2014 – The Year Pride In Pill Was Born

In February 2014, Newport City Council stopped the bus service running along Commercial Rd in Pillgwenlly (or Pill for short). Margaret Morgan had a conversation with Paul Murphy. They talked about the amount of litter along Commercial Rd and many other streets in the Pill area.

Paul was very much in agreement with Margaret and decided that something should be done to tackle this ongoing problem.

We managed to gather a group of local volunteers at the Pill Millennium (Pill Mill) Community Centre. Some even brought their small children along that sunny afternoon back in March 2014 to help with the litter pick.

We started off in the local playing fields, along Commercial Rd and other side streets and back lanes. We collected dozens of bags of rubbish for about 2 hours, then we met back at Pill Mill for some light refreshments. This is when our voluntary environmental group, Pride In Pill was founded.

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The Growth of PiP Throughout South Wales

Ever since 2014, Pride In Pill has grown in size, awareness and activities. Our volunteers have organised litter picks and clean-up operations for over 300 festivals, marathons and various community events throughout South Wales.

Soon afterwards, we started going around cutting overgrown bushes and cleaning up the riverbanks along the River Usk. This is when our staff and volunteers started noticing hazardous objects from fly tipping waste, rusty shopping trolleys along the riverbanks and even used needles discarded after heroin drug use!

Around a year or so later, people from other areas started noticing what we were doing for our local environment. They came to us for advice and quickly started voluntary clean up groups of their own.

Our volunteers and supporters grew every year with excitement because other Welsh cities started similar groups for their communities too. By this time we’ve collected 100s of tonnes of rubbish over a 3 year period.

pip environmental voluntary group cleanup map
Regular “hot spots” where we carry out clean up operations along the banks of the River Usk and Newport city centre

Festivals and community event organisers would get in touch to see if we could organise litter clean ups after their events. We have so many treasured memories of the festival operations as well as our regular litter picks around Pill.

Paul receives an invite from Her Majesty The Queen

By 2017 we have been blessed with a few awards and certificates of achievement. However, no one at Pride In Pill expected an invitation to a party with The Queen at Buckingham Palace. When Paul opened the envelope and read the invitation, he certainly missed a heartbeat or two! Everyone at Pride In Pill was filled with joy because we were about to gain recognition from royalty. This was something we would never have dreamed of.

pride in pill mbe queen invite party awards
“We had the best day ever here!” – Paul Murphy

It is understood that Her Majesty is very “picky” when deciding who should receive one of her Awards for volunteers. On 8th September 2017, Lord Lieutenant of Gwent (the Queen’s personal representative) presented Pride In Pill with an MBE for Voluntary Service. This prestigious glass trophy was to become known as PIP’s “Jewel in the Crown”.

PiP expanding it’s voluntary & environmental activities

2017 will always be remembered as one of the most historical years for PiP, with everlasting treasured memories. Our volunteers grew further in numbers and we soon realised the build-up of trash along the Usk’s river banks.

There was an increase of used needles around Pill and Newport’s city centre. We’d find them in all sorts of places such as playing fields, lanes, car parks etc. So because of this, some of our staff attended sharps training courses during August 2018. This is legally required for the handling of needles, broken glass and hazardous objects. In addition we are also trained in disposing these dangerous items safely, whilst liaising with the local council.

Pride in Pill launches the Wrap Up Newport campaign

PiP is the first community group in Wales to start doing regular voluntary clean ups which makes us very proud. When we started the riverbanks and sharps operations in 2018, we noticed an increase of people living rough. Winter began approaching so they needed to be kept warm and fed well. Several local businesses got onboard shortly afterwards, and we started handing out food parcels to the elderly.

Another Welsh first was the Wrap Up Newport campaign, launched on the 1st November 2018. Our members spent the whole month tirelessly collecting clothing. We also had support from Hands On London who’ve been running a successful “Wrap Up London” campaign for several years.

The Wrap Up Newport campaign was a huge success and we were overwhelmed with the response from Newport’s public. Thousands of items were collected that month mainly coats, jackets and tents for refugees, homeless and elderly people.

PIP’s Continued Success

The support from both local and national business grew and we often featured in the South Wales Argus. We’ve also provided haircuts for the homeless with support from local barbers whilst successfully launching our food bank. In addition, PIP also won the Pride In Gwent Award and was nominated for the National Diversity Awards 2018.

As the year 2020 arrived, PIP was averaging around 50 litter picks per year and over 60 “Supporting The Homeless” food runs. We’ve seen our friendships grow and our group go from strength to strength. PIP’s dedicated team provided a few coach trips with plans of doing them every year. The Christmas Toy Appeal was also a great success.

How Covid affected PIP operations

We had so much planned for the year ahead. From community trips and Elvis night to the litter picks and homeless runs. However, come March the Covid pandemic took over all our lives. PIP took the difficult decision to scale back its events. Volunteers suddenly needed to shield or care for loved ones.

Our Chairman Paul Murphy has continued to support the community throughout the pandemic with a small group of volunteers and their commitment to PIP is commendable. There was support from some fantastic local businesses once again through our meal voucher scheme including Le Pub, Hatti, Lahore, Falafilo Island and many more. We are truly grateful especially with so many local businesses struggling to survive the pandemic.

What PIP is really about

Pride In Pill is mainly about people from all walks of life working together. It’s about community getting out and about, keeping your mind active and having common goals. We try to bring communities together to be accepted, understood and having a voice. Pride In Pill will continue to work tirelessly to build community spirit across our city. We love what we do and our volunteers’ character and personalities makes our group shine.

Paul would like to reflect over the years and say a huge thank you to all our supporters and volunteers both past and present. Their kindness, dedication and compassion was, and still is remarkable. You really are the most selfless, generous and caring people. Our volunteers have worked tirelessly since Pride In Pill was founded in 2014.

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