and Coed Cae estates who have taken the fashion world by storm with their latest project, ‘It’s Called Ffasiwn’.
The event was held to celebrate the achievements of the young people following their three-year project, carried out in partnership with photographers Clémentine Schneidermann and Charlotte James.
The project saw young people from the Brynfarm and Coed Cae Interact youth groups learn skills such as sewing, customising clothes and styling, before putting their newfound skills into practise to produce a professional photoshoot.
During his visit, the youngsters told the PCC all about their newfound confidence and fame.
After the event, Mr Cuthbert said, “It is overwhelming to listen to the young people here today and to hear the pride in their voices at what they have achieved.
“Unfortunately, young people from our more deprived areas in Gwent are often stereotyped and expectations for them can be low.
“This group have shown, not just to us in Gwent, but to people around the world, that our youngsters can achieve outstanding results given some support and belief.”
The images, now on public exhibition at the Martin Parr Foundation, have since been published around the world by a number of high profile publications including Vogue and The New Yorker.
Co-founder of the two Interact youth groups, and incoming President of Rotary (Great Britain and Ireland), Donna Wallbank, spoke of her pride following the official opening of the exhibition last month, “The pride I feel every time I am with the young people is just like that of parent watching their own child grow.
“Seeing the effort they put in, knowing how they trust us to take them out of their comfort zones, how they inspire us encourages me to find their next activity.
“When I saw in the gallery those wonderful pictures, I burst with pride, I shed a tear and I knew that making that difference is what is important.
“I am proud to work with Michelle, the Brynmawr CSO’s, our volunteers and the young people themselves.”
The project was primarily supported by the local Brynmawr Rotary Club alongside youth worker Michelle Hurter, Blaenau Gwent Community Support Officers (CSO) Linzi Nicholls and Joanne Robbins, and Gwent Police Income Generation Officer, Stacey Taylor.
Stacey became involved in the project after hearing that the young people were unlikely to attend the opening exhibition of their photographs.
“I was blown away by the amount of hard work undertaken by the groups over the last three years.
“It was therefore upsetting to hear that the young people involved did not expect to be able to attend the exhibition, telling me, we know we don't get to go to places like that.
“That’s when I spoke to our Local Policing Area Commander, Chief Inspector Jason White, who released £500 from community funding, allocated by the PCC.
“I feel it is important that others in the community are encouraged to identity and apply for funding, and, to be aware of the support that is available to them.”
If you are part of a community group and would like more information about possible funding opportunities, contact Stacey via email, Stacey.email@example.com.
The exhibition is available to the public until May 25, 2019. For more information, visit www.martinparrfoundation.org.
A round up from the PCC's visit can be found on the OPCC YouTube page www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUC_O89PQjs.