It’s like Toy Story! Port Talbot refuse worker Richard gets his own lifelike action figure
This article is more than 6 months old
19 May 2023
A renowned Marvel Comics artist has created an action figure of Neath Port Talbot Council refuse worker Richard Brace as part of a campaign by public services union UNISON to raise awareness of the role councils play in providing vital everyday services.
Richard, 33, lives in Neath and has worked for the 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.
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. 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.”
Other action figures have been made of Birmingham City Council Assistant Library Manager Emma Bracken, of Rotherham Council Cchool Crossing Warden Sandy Cox and Denise King, who provides residential care for adults with disabilities in Bedfordshire.
The exclusive superhero figures have been created with advanced 3D printing technology in the exact likeness of specially chosen council workers from English and Welsh local authorities.
The collectibles, designed by Marvel artist Will Sliney, come complete with fully moveable limbs, dressed in their work outfits and feature accessories that mimic the real-life tools of their trade.
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 general secretary Christina McAnea 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 employees, demands are increasing while council budgets are squeezed. Turning them into action heroes is a great way to put the focus on their 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, social care and many more.
Scott Jones, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Streetscene, said: “I applaud what UNISON is doing – drawing attention to workers like Richard who are ‘unsung heroes’ working hard to provide essential services for our communities but who don’t always get recognised for their contribution.”