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Thousands of meals donated by Llanelli Tesco shoppers

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THOUSANDS of meals have been donated to food banks and groups feeding people in the local community thanks to the generosity of Tesco shoppers in Llanelli, figures released today reveal.

Shoppers in Llanelli donated 4,928 meals as part of the overall total of 2.5 million meals donated to charities the Trussell Trust and FareShare by shoppers during last month’s Tesco Food Collection, with Tesco topping up the value of all the donations by an additional 20%.

The donations to food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network are being used to provide food parcels for people in crisis, while donations to FareShare go to charities and community groups such as homeless shelters and older people’s lunch clubs who also receive surplus food from Tesco stores.

One of the groups benefitting from the generous donations in Wales is Oasis Cardiff. Its manager Richard Eynon said the donations are essential to their work.

“We’re extremely grateful for the food donations we receive from Tesco through the Food Collection scheme. We operate a monthly supper club, incorporating a different dish from around the world inspired by the group’s diversity, allowing us to introduce new foods to our clients. All of this has been made possible thanks to the donations from Tesco.

“The centre is a lifeline for our clients, especially over Christmas, and we’re proud to have the opportunity to support them in their time of need. Some have just arrived in Cardiff, whereas others have been here for a few years, and visit Oasis to socialise with the many friends they have made here.”

One of the groups supplied by Trussell Trust in Wales is the Taff Ely Foodbank. It has eight distribution centres across Pontyclun, Pontypridd, Tonyrefail, Llanharan, Gilfach Goch and Talbot Green. Its team of 50 volunteers provided 3.3 tonnes of food to people across Rhondda Cynon Taff last year.

The donations help the foodbank team make nutritionally balanced food parcels which is supplied to people who have been referred by a local agency.

Adrian Curtis, Trustee at Taff-Ely Foodbank, said: “The donations from Tesco help members of the community across Rhondda Cynon Taff enormously. Having distributed over three tonnes of food in the last year, this was a 46% increase compared to the previous year, highlighting just how much need there is in the area.

“For those in crisis, and especially as finances pinch around Christmas time, the food bank is a lifeline. The emergency food takes the pressure away from families enabling agencies to address and remedy the issues that are causing the crisis.”

The donations from the three-day collection are in addition to items donated by customers throughout the year at a network of more than 500 permanent collection points at Tesco stores. In the year to October more than 7 million meals were donated to food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network at those in-store collection points.

Tesco Director Christine Heffernan thanked customers for their donations. “On my visits to stores during the Collection I was taken aback by the generosity of our customers,” she said. “I would like to thank all those who donated and we will be doing our bit by topping up all the donations by 20%.”

The Trussell Trust’s Chief Executive Emma Revie also thanked customers. “Food banks up and down the country could not do what they do without the incredible support of the public and their loyal volunteers who work tirelessly to help people when they need support the most,” she said. “An emergency food parcel, listening ear and compassionate, practical advice at the food bank can make a real difference when someone is facing a crisis. Any donations help make that difference.”

Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive at FareShare, added: “We are hugely grateful to every single person who volunteered and donated items during this year’s Tesco Food Collection – it was wonderful to see so many passionate people lending a hand to support us. All items donated by Tesco customers will be redistributed by FareShare to charities and community organisations and will help to ensure more people get a hot, nutritious meal.”

The Tesco Food Collection ran in all Tesco stores in the UK from November 21 to 23.

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Education Minister announces ‘back to school’ plans for September

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Decision backed with £29 million to recruit, recover and raise standards

The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has today confirmed that all pupils will be able to return to school in September.

“plan to open in September with 100% of pupils physically present on school sites, subject to a continuing, steady decline in the presence of COVID-19 in the community.”

The Minister announced that:
 Schools will return to full capacity, with only limited social distancing within contact groups.
 At full operations, a contact group should consist of around 30 children.
Some direct or indirect mixing between children in different contact groups will also be unavoidable, such as on transport, receiving specialist teaching or due to staffing constraints.
 Social distancing for adults should remain in line with regulations and
guidance.
 Schools will be required to minimise the risk of transmission by taking other mitigating measures using the hierarchy of risk controls.
 Every school should continue to be “Covid Protected” – having carried out
risk assessments and mitigated them with a combination of controls such
as hand and surface hygiene, one-way systems and so forth.
 If early warning information shows a local incident or outbreak then nearby schools should implement appropriate restriction measures.
 Each school will be provided with a supply of home testing kits.
The Minister confirmed that the autumn term will start on 1 st  September and schools that can accommodate all pupils from the start of the term should do so.

The Minister outlined plans just hours after confirming the Welsh Government would make £29m available to ‘recruit, recover and raise standards’ in Welsh schools in response to the impact still felt from the pandemic.

Commenting on the additional funding announced, the Minister added: “We will recruit, recover and continue to raise standards.”

It is thought that there will be around 800 newly qualified teachers in September and around 800 supply staff currently working within Wales.

“With this funding, we will recruit the equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants throughout the next school year.

“We will target extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages.

“The support package, provided at a school level, could include extra coaching support, personalised learning programmes and additional time and resources for exam year pupils.

“We must never lower our expectations for any of our young people, no matter their background.

“Together, we will continue to raise standards for all, reduce the attainment gap and ensure we have a system that is a source of pride and public confidence.”

Councillor Ian Roberts, WLGA Spokesperson for Education, said: “Since schools closed at the start of the crisis, many children and young people have felt anxious about loss of learning and not being able to see their friends.

The Minister’s plan today will enable schools to safely reopen classrooms from September. Local authorities will work closely with their schools to make sure that necessary arrangements are in place to abide by Welsh Government guidance.

“Our schools have been hit by severe disruption during this pandemic, and we welcome the £29m pledged by the Minister for targeted support to minimise the effects of the past few months on pupils. We will continue to work together in partnership the safest and best possible learning experiences for our children and young people, especially in such challenging circumstances.”

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Police urge visitors to stay safe and respect Wales as travel ban is lifted

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POLICE are urging visitors to say safe and respect Wales as they get set to welcome visitors this weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police has issued a message to people preparing to travel to mid and west Wales after the requirement to stay local was lifted on Monday (Jul 6), asking them to be safe, sensible and respectful.

With people now able to travel around Wales and to cross the border into the country, coupled with a fine weather forecast, police are expecting visitors to arrive in droves to enjoy the Dyfed-Powys area.

Temporary Chief Inspector Andy Reed said: “We are very lucky to police beautiful areas across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys, which attract thousands of visitors every week over the summer months.

“With restrictions having been in place since March, we understand that people are now keen to venture further afield and enjoy the beaches, mountains and countryside they’ve missed, and are anticipating a busy weekend ahead.

“Our officers look forward to welcoming you, and will be here if you need any help, but we ask that you help us by being respectful of the areas you visit, and by planning your journey before you set off.”

For anyone travelling to areas they are not familiar with, police are recommending that they plan their route in advance, check traffic updates regularly online and by listening to local radio stations, and be prepared to turn around or reroute if necessary.

T/CI Reed said: “Many of the areas that are popular with tourists aren’t served by main roads, but by B roads that can become backlogged very quickly.

“Nobody wants to spend hours stuck in traffic when they could be enjoying a day out, and there are ways to avoid this.

“If you’re heading to the beach in Pembrokeshire, for example, don’t set your sights on one place. Make a list of beaches you could visit, and be prepared to change your plans if you hit traffic off the main road.

“If you’re planning a hike in the Brecon Beacons, take a look at a few different walking routes – there are plenty of options besides Pen y Fan, which frequently gets overrun on sunny weekends and can cause problems on the roads with high volumes of traffic and parked cars.”

Over the past three months, Dyfed-Powys Police has implemented Operation Dovecote – an engagement, encouragement, education and enforcement approach to ensuring people adhered to the restrictions. With the ease in regulations, officers across the force will take a different approach this weekend – engaging with visitors, clamping down on antisocial behaviour and working with partner agencies to ensure places are left as they were found.

T/CI said: “Our officers will be out and about across the force, making sure everyone is staying safe and respectful. With that in mind, we ask that you be mindful of people who live in the areas you are visiting by acting responsibly – we will not tolerate antisocial or illegal behaviour that will impact on them or other tourists.

“Please park considerately, leave gates and property as you find them, be careful with barbecues and don’t light fires, keep dogs under control, and check what facilities will be open before you start your journey.

“We will be working closely with partners to protect beaches, countryside and waterways – you can help us by making sure you take all your rubbish and belongings with you, and leaving no trace of your visit.”

If you need to report an incident while visiting the Dyfed-Powys area, you can use one of the following options: Online: bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, Email: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk or Call 101.

If you are Deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Always call 999 in an emergency

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YMCA Llanelli charity shop will reopen to the community on Friday 10 July

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AFTER more than 14 weeks of being closed for business, YMCA Llanelli will be throwing open its doors and welcoming back much-loved customers, donors and staff on Friday 10 July.

YMCA Llanelli is one of 10 shops due to reopen over the next week as part of YMCA England and Wales’ second phase, which aims to restore more than 80 shops to their local communities by the end of the month.  

Across all of its reopened stores, YMCA will be adhering to government guidelines with additional cleaning and social distancing measures, alongside hand gel stations at each entrance to ensure a safe environment for customers and colleagues.  

Once doors are officially open donations to YMCA Llanelli are very welcome, and if donors have any questions or concerns before dropping items off, please feel free to call ahead. 

One challenge that the current crisis has created is that YMCA has fewer volunteers than before, so alongside donations staff are also appealing for volunteers to help them get back up and running. Without the dedication of hundreds of volunteers YMCA charity shops wouldn’t be possible, and so YMCA Llanelli is calling on anyone locally who may be able to help.  

Simon Green, Head of Retail at YMCA England & Wales said: “The retail team have been working extremely hard to reopen stores in a way which keeps customers, staff and the community safe, and we can’t wait to welcome everyone back for the first time since 23 March.

“It truly is a privilege to serve at the heart of communities, providing not only the chance for customers to find bargains and recycle goods, but also to gain employment experience and create new friendships. We have missed you and we are delighted to be back.”  

Money raised at YMCA charity shops across England and Wales is used to help transform the lives of young people across almost 740 local communities. From providing a warm bed for homeless young people to delivering mental health advice and counselling for those in need. Every donation or hour volunteered makes a huge difference.

To find your local YMCA shop, enquire about donations or find out about volunteering opportunities, please visit: https://www.ymca.org.uk/shops or call 0207 186 9585.

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