On Monday 9th April, twenty five girls from Port Talbot launched their two-week billboard campaign to try and improve public perceptions of their home town.

After interviewing hundreds of Swansea shoppers about their perceptions of Port Talbot and hearing their home town described as having “no future, only history” and a place where there was “no reason to go”, the group of Year 8 girls became determined to reveal the real identity of Port Talbot beyond the smoke of the Steelworks.

With a nod to the Steelworks but the view of an exciting future with community at the heart, 3 girls, Chloe Edwards, Lili Bansko & Eleanor Modridge conjured up the slogan of ‘Port Talbot STEELS your Imagination’ and got straight to work on the design and campaign strategy.

Lili said: "I'm proud of our original idea and the poster. We were shocked that people saw our town in such a negative light. Port Talbot has a brilliant beach and good people who are friendly and look after each other. The Steelworks is important but it's not everything"

 

The rest of the girls loved the slogan and design so much that they ordered 3000 postcards and handed them out around the town as part of their effort to improve public perceptions and build a strong community spirit.
RECLAIM staff then sourced additional funding from The Clothworkers Foundation to pay for one billboard and an additional 18 bus stop shelters throughout Port Talbot.

Over the past 8 months, the girls have written their own manifesto and spent weekends working to achieve social change around each of the points. The girls were also chosen to represent their community onstage at Royal Festival Hall in London at the WOW Festival, where they spoke eloquently about increasing opportunities for young girls from South Wales and even gained support from Labour MP Stephen Kinnock who has supported the programme from day one.

Stephen later told parliament; “The girls of #PTPerfect have put together a manifesto of issues that are important to them – like homelessness, supporting local businesses & giving girls the opportunity to be seen and to be heard. They’ve campaigned tirelessly on these issues and engaged actively with a range of community figures about them.”

Listen to the full speech here - Shout out to the #PT Perfect Girls from 9:18 minutes in. 

Rhys Barfoot, Youth Lead for the project said: “The girls have worked tirelessly for 8 months. Giving up their weekends to change perceptions of their town and to prove that there is so much talent and potential here if people give young people a chance to be seen and heard.”


To celebrate their campaign launch, the girls printed another 5000 copies of their postcards which were handed out during their graduation and will be left in public spaces in the hope that community members will take one, display it in their window and share with friends and family to help build the positive community spirit that Port Talbot deserves.

 

To find out more about the campaign and get involved in the discussion, follow us on Twitter at - @RECLAIMproject using hashtag #PTPerfect