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Skills winners celebrate with Deputy Minister

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PEMBROKESHIRE learners have been rewarded for their successes at two major skills competitions, in an event celebrating talent across Wales.

Winners gathered at St David’s Hotel and Spa in Cardiff Bay to be honoured for their achievements at Skills Competition Wales and The Skills Show.

The event saw Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James, hand out medals to 39 students, trainees, apprentices and employees who all won at competitions in 2014.

Pembrokeshire College students and graduates Annalea Lawrence, 39, from Pembroke; Luke Lawrence, 20, and Nicola Ashby, 32, from Pembroke Dock; Gabriella Coates, 19, from Tenby, and Marie Crayford, 44, from Saundersfoot, each took medals after triumphing in their chosen skill sector.

The Deputy Minister said: “This event is about celebrating the successes of our Welsh winners at Skills Competition Wales and The Skills Show, a group of people who will now act as role models to young people in Wales.

“These competitions help drive up standards in vocational skills and help us showcase the talent we have in Wales all over the world.

“We’re showing that we have talented students, trainees, apprentices and employees and we have forward-thinking training companies, colleges and employers.

“These competition winners are a testament to what can be achieved through dogged determination as well as skill.”

During Skills Competition Wales, the country’s most talented learners battled it out in competitions ranging from reflexology to web development to be named the ‘best in Wales’ in their chosen skill.

Initially, entrants competed against colleagues within their college and the best were then entered to compete at a national level, as part of heats organised within colleges across Wales by Skills Competition Wales (SCW).

In addition, The Skills Show, at the NEC in Birmingham then saw over 600 participants from across the UK take part in more than 60 competitions to be named the ‘best in the UK’.

Annalea and Nicola were awarded bronze and silver medals respectively in the reflexology category at Skills Competition Wales; Marie in aromatherapy, while Gabriella took gold in beauty therapy. Luke Lawrence was highly commended in the welding category at The Skills Show.

Gabriella said: “The Skills Show experience has been absolutely amazing.

“It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done but I learned so much from it and the end result was definitely worth it. I’d recommend it to any learner.”

Backed by the Welsh Government, through the European Social Fund, Skills Competition Wales promotes the importance of developing a highly-skilled workforce, aiming to boost high level skills in Wales.

Barry Liles, WorldSkills Wales Champion and principal at Coleg Sir Gâr, who hosted the event, said:

“Taking part in skills competitions increases employability, employee skills, employer competitiveness, business growth and ultimately improves the economy of Wales.”

“The amount of passion and concentration shown at these events, the results of months and years of hard work, is always fantastic to see and every person involved should be hugely proud of what they have achieved.

“I’m extremely proud to be a part of such an inspiring scheme that has gone from strength to strength over the past four years.”

To register your interest for the next cycle of WorldSkills UK Competitions, visit www.worldskillsuk.org

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Community

NSPCC: Wales conference puts spotlight on domestic abuse

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PROTECTING women and children from domestic abuse was the focus of a ground-breaking conference in Wales this week (Mar 28).

Organised by Cardiff University’s Exchange Network – with support from NSPCC Cymru / Wales and Welsh Women’s Aid – the event aimed to share information on the most effective approaches to tackle all forms of violence against women, domestic abuse and support for victims – be they adults or children.

Preventing violence from happening and protecting those who fall victim to domestic abuse formed the focus of the conference, at Cardiff’s Novotel Hotel.

Representatives from Welsh Government, Relate Cymru, Barnardos and Rape and Sexual Abuse (RASA) Centre also attended.

Domestic abuse continues to be a significant reason for young people to contact Childline. In 2016/17 volunteers at the NSPCC-run helpline undertook 120 counselling sessions with children from Wales who had concerns about abuse by a partner in their own relationship.

And 241 children from Wales contacted Childline to discuss parental domestic abuse.

Some young people who witness this also experience physical abuse by their parents. This can sometimes happen when they try and intervene in the abuse taking place, with some children telling Childline they were hit by their mother or father when trying to stop a fight.

“Sometimes my dad gets in a bad mood and gets really aggressive. He says horrible things to me and my mum and it scares me. In the past he was threatening to hit my mum, when I tried to get him to calm down he slapped me instead. I feel like neither of them listen to me and they don’t understand how upset it’s all making me.” (Girl, 16-18, Wales)

Head of NSPCC Cymru / Wales, Des Mannion, told The Llanelli Herald: “Domestic abuse can have a huge impact on a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing and it’s hugely important that we share information and discuss ways to both prevent violence and protect victims.

“We all have a part to play in tackling domestic abuse and it’s important to pick up the phone if you’re concerned so that our advisers can offer guidance and get help where it’s needed.

“Stepping in early helps to change behaviours and avoid abuse escalating, and putting the child at the heart of interventions is paramount in keeping children safe and limiting long-term damage.

“It is also vital that children and young people affected by domestic abuse have access to the right kind of support to overcome the trauma of witnessing and experiencing domestic abuse.”

Any child worried about domestic abuse can call Childline on 0800 11 11. Any adult who is concerned about a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.

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Pop-up craft stalls return to St Elli

Tamsin Mathias

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Photo credit: www.stelli.co.uk/about-us/

LLANELLI’S St Elli Shopping Centre is once again playing host to a fantastic group of pop-up craft stalls today and tomorrow (Mar 1-2).

Following on from a highly successful outing just before Christmas, the ‘Pert A Blasus Pop-Up Emporium’ will see a variety of crafters take to the Atrium to sell their handmade crafts.

A group of friends who met whilst running stalls at craft markets around South Wales, Pert A Blasus brings together a host of skill sets and backgrounds – including a former kitchen fitter and scaffolder, a former clerical assistant, and a primary school teacher.

Primary school teacher Jill Davies has been crafting most of her life as a hobby; however, seven years ago decided to launch ‘Dzines by Jill’, which sees her hand-decorate plain pieces of ceramic and household items with her own unique designs.

Jill also organises her own ‘Made it Markets’ in Neath.

Also on board with Pert A Blasus is Steve Kennedy, who is the brainchild of ‘Cut n Scroll’, where he hand cuts items from wood and enlists the help of his wife Tanya for painting and gemming; Wendy Taylor, also a primary school teacher, who completed a precious metal course at Gower College and now makes her own items for her ‘Simplicity by Silver’ stall; and Jill James who runs her ‘Pretty Cute Fairies’ stall.

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Community

Bread and Jam for Christmas

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A young woman with Spina bifida has been left alone in an empty home with nothing but bread and jam to eat and with no cooking facilities. Jackie lives a stone’s throw from Llanelli Town Hall and yet she claims she has been abandoned by the County Council, her AM, her MP and Social Services. She faces a wait until January 10 before service providers meet to discuss her case.

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