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Syrian refugees yearn for home

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Abir Wahish and daughter Ruby

Abir Wahish and
daughter Ruby

A PUBLIC meeting aimed at discussing plans to offer support to Syrian refugees due to arrive in the country was held at the Antioch Centre in Llanelli on Monday (May 16).

Organisations including Syria Sir Gar, Carmarthenshire County Council and Ethnic Youth Support Team (EYST) were in attendance.

Following an announcement from Carmarthenshire County Council that it will be hosting vulnerable people as part of a national Home Office initiative, the voluntary group Syria Sir Gar has formed to offer humanitarian support to the new arrivals.

Addressing the meeting Carmarthenshire County Council’s Head of Public Protection and Housing Robin Staines said: “The UK government agreed to assist 20,000 people coming to the UK, fleeing the war in Syria.

“Our council looked at the situation last September (2015) and we agreed to house sixty households. A household could be an individual or a family. If you break that down to a national quota, the council would be more than meeting their responsibilities as part of that response.

“Since September, we have been working and planning to put things into place.”

Mr Staines said the council had had a fantastic response form the public and voluntary sector across Carmarthenshire and had been planning for six months to put all the logistics in place.

Explaining how the Council would rehouse refugees, Mr Staines said that the council went out to tender for professional services to support the families and that they had chosen EYST based in Swansea.

He continued: “A number of provisions had to be put in place including Housing and Support provision, Bank Accounts, National Insurance Numbers, Biometric Identification and accommodation, which the council are finalising with private landlords.

“The properties are there and we have the support in place. The critical success of this will be the community and how the community opens its arms and welcomes those families in and gives them the support as I know the people of Llanelli will.”

Abir Wahish is a Syrian who has been resident in Carmarthenshire since 2006.

She gave a presentation on her homeland and decried media coverage of it. She claimed media reports were failing to show the rich history, beauty and strategic importance of the country. She said that she believed that this was a deliberate attempt at diverting attention away from the real issue, which was a possible land grab by other Middle Eastern counties, leaving Syrians without a country to go back to.

Speaking to The Herald after the meeting Abir said: “The media keeps showing a negative image of Syria. This is unfair and unjust. It is like they are trying to distract people from the real reason or knowing about the root causes of what is happening there.

“Syria is a wonderful country in a very important strategic location and probably there are people who are stealing this land. All the refugees are being pushed out. If there are no Syrians left, the land is up for grabs. If it were only a matter of a dictatorial regime and opposition to that regime, it would have been solved by now. I feel outside powers are trying to push it further.”

The Herald asked Abir what she would say to those who claim an influx of refugees will place a stress on local resources.

“It is important for people to know that most refugees will want to go back to Syria, which is a very beautiful country. It is important to help refugees keep ownership of their land in Syria, so they can return. I would like to ensure the land is safeguarded.

“I am very concerned that the Syrian people will end up like the Palestinians without the right to return. If you really want to help the Syrian people help them keep the ownership of Syria for the Syrians. It is an open place where people have co-existed. It is a peaceful place. There is no need to fear from the Syrian people. There is no need to fear that they will be taking your jobs. They want to go back and they will go back.”

Abir told The Herald that she had returned to Syria many times, even during the war.

“I go back to Syria every year. I didn’t stop going back. I went with my children and they went to school there. Every day I wake up and think, should I go back to Syria.

“I like it here but Syria is a beautiful country.

“My main message would be that I would welcome anyone with fears and concerns to talk and hopefully show that there is no need to fear anything. I would beg the media to stop destroying Syria and this country with their negative narrative. This meeting is a wonderful start.”

Abir explained: “I am not denying the destruction. People are suffering there from poverty, no currency, no jobs no electricity. They are being put in a pressure cooker. They have either been pushed out by force or they are being pushed out because they have nothing left to stay for. They are getting faith from their belonging to the land and from God. They believe that if they leave and go to another country their land will be stolen and that they will not be accepted and that they will be humiliated.”

In a final plea she said: “It is fantastic to see people giving clothes and teddies etc.; but in this democratic country, while you can, please help the Syrians politically to be able to go back to their country legally.”

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Llanelli: Stop notice issued for school planning application

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A CONTROVERSIAL planning application for a new 480-spaced school in Llanelli has been issued a stop notice by the Welsh Government.
Carmarthenshire County Council is proposing to build a new £9.1m school on Llanerch Fields in Llanelli and were looking to determine the planning application in the coming weeks. Welsh Government will now decide whether to call in the application or not.
The new school would accommodate 420 primary and 60 nursery pupils, set over two floors with larger classrooms with integrated IT facilities, a multi-purpose hall and specialist provision for pupils with additional learning needs.
Over recent years there has been much debate in the area on the choice of site for the new school with campaigners arguing that they support a new school, but object against Llanerch fields being built upon. Last year an attempt to get the land designated as a village green was turned down.
In 2017, Ysgol Dewi Sant as the first Welsh medium primary school to be provided by a local authority celebrated its 70th birthday.
Councillor Rob James, local member for Lliedi, stated “From day one I have raised concerns that the Council’s site choice and planning process opened the Council up to the possibility of the Welsh Government calling in the planning application. It is clear that these concerns were not misplaced and there is now a really chance that it will be. 

“As a local Councillor, a school governor and a parent, I am passionate about the need for a new school for the pupils of Ysgol Dewi Sant and it is important that local pupils get the benefits of a 21st century school.
“I will now be working with Council Officers to ensure that contingency plans are prepared in case the Welsh Government state that the planning application does not comply with national planning policy.
“I will also work with parents, pupils, residents and interested parties are able to engage with the Welsh Government during this process.”

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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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Compensation offered after FSCS declares Llanelli firm in default

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CONSUMERS could get back money they have lost as a result of their dealings with a failed regulated firm in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. The firm is Hayden Williams Independent Financial Services Limited formerly Assura Protect, Room 1, 7 Meadows Bridge, Parc Menter, Cross Hands, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales SA14 6RA.

The firm was declared in default in June 2019 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

FSCS is the UK’s statutory compensation scheme that protects customers of authorised financial services firms that carry out certain regulated activities. A declaration of default means FSCS is satisfied a firm is unable to pay claims for compensation made against it. This paves the way for customers of that firm to make a claim for compensation with FSCS.

Alex Kuczynski, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at FSCS, said: “FSCS steps in to protect consumers around the UK when authorised financial services firms go bust. This vital service, which is free to consumers, protects deposits, insurance, investments, home finance and debt management. We want anyone who believes they may be owed money as a result of their dealings with this firm to get in touch, as we may be able to help you.”

Since it began in 2001, FSCS has helped more than 4.5m people, paying out more than £26bn in compensation.

If you wish to make a claim with FSCS against Hayden Williams Independent Financial Services Limited, you may be able to do so using FSCS’s online claims service at https://claims.fscs.org.uk Or you can contact its Customer Services Team on 0800 678 1100 or 020 7741 4100

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