SAMARITANS volunteers and Prison Listeners at Swansea prison got the chance to meet the Princess Royal last week as part of the 25th anniversary of the Listener scheme, which was founded in the prison 1991.
A plaque in the prison’s visitor centre was unveiled by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne who said the Listener scheme should be celebrated and praised as it helps prisoners develop vital skills, as well as providing support for each other.
The Princess Royal met two Listeners, who support their fellow prisoners at Swansea prison, and were trained by local Samaritans volunteers. The Princess also met six Samaritan volunteers from the Swansea branch.
One of the founding members of the Listener scheme, Joyce Cole, who is a volunteer and former director of Samaritans’ branch at Swansea.
“We are delighted that the Princess was able to meet Listeners and Samaritans volunteers in the 25th anniversary year of the Prison Listener scheme,” said Executive Director for Wales, Sarah Stone. “Prisoners in the UK and the Republic of Ireland are at between five and ten times greater risk of risk of suicide, and the scheme was set up to train them to provide support for each other.
“Samaritans volunteers in our branches are committed to making sure the Listener scheme is able to provide its life-saving work in prisons.”
HMP Swansea’s Acting Governing Governor, Mitch Albutt, said: “We were honoured to welcome the Princess Royal to help us celebrate 25 years of the Listener Scheme.
This was developed at Swansea Prison and has undoubtedly saved lives, which has proved so successful, that it now operates in most establishments. It was also ground breaking that for the first time, the men were trained as peer supporters.”
The Samaritans Prisoner Listener scheme operates in almost all prisons throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland and follows the same principles and practices as Samaritans volunteers. It was set up after there was a rise in prison suicides, and after the death of a 15 year-old prisoner at Swansea.
The Listeners follow the same principles and practices as Samaritans volunteers and are supported by the 201 Samaritans branches across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
Prisoners are between five and ten times more likely to die by suicide than the general population so the Listeners provide somewhere to go for prisoners who have problems.
In 2014, 1,500 trained Listeners answered more than 86,000 requests for support from the prison population, which totalled just under 85,000 in 2015.
You don’t have to be suicidal to call the Samaritans. Whatever you’re going through, call them free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.
Read this and more in this week’s edition of The Llanelli Herald.
Strictly Cymru brings dancing a-plenty to 2020
Disabled people from all over Wales have waltzed into 2020 for Strictly Cymru – the country’s renowned inclusive dance competition.
Run by charity Leonard Cheshire, in partnership with the national governing body Paradance UK, the competition has seen dancers in both inclusive and wheelchair-specific categories compete in six heats across South Wales, in preparation for the grand final on 6 June. Strictly Cymru is now in its third year.
Winning in the inclusive categories at the Carmarthen heat on 17 January were Coleg Sir Gar students Kieron, Toby, Thomas, and Max, as well as Richard, who came independently from Coleshill Day Centre in Llanelli and wowed the judges with his Michael Jackson inspired fast feet and moonwalk. A few days later, Rebecca, Chloe, and Anesha from Heronsbridge School lifted the trophy at the Bridgend heat on 21 January.
Gower College students Daniel and Carys wowed the judges with their synchronised dancing at the Cardiff heat, while Coleg Gwent student Matthew secured a place on the final in the inclusive heat held in Newport last week.
Meanwhile, in the wheelchair dance category, dancers Chad and Ben took gold in Carmarthen and Bridgend respectively. The Carmarthen heat rang with the sound of Chad’s catchphrase of “Absolutely fantastic!”
Then, the fifth heat in Cardiff saw the youngest person to take part in Strictly to date, five-year-old Inga, win in the wheelchair category, before Robin John won the final wheelchair heat in Newport after being inspired by his partner Dianne, who was highly commended in last year’s competition grand final.
Dance instructors from Paradance UK also took the participants, who came from schools the community and Leonard Cheshire services in the area, through their paces ahead of each dance-off to give everyone the best chance at reaching the final.
Chad said: “It has been a really great two days and I’ve enjoyed getting to know new people and learn tango. I’m looking forward to the final.”
Robin John, winning at Newport, said: “It’s absolutely wonderful, I’ve tried before and lost, but it feels on a whole different planet to win a heat! I’m looking forward to the final and don’t mind which genre of dance I get, I can adapt to most things.”
Ruth Jones, MP for Newport West, was a judge at the heat there. Ruth said: “I wasn’t sure what to expect beforehand, but it was amazing. As you walked into the room the enthusiasm hit you like a wave. It was so hard to choose a winner because they were all brilliant in their own way, everybody did the maximum they could possibly do.”
Alan Dear, Head of Theatre and Arts at Newport Live, helped support the Newport heat and said: “It is the most joyful thing I have done in years.”
The heats were open to people of all ages and abilities and the overall winners of the competition will be crowned in the Ffwrnes theatre in Llanelli on 6 June 2020. There they will receive the coveted Strictly glitter ball trophy.
New Body Cameras for Transport for Wales Staff
Last year alone, saw over 350 reported accounts of physical or verbal abuse against staff on trains in Wales and whilst this is a small number in terms of the overall passenger journeys, TfW are keen to further reduce this number as any incident should not be tolerated.
Antisocial figures in Wales show an improving trend in comparison with the rest of the UK and TfW has previously committed to providing CCTV at every station across the Wales and Borders network and already introduced additional security staff.
This trial is another step forward in reducing this type of behaviour and is being delivered in partnership with the British Transport Police.
The trial will include four different type of cameras, and after a review period, one company will be selected to supplying 300 across the network.
Ken Skates, Welsh Government Transport and North Wales Minister, said:
“Everyone has the right to work or travel on our network without the fear of abuse or threats. The rail staff there to help us are no different to our family and friends. They are working hard to get us from A to B, often in difficult circumstances.
“We must stamp out anti-social behaviour and do everything we can to support staff to do their jobs and let passengers make their journeys in a safe and pleasant environment.”
Daniel Hopkin, a frequent rail passenger on the Neath to Cardiff line added:
“It’s great that Transport for Wales are fitting their staff with cameras. I regularly travel between Neath and Cardiff on the train and I think that any improvements in safety will benefit customers.
“The railway station can be really hectic and the fact that staff will have body cameras should act as a deterrent to some of the occasional bad behaviour. Transport for Wales seem to be considering different ways to improve things for the customer and I find that encouraging as a passenger.”
Marc Clancy, Transport for Wales Conductor said:
“We have to deal with a range of people daily and most of our customers are grateful and polite. We work extremely hard to give our customers the best possible experience when using our services, however at times staff and passengers do experience occasional antisocial behaviour and abuse.
“The introduction of these cameras should act as a deterrent to antisocial behaviour, support assault prosecutions and boost public confidence in safety.
“They will provide our front-line staff with more confidence when dealing with difficult situations and abusive customers.”
BTP Superintendent Andrew Morgan, said:
“The safety of passengers and our rail industry colleagues is our absolute priority and we do everything we can to protect them.
“We fully support the introduction of body worn cameras for Transport for Wales’ frontline staff – we know from experience that body worn video is a fantastic piece of kit that helps us in securing convictions against those who target staff with unnecessary violence or abuse.
“We hope the introduction will deter anti-social behaviour and provide reassurance to rail staff as well as passengers.
Fortunately, these types of incidents are few and far between, however if anyone has any concerns while travelling, they can text us on 61016.”
Courts fine a Llwynhendy man for illegal cockling
|A man from Llwynhendy in Llanelli has been fined £1,032 for illegal cockling at Burry Inlet Cockle Fishery.|
|Terry Royston Butchers, aged 64, was summoned to appear at Llanelli Magistrates’ Courts on Friday, 31 January, 2020.|
He admitted taking live cockles from the licensed area twice and failing to comply with instructions from an enforcement officer.
He was fined £240 and ordered to pay Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) legal costs totalling £760, plus £32 court costs.
During a night time patrol on 29 June, 2019, he was found attempting to get sacks of cockles from his quad bike onto a 4×4.
He gave false details and tried to escape several times. NRW officers stopped him and then positively identified him with assistance from Dyfed-Powys Police .
His cockle gathering equipment was seized and he was ordered to place all live cockles back on the cockle beds.Andrea Winterton, Marine Services Manager of Natural Resources Wales, said:
“Our enforcement officers work hard, often in difficult circumstances, to tackle illegal cockling. It is an essential part of our careful management of the cockle beds.
Illegal cockling not only damages people’s livelihoods, it can seriously damage cockle habitat and the sustainability of the cockle population.
”Natural Resources Wales manages the cockling industry at Burry Inlet to maintain the delicate balance between the needs of the local economy and the area’s protected wildlife.
Licensing the area puts measures in place to protect the habitat. Dealing with persistent illegal cockling, helps to prevent the cockle beds from having to close.
There are currently 36 licensed cocklers who can fish sustainably at Burry Inlet. There are 61 people on a waiting list.
Andrea Winterton added:
“The Burry Inlet Fishery is important to our local heritage. If we look after our environment, the economy, society and wildlife can all benefit.
“I would encourage people to report concerns about illegal shell fishing or other fishing practices to the confidential NRW incident hotline on 0300 065 3000.”
Anyone wanting to gather cockles within the Burry Inlet Fishery must have a valid licence.
The only exception is an area between Llanrhidian Pill in the South and Llanelli Dock in the North, where people can gather a maximum of 8kg a day without a licence for personal consumption.
Find out more about the Burry Inlet Cockle Fishery.
To report concerns around illegal cockling, call the NRW hotline on 0300 065 3000 24 hours a day.
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