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Support worker on a fast track to Wales Care awards

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A YOUNG man who is carving out a high-flying career in social care is in the running for a top national award.

23-year-old Stefan Jenkins, who went to St John Lloyd Catholic School in Llanelli but now lives in Kidwelly, has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2018 Wales Care Awards, which aims to reward outstanding work in the care sector.

Stefan, who knew he wanted to work in social care from the age of 15 and was inspired by his nurse mum Rita Jenkins, now hopes his success at a young age will encourage more school leavers to consider a career in the care sector.

Since completing his Diploma in Health and Social Care at Coleg Sir Gar, Stefan has worked at Ty Hendy Care Home in Hendy, near Swansea, working with young adults aged 22-25 with autism and Asperger’s syndrome for the past four years.

“While my friends at school were looking at going into public service or engineering, I was the only boy on my social care course and I did feel a little bit different,” said Stefan.

“At first, I did have some mixed emotions about it, but I stuck with it and I am so grateful that I did as I now enjoy going into work every single day. It has boosted my confidence massively and it has enabled me to deal with so many different situations.

“I hope I show that young people can really succeed in the care sector and that it offers extremely rewarding career opportunities.”

Earlier this year, when he was just 22, Stefan was promoted to Team Leader and currently manages a team of 36 care and support workers.

He has now been nominated in the category for Excellence in Learning Disabilities Services sponsored by Home Instead Senior (Silver) and All Care South Wales.

On October 19 he will attend the glittering ceremony at Cardiff City Hall.

It is set to be an extra special event as it also marks the Wales Care Awards’ 15th anniversary, and the 25th anniversary of organisers, Care Forum Wales.

Stefan, who lives with his fiancée Jessica Griffin, was put forward by Ty Hendy manager Lorraine Jackson, who said that although one of the youngest on the Ty Hendy support team, Stefan thrives in making a difference every day.

“He ensures that the people we support are treated in a person-centred way and with respect and dignity. Stefan applies himself in a way that the people we support can relate to and enhances the quality of service we offer,” Lorraine added.

Stefan believes his age means he can relate to his clients, who all reside in Ty Hendy’s supported living flats, and helps him to support them to live their young lives as best they can.

“I like to get them out as much as possible and enjoying their lives as young people. I can relate to them as a young person and I try to look at different ways to keep them active and engaged, and so reducing any negative behaviours.”

Stefan has already helped to convert one other twenty-something to the care sector as his fiancée Jessica, 24, recently left her job as a manager in a fast food restaurant to also join the Ty Hendy care team.

“Jessica started working at Ty Hendy two months ago and she is absolutely loving it!”

With their wedding planned for next April, the couple are delighted by Stefan’s nomination and the boost it has given him.

“For my age to be nominated I think is absolutely brilliant, I am a young lad and I feel I have a great future in social care ahead. It is so rewarding and so if any young people are thinking about making it their career, I would definitely say go for it!”

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.

He said: “This year’s ceremony is an even more special occasion because it marks the 15th anniversary of the Wales Care Awards and the 25th anniversary of Care Forum Wales and the event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.

“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.

“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.

“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.

“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.”

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Victim speaks out about the impact knifepoint robbery

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Teifion Lewis: Robbed the man at knifepoint

THE VICTIM of a knifepoint robbery has spoken out about the impact the incident has had on his life as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in a national knife amnesty aiming to get weapons off the streets.

The 24-year-old was approached by a man he didn’t know while walking his dog in Carmarthen on July 20 this year. A knife was held to his chest, and he was forced to hand over the money in his wallet.

His attacker, Teifion Lewis, of Llammas Street, Carmarthen, was arrested and charged with robbery within four days, and was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Looking back at the incident, the victim, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “At first, I didn’t realise he had a knife on him. I just assumed he was another man who was out partying, given he was young and it was late on a Friday night.

“Even when he was right in front of me with his hand on my chest, I assumed he must have had too much to drink and just stumbled into me. Once I saw he was brandishing a knife, though, that changed everything. It was at that moment that I realised I was in far more danger than I’d first thought.

“I suppose the only real thing that was going through my mind at the time was to talk to him, do as he says, and get out of there as soon as possible without becoming hysterical. I just had to keep as calm as possible for the time he was blocking my route.”

He explained that it was only when Lewis had taken his money and walked away, that he realised what could have happened had things gone wrong.

“I thought about how easily he could have stabbed me and I’d have been left out in an empty street, cold and alone, bleeding to death, without even a mobile phone on me to call my friends and family to tell them I love them,” he said.

“I’ve never given much thought as to what my inevitable death will be like, but I’d never have thought it could have ended that way.”

The victim had walked his dog every night for two years – using this particular route for seven months – with no issue. Since being robbed, he has become wary of going out at night and hasn’t been able to walk down the lane where he was stopped without suffering flashbacks.

“It’s not necessarily the whole event that comes back to me, but different parts, such as when he started to sob to me about his home life, or when he apologised for ‘having to mug me’,” he said.

“By far, what’s stuck with me the most are the words said to me as I was being mugged. The words ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ have been repeating in my mind every day since then, without failure.”

On September 2, at Swansea Crown Court, Teifion Lewis was sentenced for robbery and possessing a knife in a public place. The victim read out a statement directly addressing Lewis, urging him to get his life back on track and forgiving him for what he did.

“You asked me that night to forget that the robbery had ever happened,” he read. “My assumption is because you were fearful as for what might subsequently happen to you. I’m afraid though, that the image of a knife being flicked towards my chest, and the phrase ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ is something I will never be able to erase from my mind, no matter how much I wish for it to go.

“I want you, however, to improve. I want you to use your punishment as your wake-up call, and as a doorway to improving both your future and the future of those who you are close to. There is help available for you, even in prison, and even when it seems all hope is lost. If I can get my life back on track after my autism diagnosis, so can you.

“You’re young, you’re able bodied, and you still have time. Use it wisely. I can’t forget what you did, but just this once I will forgive you.”

The victim has spoken out about his experience as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in Operation Sceptre – a national week of action aimed at cracking down on the illegal possession of knives. A knife amnesty is taking place during the week (Sept 18-24), with people able to bin their knives at specific locations across the force no questions asked.

The 24-year-old has backed the operation, and the chance to get knives out of our communities.

“I’d prefer it if these people who carry knives with them be honest about who they are and why they have them on their person,” he said. “But it’s much more important that it’s an opportunity to get these weapons off the street.

“If the ability to do this anonymously is what gives these people the confidence to rid themselves of their weapons, then so be it.”

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Jailed for spate of car fires

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AN ARSONIST hid behind a tree so he could watch cars and vans going up in flames.

Benn Gary Davies, aged 26, set fires at three locations in Llanelli and was jailed for three years after admitting three offences of arson.

Brian Simpson, prosecuting, told Swansea crown court how fires broke out in three different places in the early hours of July 6 this year.

They all involved cars and vans.

The duty manager at the Premier Inn, Llanelli, saw in horror that four vehicles in the car park were on fire.

When he went to investigate he noticed Davies hiding behind a tree and apparently watching the flames take hold.

In all, said Mr Simpson, Davies caused £25,000 worth of damage.

The court heard that Davies had a previous conviction for arson.

His barrister, James Hartson, said he had drunk an enormous quantity of alcohol.

Judge Peter Heywood told Davies, of Bynea, Llanelli, he had an underlying problem with alcohol.

“You have a bad record for damaging property and a conviction for arson.

“Arson is always viewed seriously by the courts.

“Cars can explode. Indeed, one of the vans concerned was used to transport calor gas,” he added.

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Sports photographer found after four months

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE have confirmed that a sports photographer has been found, having been missing for four months.

Gareth Davies, 45, was last seen on May 14 at Llanelli train station having visited family in the town.

Mr Davies was described as having professional links across the UK and France, and was living and working in Versailles, France at the time.

He was due to return there, but concerns were raised when he did not arrive.

Yet, last Friday (Sept 14) Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed that he was found in the UK safe and well.

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