A photography exhibition celebrating the contribution made by volunteers in Wales is now on display at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea.

The annual photography competition held by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), the umbrella body for third sector organisations in Wales, attracted entries from organisations ranging from large charities with hundreds of volunteers to small community groups.

The top 15 selected are exhibited at the display until this Sunday (July 13), and will later be on show at the WCVA’s stand at the National Eisteddfod in Llanelli from 2-9 August.

The winning entry was taken by Kieran Ridley for Time to Change Wales (TTCW), the first national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems in Wales. It was taken as part of TTCW’s ‘Be Extraordinary’ campaign last year, which featured Time to Change Wales Champions – volunteers with personal experience of mental illness – along with friends, family members and colleagues dressed as ninjas, astronauts and other ‘extraordinary’ characters to show that anyone can make an extraordinary difference when someone they know experiences mental health problems just by being a friend.

Entitled ‘You don't need to be a superhero’, the winning photograph shows Dai, who lives with schizophrenia, and his friend Peter. It conveys that you don't need to be a superhero to talk about mental health problems - you just need to be there.

Dai said:

“The response from people has been brilliant, I think the whole campaign has hit a chord with people and opened up a line of conversation which after all is the point of the campaign - to get people talking.

The day of the shoot was real fun, Pete and I came away with a great pic that not only helped lift the campaign with some humour but something that we are both proud to be a part of. I also think that the ‘super hero’ sandals and specs made the shot natural yet surreal. Many people have seen us propping up the bar like that - not in hero costume but in that setting nevertheless.

Out of the other pics in the campaign my favourite is Manon and her spaceman Dad - brilliant, again with humour in a completely natural setting.”

Acting WCVA Chief Executive Phil Jarrold said:

“We wanted our members to snap their volunteers doing what they do best - improving the lives of others’

Time to Change Wales Programme Manager Antony Metcalfe said: ‘We’re delighted to have won this award. Sharing the experiences of people living with mental health problems is at the heart of everything we do, so it’s wonderful to get this recognition for our Champion Dai and his friend Pete, who are the stars of the photo - and for all the other Champions who posed for photos and shared their stories to show that anyone can be “extraordinary” by being a friend when someone has a mental health problem.”

The National Waterfront Museum is part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, has free entry and is open seven days a week, from 10am-5pm.

Exhibitions and Programmes Officer Andrew Deathe said:

“The National Waterfront Museum is really proud to be hosting the WCVA photographic competition once again.

As someone who started my career as a volunteer in a museum, I know that volunteering is a fulfilling and rewarding experience and these great photographs show that. Our museum is all about the work that Welsh people have done for the last three centuries and we’re really happy to show that volunteers are a vital part of the national workforce.”

The other groups featured in the exhibition are: Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale, Keep Wales Tidy, Pembrokeshire 21C Community Association, Western Valleys Communities First, Tenovus, Vale CVS, St David’s Hospice, ValePlus, Antur Waunfawr, Port Talbot and Afan Women’s Aid, RCT People First, Flintshire and Wrexham Watch Association and Stroke.

For further information contact Gethin Jones, and you can see photographs here.

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