Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust WSA Membership Testimonial

The Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust has been a member of the WSA since 2018 and, as per CEO Jane Sellwood, has felt an enormously positive impact from membership.

Jane Sellwood, CEO of Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust

Jane detailed how the WSA had supported the organisation’s transition into a Trust following a challenging beginning:

“Over the years of austerity, we found that we had ended up becoming quite isolated from colleagues in other organisations. With the move from being a local authority to a Trust, this isolation seemed to increase; a structure that was not quite fit for purpose saw people taking on roles that were very different to before, and this exacerbated that feeling of being cut off from colleagues.  

“A strange internal attitude developed which hadn’t been there before and, instead of seeing colleagues in our authorities and Trusts as exactly that, they became competition. But we are all facing the same challenges whether we are private operators, charities or local authorities, and the feeling of community that the WSA gives helps to overcome these feelings.  

“There is somewhere to see good practice, somewhere to shout about our own good practice (although we are still poor at doing that!) and to share the trials and tribulations facing the sector – especially during this coming period of COVID recovery.” 

Jane continued to reveal how the Trust has benefitted from WSA support and services over the years:

“In addition, we found strange the isolation seemingly felt in the leisure aspects of our service as opposed to the cultural services such as Libraries, who have a whole network of support through Libraries Connected and the Society of Chief Librarians (Wales). So, it seemed a natural progression to find somewhere we could develop the same sort of network and support for our leisure services, and I really believe WSA does this. Advocacy is important to us as we navigate a new business model as a Trust, and seeing a collective voice representing us makes us feel part of a wider sector.  

“The ability to access a range of support has helped enormously in developing our own procedures and practices – and the ability to access this at any time through the members resources section is great because as we all know leisure is not a 9-5 service! 

“We have used the DBS checking service, which has been great as the turnaround for the service was much quicker than what we were using previously. But the greatest result has been the ability of the staff to engage and see wider information than their previously narrow perspectives. 

“It’s all there when we need it; we can dip in and dip out of the resources and information. We can use it at all hours of the day – and I am certain I am not the only one in leisure who has had sleepless nights and late night/early morning reading sessions when planning the next move.  

“Update meetings between Welsh Government and the sector as things have changed and progressed have also been incredibly useful, and have informed thinking across other elements of our facilities as well which are more cultural in nature.”

Jane concluded by revealing to the WSA just what membership is like:

“It is like having a sounding board best friend who understands and advocates on the industry’s behalf even if we haven’t asked directly. It’s the passion and care shown to the sector that most stands out.”

To find out more about member benefits, click here.

And to find out how to become a WSA member, click here.

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