We only met just prior to the pandemic. We’ve spent the time since working as part of a team of volunteers, with local community organisations shopping, collecting and delivering medications and generally supporting the well-being of people in the area. We were both elected to the Community Council in a by-election last year.

It was natural, when boundary changes meant two local wards were merged, requiring 2 councillors, for us to both seek to be candidates for the County Borough Council. Sonia was seeking re-election and Sarah as a first-time candidate.

We wanted to make our commitment to our co-operative values a key factor of our campaign and what better way to do it than to seek endorsement as Labour and Co-operative Party Candidates. Our fairly traditional, rural, ex-mining community has regularly seen very active election campaigns so we did not expect to be elected unopposed. However, it appears from our uncontested election to both Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen Community Council that what people value and want to see more of are representatives who are responsive to the community and work with them to ‘get things done’, who are part of and active in local community organisations and who engage with and support beneficial initiatives locally.

Co-operative initiatives such as community-owned renewable energy and an oil purchasing scheme have worked well in our community and food justice is something that is critical especially with the current cost of living crisis so the local Food Hub is currently developing a Food Co-op and due to the lack of public transport in the area we also have some not for profit Community Transport schemes which are currently expanding and include electric cars and bikes.