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Fostering in Wales celebrated

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Mark Drakeford AM

Mark Drakeford AM

POLITICIANS, councillors and representatives from across the fostering sector will be joining the Minister for Health and Social Services Mark Drakeford AM, at a Senedd reception held by The Fostering Network to celebrate the role of foster care onFostering in Wales Day, Friday June 12.
The special day is part of the charity The Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight (June 1-14), and is an opportunity to highlight the fantastic work that thousands of foster families do across the country as well as raising awareness of fostering and the need for 550 more foster families across Wales this year.
The charity will also use the occasion to launch its Foster Carers’ Charter, which has been developed in partnership with ADSS Cymru and the WLGA and outlines the roles and commitments of both fostering services and their foster carers. Attendees will also hear from foster carers Will Howells and Bryn Miles about their experiences, and from health and social services minister Mark Drakeford AM who, as well as reiterating the need for more people to come forward as potential foster carers, will talk about the When I’m Ready scheme and the consultation on the regulations underpinning the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act.
Director of The Fostering Network Wales, Dr Emily Warren, said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate the role of foster care with the minister, AMs, councillors and many others from across the sector.
“Foster carers throughout Wales provide stable and secure homes for thousands of children in care each and every year, often giving these children their first real experience of positive family life. To make sure that fostering services can find the right home for each of these children, first time, another 550 more foster families are needed across Wales in the next year alone.
“For the thousands who are already foster carers, we know how important it is that they feel valued and supported by their fostering service, and that’s why we are using this year’s campaign as an opportunity to launch our Foster Carers’ Charter. This charter makes clear the responsibilities of, and expectations on, both fostering services and foster carers, as they work together to care for fostered children.
“The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. For over 40 years we have been bringing everyone involved in foster care together to make life better for fostered children. We promote and celebrate foster care, influence and create change and develop and share innovative approaches to fostering. That’s why I’m delighted that we are leading Confidence in Care, a consortium funded by the Big Lottery Fund which is delivering a five-year programme aiming to improve the life chances of looked after children across Wales.
“Thank you to all the foster families across Wales for the amazing work that you do. I know that this Foster Care Fortnight you will have inspired others to come forward and make a real difference for fostered children.”
Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said: “It’s an exciting time to be a foster carer or a fostering service provider in Wales as we implement our ambitious plans to transform social care. Foster Care Fortnight is a chance to celebrate our achievements and challenge us to find new ways of achieving better outcomes for looked-after children and their foster carers.
“I am particularly pleased that we are rolling out the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme, which will give young people the opportunity to continue living with their foster carers beyond the age of 18, until they are ready to move to more independent living.”
Phil Evans from the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru said: “Foster carers are at the heart of our fostering service; they provide placements for over two-thirds of all looked after children in Wales. We’re delighted that the Fostering Network has given us the opportunity to acknowledge and thank them again for all their remarkable dedication and commitment.
“It’s every child’s right to live within a safe, secure and stable family environment, to be able to grow, develop and reach their potential. Foster carers offer this opportunity to children of all ages, from new born babies through to young adults. Some look after children on a short-term basis while others provide long-term permanent care. Some provide placements for children with complex needs while others care for children who are part of their extended family.
“This is an essential service provided to children and society as a whole. We’re very mindful that there are c h a l l e n g e s f a c i n g f o s t e r i n g services now and in the longer-term. The new Charter has an important role to play in providing us all with a clear statement about what foster carers need and deserve and what has to improve. ADSS Cymru looks forward to working with The Fostering Network, BAAF Cymru, Welsh Government and other partners to make this vision an everyday reality for all foster carers.”
Cllr Mel Nott OBE (Bridgend), WLGA spokesperson for social services said: “Fostering makes a huge difference to the lives of children by offering them the stable and secure home that they need to flourish. Raising awareness through events like Foster Care Fortnight plays a crucial role and we hope it encourages more people to come forward and help give a child a positive and settled family life. Local government, through initiatives like the Foster Carers’ Charter, remains committed to achieving the highest possible standards both for those children who are in need of a foster family, and also for foster families themselves.”

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Third annual Burry Port Raft Race is eagerly awaited

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THE THIRD ANNUAL BURRY PORT RAFT RACE, organised by Burry Port couple, Craig and Isabel Goodman, will be held on Saturday (July 27).

The event which is held in Burry Port Harbour, raises much needed funds for both Burry Port RNLI and a children’s football academy and primary school the couple support in The Gambia.

The day launches at 12pm with stands, food stalls and children’s inflatable games and rides and these will be available until 5pm. You’ll also have a chance to meet the crews, who’ll be busy putting the final touches to their rafts.

Rafts launch at 3pm, followed by a presentation ceremony, including prizes for first raft over the line, first raft to sink and best dressed raft.

Craig said: ” A huge thank you goes to all our sponsors, including overall sponsor Dawsons, along with continued sponsorship from Celtic Couriers, Parker Plant Hire, Burns Pet Nutrition, Burry Port Co-Op, Llanelli Star, LBS Builders Merchants, Burry Port Marina, First Choice Flooring and Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council.

For any further information about the event, please contact 07825 842981.

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The tale of the WW2 Luftwaffe pilot who mistakenly landed in west Wales

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IT WAS this time of year, 1942, that a bizarre series of events led to a German fighter pilot landing at RAF Pembrey in South Wales, unintentionally aiding the war effort of The Allied Forces in the process.

On June 23, 1942, Oberleautnant Armin Fabar was ordered to a fly a combat mission along with his squadron, in response to an Allied bombing raid of northern France.

Armin Faber mistakenly flew to South Wales after the dog-fight

Fabar’s squadron (the 7th Staffel) all flew Focke-Wulf 190 fighter planes. These planes were seen as superior to the then current Spitfires of the Allied Forces, and in the subsequent dog-fight that developed over The English Channel seven Spitfires were shot down, compared to only two Focke-Wulf 190s (FW-190s).

One Czechoslovakian Spitfire pilot, Alois Vašátko, dramatically lost his life when, in the fray of combat, he collided head-on with an FW-190. The German pilot bailed out and was later captured by Allied Forces.

Spitfire pilot Alois Vašátko lost his life in the battle

In the ensuing battle, Faber became disorientated and was separated from his squadron. He was attacked by a Spitfire manned by Seargent František Trejtnar. In a desperate attempt to shake off his pursuer, Faber fled North over the skies of Devon. He pulled off a brilliant ‘Immelman Turn’, a move in which the sun is used to dazzle a pursuer on your tail. Now flying directly from Trejtnar’s view of the sun, Faber shot him down.

Trejtnar crashed near the village of Black Dog, Devon suffering shrapnel wounds and a broken arm.

The victorious Faber had another problem entirely, though he was unaware of it at the time. He had mistaken The Bristol Channel for The English Channel, and flew north into south Wales, thinking it was northern France!

Finding the nearest airfield – RAF Pembrey, in Carmarthernshire, Faber prepared to land. Observers on the ground ‘could not believe their eyes’ as Faber waggled his wings in a victory celebration, lowered the Focke-Wulf’s undercarriage and landed.

Faber expected to be greeted with open arms by his German brothers, but was instead greeted by Pembrey Duty Pilot, Sgt Matthews, pointing a flare gun at his face (he had no other weapon to hand).

As the gravity of the mistake slowly dawned on him, the stricken Faber was ‘so despondent that he attempted suicide’ unsuccessfully.

Faber was later driven to RAF Fairwood Common for interrogation under the escort of Group Captain David Atcherley. Atcherley, fearful of an escape attempt, aimed his revolver at Faber for the entire journey. At one point the car hit a pothole, causing the weapon to fire; the shot only narrowly missing Faber’s head!

Fabers mistaken landing in Wales was a gift for The Allied Forces, a disaster for The Third Reich.

He had inadvertently presented the RAF with one of the greatest prizes of the entire war – an intact example of the formidable Focke-Wulf 190 fighter plane, an aircraft the British had learned to fear and dread ever since it made its combat debut the previous year.

Over the following months Faber’s plane was examined in minute detail, the allies desperately looking for any weakness in the FW-190. There were few to be found.

They did find one, however.

The FW-190s became relatively sluggish at higher altitudes. This knowledge aided the Allied Forces and saved countless lives, as the aerial battles turned increasingly in their favour.

Faber was taken as a prisoner of war, eventually being sent to a POW camp in Canada. Towards the end of the war he was sent home to Germany due to his ill health.

49 years later Faber would visit the Shoreham Aircraft Museum, where parts of his FW-190 are displayed to this day, along with parts of the Spitfire that he shot down in the skies over Devon. He presented the Museum with his officer’s dagger and pilot’s badge.

This little-known but important piece of Carmarthenshire history illustrates not only the high-stakes arms race between The Third Reich and The Allied Forces during WW2, but also the cost of human error.

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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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