CHANGES to the way free swimming is allocated across Carmarthenshire and Wales comes into force next month following a reduction in funding from the Welsh Government.
Cuts in the overall budget will affect the number of free sessions available at council-owned leisure centres across Wales including Llanelli, Ammanford, Carmarthen, Newcastle Emlyn and Llandovery Pool.
Carmarthenshire County Council is currently reviewing its timetables, along with Sport Wales which distribute the funding on behalf of the Welsh Government.
There still will be free sessions for young people every weekend with additional ones in the summer holidays. Pools will also be offering some free and possibly subsidised sessions for over 60s.
According to Sport Wales, young people and people over the age of 60 from areas of deprivation will be the priority under new national objectives.
Questioned about the cut in the Senedd by Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “When the scheme was first introduced in 2004-05, over 800,000 swims took place by young people under the scheme. Last year, it had fallen to 126,000. And yet the number of swims by young people has gone up in Wales over that period. So, the idea that, by removing the scheme as it currently stands, it automatically leads to the unintended, and, as I see it, not to be realised consequences, doesn’t stand up to examination. More people under the age of 16 are swimming in Wales than ever before, and yet fewer and fewer and fewer of them were taking advantage of the free-swimming initiative.
“The money that is not being devoted by the sports council of Wales to this scheme is being spent by them instead of a series of healthy and active fund projects.
The revised free swimming initiative aims to attract people who face the most barriers in accessing a pool the chance to learn a life skill and to swim more frequently.”
The changes follow an independent review, commissioned by the Welsh Government after findings showed the current scheme was no longer fit for purpose. The report concluded that the current approach was not cost-effective, nor did it make the biggest contribution to increasing levels of activity. It noted that the number of young people benefiting from the scheme had been in significant decline since 2013-14.
The report also mentioned that only 6% of the target population of over 60s age group currently access the programme.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s executive board member for leisure, tourism and culture, Cllr Peter Hughes-Griffiths said: “These nationwide changes are disappointing, however, we recognise the benefits that swimming can play as part of a healthy lifestyle and remain committed to providing free swim sessions. As a county, we are still delivering more swimming sessions than what is required nationally.”
Lottery win for local neighbours
Two people in Ferryside are celebrating today after winning £1,000 each thanks to their lucky postcode.
The neighbours netted the windfall when SA17 5YP was announced as a Daily Prize winner with People’s Postcode Lottery on Wednesday 8th April 2020.
People’s Postcode Lottery ambassador Judie McCourt sent her well-wishes to the winners. She said: “Congratulations to our winners! What a great surprise for them, I hope they enjoy their winnings.”
A minimum of 32% of ticket sales goes directly to charities and players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised over £500 million to date for thousands of good causes in Britain and beyond.
This draw was promoted by Maggie’s which has received over £16.1 million in funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Maggie’s runs a network of cancer support centres across the country. These centres bring people together to help combat the isolation and distress that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis.
Many good causes close to the winners have also benefitted from players’ support, and local charities can next apply for funding in August.
Scarlets’ grassroots clubs show community spirit in delivering vital food packages
Scarlets community clubs have been working together to help deliver vital food packages across the region.
Volunteers from grassroots clubs and WRU girls hubs across Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire have been helping take the food packages to vulnerable members of society who are self-isolating during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The clubs have teamed up with the Scarlets Community Foundation — the charity arm of the Scarlets — and Carmarthen-based food wholesaler Castell Howell, while Scarlets players Osian Knott, Kieran Hardy, Ryan Conbeer and Jac Morgan have also lent their hand to the operation.
More than 300 packages were due to be delivered on Monday and Tuesday (April 6 & April 7), with the initiative highlighting that even without any action on the field, rugby clubs remain at the heart of their community.
Scarlets Community Foundation manager Caroline Newman said: “We have been overwhelmed with the support that we have received from local clubs, the number of people prepared to volunteer to help the most vulnerable in our communities has been touching.
“People’s reasons for requesting packs have often been heart-wrenching and it really has made us appreciate what we have.
“The foundation has worked closely with Castell Howell to make sure the packages are ready to go to those whose need is greatest, managing to turn things around pretty quickly and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in making this happen, our funder, Castell Howell, all the clubs, our helpline volunteer and the foundation members.
“Great teamwork which has made me proud to be part of the fantastic community that rugby creates.”
Here are the rugby clubs and WRU girls rugby hubs taking part in the initiative
Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Amman Utd, Ammanford, Burry Port, Betws, Bynea, Cardigan, Cefneithin, Felinfoel, Fishguard & Goodwick, Furnace Utd, Haverfordwest, Kidwelly, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llandybie, Llanelli Wanderers, Llangennech, Llangwm, Merched Mynydd Mawr, Milford Haven, Narberth, New Dock Stars, Newcastle Emlyn, Neyland, Penybanc, Pontyates, St Clears, Stradey Sospans, Tenby Utd, Tumble, Tycroes, Whitland, Yr Hendy.
First two cases of coronavirus in Carmarthenshire confirmed
THE FIRST two cases of coronavirus have been found in Carmarthenshire, the Welsh Government announced today.
The two patients in the Carmarthenshire local authority area had recently returned together from northern Italy.
It comes as the Hywel Dda Health Board which serves the area opened two centres to test for coronavirus, one in Cardigan and one in Carmarthen.
The health board announced it had opened the testing centres to “help protect the health of our communities”, while also saying that centres could be opened in other areas across the health board.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, confirmed that a total of nine patients in Wales had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID -19) today, bringing the total to 15.