The Valleys in Wales have changed - what do they need from politicians post-election?

ITV News Wales Correspondent Rupert Evelyn hears from Rhondda residents ahead of Wales' upcoming election

Young people born with "no living memory of coal in the Rhondda” have been asking: what is the current purpose of the Valleys and what does the future look like? These are questions politicians must answer as Wales heads towards polling day.

Industrial heritage cannot be ignored given the legacy of health-related issues from the past that have played their part in some truly dreadful Covid infection and mortality statistics. But, there is a new Valleys culture centred on stunning scenery and the environmental agenda that all parties are selling. The Rhondda Skyline organisation aims to bring people closer to the landscape they live in.

That cannot be achieved in isolation and groups like theirs are taking small steps that may lead to big community changes. However, they need politicians to help them realise the dream.

Matthew Reardon is the project manager looking for support.

"People are thinking differently, people have been a little bit bolder, they’re thinking much more creatively," he said. The pandemic has left a mark on the Valleys.

At times the infection rates were some of the highest in the UK.

High up on the hill is a memorial to those who did not survive. A constant reminder of the darkest days of the crisis. Bev Johnson helped build it.

Her mother died with Covid in January and as she looks to the future of Wales, she wants political support focused on recovery.

“The impact will be for a number of years. People won't forget what everybody's gone through,” she said.

A memorial in the Valleys to those who did not survive the pandemic.

She also worries about about the lasting impact of the pandemic on mental health, saying, “you need some services but you just can't get any appointments.” We last visited Treorchy a year ago then it was locked down.

Now, it’s remarkable to see a thriving high street again. However, financial worries haven’t vanished and firms need change to drive growth.

“Small businesses have suffered,” said pub landlord Adrian Emmett who is also chair of the local Chamber of Trade.

He see opportunity but wants business rates tackled.

He's also calling for support for those left out of work by the pandemic, in order to help them get back in business. Covid has changed so much but has it impacted the politics of this place?

It’s been a long five years since the last Senedd Elections. Now, voters have chance to have their say on who drives this nation next.

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