People often complain that the community spirit that the valleys is famous for is lacking these days, yet engaging people in actually doing something on a voluntary basis to help their own communities can be difficult. Cut backs in public spending have in some cases highlighted just how much we have come to depend upon government at all levels to provide things for us.
Yet there are some excellent examples around in RCT of people coming together and embarking upon ambitious projects . The Rhondda Tunnel Society for example who aim to "to reconnect the Rhondda and Afan Valleys via the longest cycling & pedestrian tunnel in Europe." Meanwhile in Abercynon the community came together to re-open their paddling pool which was closed along with others by the Council.
Amongst the best examples of what can be done by a relatively small number of people to help regenerate a community are the projects undertaken in Clydach Vale where millions of pounds of investment have been drawn in over several years.
Very few places can match us when it comes to the amount of voluntary activity that goes on and the facilities that have been brought to the area by the various groups here.
The Cambrian Village Trust, for instance, is responsible for the all-weather sports facility, the 3G pitch and the very popular Lakeside café bar. The Trust was set up originally to provide free football coaching for schools in the Mid Rhondda area and schools soccer is still very much part of its remit. It has grown into so much more and as well as the facilities which are much used by the people of Clydach and further afield it has also brought jobs to the area.
Karen Roberts, Chair of RCT Welsh Lib Dems, was one of the Trust's founding members and is still very much involved. She is also the Chair of the Cwmclydach Development Trust which owns and runs the Community Centre and Sunshine Corner Day Nursery.
Working together the two Trusts had a micro hydro system installed with the help of a £400,000 grant, the money from which helps ensure the sustainability of the community projects .
Karen is proud of the achievements of both organisations
"For a small community we really do have a lot to shout about. There are a number of very active groups here and thanks are due to the people involved who give their time to ensure they continue to thrive.
"Much of the activity relies on volunteers and there is always a need for more of those. We need to ensure the future of these projects and it would be very nice to see new members coming along to play a part.
"There is also an active environment group in the area – the Friends of Cambrian Countryside Park who recently received the "best environmental partnership initiative" award at the recent RCT 'Love Where You Live' event, one of several awards they have won.
"The "Friends" do an excellent job of keeping the countryside park in tip top condition. With the help of grants and working with other organisations they organise litter picks, have had benches and bins provided in the area, and ensure the lakes are kept free of any dumping and cleared of weed once a year.
"All those involved give their time freely and with no reward other than seeing the difference their efforts make to their community. If this level of community spirit were to be replicated all over RCT just think what we could achieve."