People’s Fellow Award
Cardiff University’s first People’s Fellow is announced
This special Fellowship recognises an individual who has demonstrated a sustained and positive contribution to their local community through their activities, and will be bestowed as part of the University’s 125th anniversary celebrations during Graduation 2008.
This is the first time the honour of becoming a University Fellow has been awarded to a member of the public. The winner, Margaret McCarter Jervis, was chosen by a panel of judges, which included the University’s Vice-Chancellor Dr David Grant, Strategic Development Director, Louise Casella, President of the Students’ Union, Johnny Cox, and editor of the South Wales Echo, Mike Hill.
Margaret McCarter Jervis is the founder and operational director of Valleys Kids.
Having left school at 15, with little or no qualifications Margaret first began volunteering in her home village as a Life Boy leader. Going onto head up a group which took over the closed infant school, Margaret was instrumental in raising funds to convert the building into the first youth centre in the village. Her skills led to a full-time career in youth work, and her experiences to setting-up the Penygraig Community Project.
Now, 30 years down the line, the initiative has expanded to become Valleys Kids, a charitable community development project offering services to communities across Rhondda Cynon Taf and Bridgend, with an overarching purpose to develop innovative and creative ways to empower people to not only achieve their own potential, and deliver services and activities which answers the needs of their community.
Valleys Kids helps people of all ages, offering services to the community such as mother and toddler groups, healthcare, computer courses and coffee mornings for the elderly. There is also a bus that goes to villages and offers courses in subjects such as multi-media and art. The organisation, which has bases in Penygraig, Rhydyfelin, Penyreng-lyn and Dinas, now employs 50 people and has countless more volunteers.
Margaret has changed the lives of literally thousands of people across the south Wales region, many living in some of the most challenging of situations. She has been instrumental in achieving significant change, particularly in the field of youth policy, and champions daily the needs of people of all ages, and in particular young people, at grass root level, taking them to an all-Wales, and national stage.
She played a key role in establishing the Play Wales Chwarae Cymru. She chaired the Play Policy Implementation Group which saw the Wales Assembly Government become the first government in the world to have a national Play Policy. She was asked to chair the working group to develop a youth policy for Wales, resulting in the Assembly policy for youth provision ‘Extending Entitlement – support for all young people in Wales’.
Since 1999, Margaret has been Vice Chair of WCVA. She is also a member of ‘Fframwaith’ the Children and Young People’s Partnership in Rhondda Cynon Taf, chairs the Strategy Group for Play, and sits on the Strategy Group for Youth Provision.
Margaret was awarded an MBE for services to the Rhondda in 1997 and became Deputy Lieutenant Mid Glamorgan in 2004. In January of 2008 Valleys Kids won the British Urban Regeneration Award.