A refuse collector from south Wales has been immortalised as an action hero figurine.
Richard Brace from Neath is playing a key role in a national campaign launched today (Thursday) to highlight the often unrecognised contribution of council workers across the UK.
UNISON Cymru/Wales, which represents tens of thousands of public sector staff, aims to show the importance of unsung heroes employed in local government – including a crossing warden, refuse collector, care worker and librarian – who keep their communities running.
The union has turned these neighbourhood stars (pictured above) into realistic action figurines, recognising them for their tireless work delivering vital services day after day that many either take for granted or fail to notice. Accompanying artwork has been designed by an artist who has worked for Marvel comics.
The exclusive superhero-style figures have been created with advanced 3D-printing technology in the exact likeness of four specially chosen council workers from England and Wales.
The collectibles come complete with fully moveable limbs, dressed in their work outfits and feature accessories that mimic the real-life tools of their trade.
Refuse collector Richard Brace has been recreated dressed in his uniform and even has a miniature wheelie bin. He said: “I think people just take council workers for granted and it’s like we’re working in the shadows.
“But once they talk to us and get an understanding of what we’re doing, they appreciate us more.
“There’s a lot of lifting and it’s hard work.”
Richard, 33, lives in Neath and has worked for Neath Port Talbot Council for more than nine years.
He began as a litter picker, moved into the recycling team and after getting his HGV licence four years ago went on to bin collections.
Richard added: “We’re under a lot of strain both physically and mentally, because we occasionally get a hard time from some members of the public. But I really enjoy what I do. I absolutely love the action figure. It’s been a lot of fun working on this.”
The packaging and an accompanying cartoon strip detail how each of the workers – like so many council staff – are everyday heroes in their local authority areas.
UNISON hopes the creation of the action figures will encourage the public to think more about the vital role council workers play in their local communities and appreciate them more
UNISON Cymru/Wales regional secretary Dominic MacAskill said: “Council staff are incredibly passionate about their roles at the heart of communities. But all too often their contributions are overlooked, which can be frustrating for key workers who just want to do all they can to help others.
“For many local authority workers, demands are increasing while council budgets are squeezed. Turning them into action heroes is a great way to put the focus on their superhuman efforts.”
Around 1.3 million people work in local government across England and Wales. Councils provide a vast range of services including planning, waste collection, environmental health, libraries, parks, youth work and social care.