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Princess Royal supports Listeners Scheme

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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 jo@samaritans.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.

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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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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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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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