Will Hayward


I don’t believe you can write a truly good feature about a place unless you really understand it. Unless you truly immerse yourself in something, how can you possibly reflect its realities to your readers?

That is why when I saw that the Riverside area of Cardiff was found to have the highest levels of child poverty I spent six weeks in that community. Speaking to 100+ people from dozens of countries. Sitting in cafes, supermarkets, parks, food banks and religious centres simply to listen and understand. There was little trust in the area when I started this piece - perhaps understandably. Journalists have dropped in and out in the past. The people here are overlooked by the wealthiest parts of Wales and yet have been left behind by the Welsh capital developments. That is why I spent so long building trust and listening. The aim wasn’t to write the story I wanted to tell, but to write the story the community wanted told. It doesn’t shy away from the massive problems the area faces. But it dealt with them with compassion, it reflected there were human beings behind these figures. As such, the piece was embraced by the Riverside community. It also made real change in the city, since its publication there has been a renewed effort from the council and other service providers to give Riverside the support it deserves. No one has ever gained this level of access into this most iconic of Cardiff communities, no one has even attempted it, and this piece gave them a voice they feel they’ve never had. My piece on the Covid families who had lost loved ones was a groundbreaking piece which was read all across Wales and beyond while continuing to shape the debate in Welsh politics on the form that the review into Covid should take. It was built on the investigative journalism I had previously done to expose the numbers of unnecessary deaths caused by political failings in Wales. But this piece was the one that cut through. You can write all you like about death figures, but people don’t respond to numbers, they respond to people. That is why this piece had such an impact. The stories contained within it were harrowing, yet sadly familiar to so many people during the pandemic. It is hard to underestimate the impact this article had in Wales. It is still raised in the Senedd when discussing the failings during the pandemic. It is hard to get people who are grieving to trust and open up. But I did so with compassion and warmth and that is why this piece is so strong. The piece “The 29 things a Covid inquiry...” was so vital in producing real scrutiny of the Welsh Government. It is essentially 29 individual pieces of investigative journalism and analysis rolled into one story. It is vital journalism that contradicts the lazy and prevailing narrative that the devolved administrations had been faultless in the handling of Covid.