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this was a class to help our volunteers learn new skills,

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Learning with us Lifelong Learning Video


“School wasn’t a good experience for me. The teachers didn’t explain much to me and I didn’t get along with some of them. In the end I had to leave. It was a relief in a weird way. At Arts Factory I work on the Factory Books project, listing books and handling sales. I love it here. I love the people I work with and the feeling that this is something I can do. I have learned a lot too – how to work as part of a team and how to use spreadsheets. In the future I would like to get a job in IT.”

Andrew M

“I am forty four years old. When I was younger I had a bad accident that put me in a wheelchair and left me unable to speak. I have been coming to Arts Factory for over ten years now. My support worker Jerry comes with me. I stamp books with an ink stamp to show that they have come from Factory Books. The main reason I come is for the company. I have a lot of good friends here and they are always happy to see me. That makes me more confident about myself. If Arts Factory wasn’t here I would be stuck in the house. I would probably wish I was dead.” (In memory of Carl)

Carl M

“I’m in my mid forties. I spent fourteen years working as a printer and then my back went. I had damaged the discs in my spine and I was out of work. I already had a speech impediment and by then my confidence was really low. I went to the job centre looking for light work and I was so nervous I could hardly get a word out – so they sent me to Remploy! It would have been a comedy but it was actually my life. Luckily someone at Remploy realised it was just a stammer, not a learning disability, and they suggested I find out about volunteering at Arts Factory instead. My self-confidence has returned and my stammer is nowhere near as bad as it was. I’ve decided that I would like pursue a career as a professional support worker. I don’t think Arts Factory always gets the support it deserves – from the local community or from funders. There is no-one else around here doing this work. People need it and we need to keep it going.” I am currently working as a bus driver for Stagecoach Wales.

Neil I

“I have been going to the Arts Factory for 20 years. I like sorting the books into boxes for the staff downstairs. I like the team and enjoy having lunch with them, and go to class with Keith.”

Christopher S

“I like coming to the Arts Factory as I am with a lot of people and I like them. We like to eat food together. I like Highfield but also like it here at Trerhondda. I like the class on Thursday with Keith as he makes it fun for all of us and we laugh a lot. I have been coming to the Arts Factory for five years.”

Helen M

“I enjoy coming to the Arts Factory every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I enjoy using the computers to do the Amazon books as I find these books very interesting when I read them. I also like to meet new people and become their friend. I have been coming to the Arts Factory for twenty-one years; it has become a big part of my life.”

Neil H

“I like Arts Factory because I enjoy meeting nice people. I help out in the playgroup making tea for the parents and refreshments for the children, singing songs and reading stories. I help with the cleaning and help out in the finance office.”

Mark G

“I started in the Arts Factory when it opened in 1990. I have been there for twenty-six years. When I started I used to come to work by bus. The boss and staff help me do my jobs. I meet other people at the Arts Factory who do the same jobs as me. I also help out the playgroup and I like doing mosaics.”

Liz F

"I have volunteered with the Arts Factory for 2 years, during this time I have been trained in many different areas of work. I began by listing books on the Amazon retail website, once I became confident with listing books they moved me onto sales, reception work and customer service by greeting visitors to the building. The experience of volunteering with the Arts Factory has improved my confidence in working, has improved my skills and provided a great working environment with friendly workmates.

Martyn G

“I have been a volunteer for the last seven and a half years on and off. Before I came here all I did was walk to Tonypandy Library or Ferndale Library to do job search and walk back to the flat I had in Penrhys. The only time I caught the bus was to go up my mother’s to help her out. I kept to myself and did not socialise. It was through going into the back to work scheme with Ty Catrin in Pontypridd I was introduced to Arts Factory on work experience placement. I was taught how to lists books on the Amazon website and to handle the sale orders and more. Arts Factory has helped me to regain my social skills and manage my money better. I have found myself something I love to do and the people here have saved me from myself. I hope now I will get a job as a receptionist or administrator in the near future.”

Samantha T

“Working as a volunteer at Arts Factory has helped to make a great difference to my life it’s increased my confidence, I’ve learned new skills and improved my work experience. The other volunteers are fun to work with and the atmosphere is enjoyable. I started with little experience of working in an office but now have gained considerable experience. I have also become a director of the company. I have a lot to thank Arts Factory for and would recommend volunteering here to anybody. I have now gained full time employment at Dominos as a delivery driver”

Barry T

“I have been working with the Arts Factory for about 4+years, my new skills I have learnt while working here are working on a computer, doing warehouse work and picking up stock on the van, I have now got an up to date Manual Handling certificate and First aid certificate. If I weren’t coming to Arts Factory I would be bored and fed up, I am now meeting new people and friends, and I have gained more confidence from being here, I will tell other people about the Arts Factory so they can come here too.”

Tom W

“I came to Arts Factory first in 1999 to do gardening, during my 12 months I was trained up to do gardening, sowing plants, working on regeneration projects, shop work in the garden centre and helping out the volunteers, I really enjoyed my time there and learned a lot of new skills. I only left in 2000 due to family issues. I came back to Arts Factory in 2007 on a government work scheme to do admin/data entry, I have now been with Arts Factory 10 years as a volunteer, I have been trained up to do admin work, data entry, selling online using Amazon storefront, warehouse work, financial spreadsheets, building management and mentoring vulnerable adults. I find the work challenging but worthwhile.

In October 2017 I have been employed by Arts Factory as the factory books co-ordinator.”

Stuart G

When I first started volunteering about 4 years ago I was pretty quiet around new people didn’t talk much and they helped me feel comfortable around other people it’s a nice friendly work environment I’ve learnt to answer and transfer phone calls which enabled me to be more confident while talking on the phone, I also learnt customer service as I deal with sales and e-mail customers. I also earned my first aid certificate and became a first aider and feel like I’ve grown a lot from where I was when I first joined as I have a lot more confidence in myself.

Jamie P

I started volunteering at the Arts Factory in early 2016, working on the book project. I began with checking and listing books for sale on Amazon. As time progressed, I moved onto sales, as well as minor reception work. I have been trained to do admin work, data entry, selling products online using Amazon, warehouse work, financial spreadsheets, building management and mentoring vulnerable adults.

When I started, I was very shy and socially awkward. Being here I have come to meet a lot of people, which has help to build my confidence around new people.

I was able to complete a couple of courses, including: First aid, Manual Handling and Food Hygiene.

I feel that I have grown as a person since joining Arts Factory, I have more confidence in myself, I have learned new skills as well as gained valuable experience.

Nicky S

In late 2015 I started volunteering at the arts factory. At the start my motivation and self-confidence was very low due to being out of work for a long period of time. I was also fairly quiet but the other volunteers and members of staff were very friendly which helped me to relax and to become part of the team. My first jobs were to data entry, quality checking and listing books on to amazon website. As time went on my confidence grew and I took on more responsibilities such as becoming Team leader, assisting vulnerable adults and the disabled, sales, reception and administration duties, and warehouse work.
Since being here I have been giving a lot of training opportunities to help me achieve and excel within the Arts factory such as First aid, Food Hygiene, Manual Handling and disability inclusion which allows me to run my own fitness class with the volunteers who have learning difficulties.
Joining the arts factory has got to be one of the best decisions I have made because it has help me to get my self-confidence back, gain skills and experience ready for employment, become part of such a amazing team and I’ve made friends for life.

Sean E

Starting in the Arts Factory, I found it difficult because I held no confidence, and I suffered with social anxiety where meeting new people, and going to new places. I started off with doing one day a week, where I learned the ropes in checking books. As time went on I learned how to do other things where the books were concerned and I gained more confidence, in my first year and it helped me a lot in other aspects of my life. I became a team leader and helped other volunteers with their work and supported them. I did eventually become the main team leader of the Fun Factory Playgroup, which I adore running. I did have a little bit of a bad patch, where things became very stressful for me, but I was supported well by the people here and they helped me through it, working here has been very good for me, and has helped with my mental health, and while there are days I do still struggle I know that I have the support here and I have grown so much from where I started to today.


My name is Rhys and I worked at Arts Factory for almost two years from January 2018 to December 2019. I did work as a Social Media Manager for a year here before taking on more responsibility as a Receptionist too. With help from the people working here and the opportunities I was given I was able to overcome my fear of answering phones and can now do so confidently. I was also able to improve my written communication through writing ad copies for our social media sites.

The experience working with colleagues and customers gave me the competencies to get full time work as an apprentice at Specsavers and I am grateful to Arts Factory for giving me the opportunity to grow and gain workplace skills!

Rhys Hajas