WHEN CEREDIGION county council announced that it would accept ten more refugees this year, the network Aberaid felt that the county could do more and launched a new petition. The petition states: ‘This is not enough!’
Ceredigion is a county of only 76,000 people occupying 1,790 square kilometres, and Aberaid argue that we have the resources and room to accommodate more than ten people per year when the refugee crisis is so huge and acute.
Aberaid record that more than 11 million people have been displaced from their homes in Syria, and at least half of these are children. 6.6 million people are internally displaced. Five million people are refugees seeking safety and shelter in other countries. Millions of people living in the refugee camps across the Middle East are living in complete squalor with very little food, clothing, warm bedding or access to education. Between two and three million Syrian children are currently not attending any form of school. There are 2.7 million refugees in Turkey, 1.8 million in Lebanon, 800,000 in Jordan, 250,000 in Iraq and 120,000 in Egypt.
Record numbers of people claimed asylum last year in Europe, with more than a million refugees arriving in 2015, around half of them from Syria. Germany received almost 600,000 refugees in 2015, with more arriving every day. Hungary has accepted 178,000 refugees. Greece is sheltering at least 65,000, with thousands more arriving on its islands’ beaches each week. More than 3,770 people drowned last year in the Mediterranean trying to find safety. Wales has pledged to take 1,500 Syrian refugees in the next few years but, as yet, only a handful have actually arrived. Aberaid contest that Ceredigion has the capacity to take at least 50 refugees each year until 2020.
Aberaid’s Julie Makin told the Herald: “A recent Channel 4 News feature showed how the whole community has pulled together to welcome the 11 refugees who arrived in Ceredigion late last year. Our Council was really proactive in their response to the crisis, and led the way in Wales. Although most mainstream media seems to have moved on, the refugee crisis continues. Aberaid is willing to help in any way we can to facilitate the arrival of the next group of Syrians seeking sanctuary here in West Wales.”
Aberaid began with a Facebook conversation between local mothers of young children who watched in horror as the refugee crisis unfolded last year, feeling helpless. So, the women took action, helping to collect clothing for refugees in Calais camps through Rum Aid, which was set up by Huw ‘Rummers’ Roberts.
Aberaid then organised the ‘Solidarity with Refugees’ rally on the promenade. Mark Williams MP, Elin Jones AM and Ceredigion Council leader Ellen ap Gwynn all spoke at that rally. An Aberaid petition called on Ceredigion Council to accept some refugees and public support led to the Counsel setting up a Task Force and becoming a ‘trailblazer’ local authority.
When the refugees arrived in Ceredigion, Aberaid liaised with the Council and Care Society to collect donations of household goods to equip their accommodation. Since then, Aberaid supported ‘Shoes for Little Syrians’, collecting children’s shoes via drop off points in local schools to go to camps in the Middle East. A fundraiser at the Morlan Centre for Faith and Culture in December 2015 raised £2,000, which went to charities specifically helping refugees on Greek Islands.
In March, Aberaid raised a further £600 to go to charities working in refugee camps in France. Clothing and bedding was delivered to camps in Calais via Aberaid and the student group Aber2Calais, who filmed their trip.
Last Friday (Jul 8), Aberaid drove some donations up to a group called Pobl i Bobl near Bangor. Pobl I Bobl have a container going out to refugee camps in Lebanon in the next few days. Pobl i Bobl are also receiving donations from Share in Mold.
DYFI CONVOY TO CALAIS
This month, a group of 20 volunteers from Machynlleth and the convoy. The convoy will take the Aberaid donations that Johnny Gaunt and Ian Bell were unable to deliver when French authorities turned them away last month (Ceredigion Herald, June 24). In addition to delivering essential supplies such as dried foods and bedding, volunteers will stay on to ‘offer their compassionate presence and time, volunteering in the camp’. As well as helping out practically, they want to listen to people’s stories, helping to make them feel heard and not forgotten.
A successful fundraising ‘Ceilidh for Calais’ on Saturday (Jul 9) in the Plas, Machynlleth, welcomed over 150 people and raised an invaluable £665.
Convoy organiser Rosie Strickland, who has visited the Calais camp before to deliver bicycles, told the Herald: “Community support for this cause is huge and a broad range of people came to offer what they could, whether that be just their time, food, clothes or the odd pound popped in the donation tin.”
The Ceilidh also featured the sale of homemade food, cakes, bread and snacks, a rummage sale, glitter painting, and writing postcards and messages for refugees. Very popular was an auction of donated items, including original artworks, kitchenware, and beautifully renovated musical instruments.
Rosie Strickland said: “The crucial work of ordinary people, in the face of such widespread ignorance by the state and the continuing propagandising of racism, xenophobia and islamophobia in the mainstream media, is absolutely fundamental, not only in easing the physical situation of the people in crisis, but also in improving emotional and mental well-being.”
APPEAL FOR ACCOMMODATION
On June 13, Aberaid launched an appeal to help the Council find accommodation for its Syrian Resettlement Programme. So far, the Council have been unable to find suitable and affordable accommodation.
Aberaid state that: “It is important to note that the Council are not displacing any local people in need of affordable housing in order to do this.”
The appeal is aimed directly at landlords in the private sector, where many vacant properties may be suitable. The Council are looking for property in Aberystwyth and Lampeter or within a five mile radius, provided there is an adequate bus service. Rent will be paid at Local Housing Allowance (LHA) level.
In Ceredigion, a one bedroom household is eligible for £386.92 per month and a four bedroom household is eligible for £598.34 per month. A single person under thirty-five years is eligible for £270.83 per month. Suitable properties should be available for a minimum of 12 months.
Aberaid member, Lindsey Gaunt, said: “Aberaid offered to help the council as their housing department was not successful in finding any private accommodation suitable for the Syrian Resettlement Programme. Aberaid spent time researching and speaking to housing agents and landlords and provided a list of 12 houses or flats in Aberystwyth and three in Lampeter that would be suitable and were around the right rental rates. We are aware that there is some flexibility with regard to rates if landlords know that the contracts will be fixed for multiple years. We are waiting with great excitement to hear which of these homes are going to be chosen and very much hope that Lampeter will join Aberystwyth as a host communities for Syrian refugees.”
Llanelli High Street shortlisted for prize
LLANELLI HIGH STREET has been shortlisted in the Government’s Great British High Street Awards, in proud partnership with Visa, putting them in the running for up to £15,000.
After a rigorous selection process led by a panel of independent judges, the high street has been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, which celebrates high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify.
The bid by Ymlaen Llanelli follows research commissioned by Visa in April 2019 demonstrating the positive impact that the local high street has on communities. The research found that nearly three quarters of consumers (71%) in Wales say that shopping locally makes them feel happy, with nearly half (45%) citing supporting local shops and knowing where their money is going as the main reason. Spending time with friends and family (25%) and offering a sense of community (18%) were other reasons cited for why high streets make people feel happier. The research also reveals that half of consumers (50%) feel that their high street gives them a sense of pride in their local community.
High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP said: “Congratulations to Llanelli for being shortlisted for the Rising Star Award for this year’s Great British High Street Awards.
“Llanelli high street is a hive of activity, with food festivals, childrens’ days and community get-togethers all part of the local calendar. A great example of how high streets can bring a renewed energy to communities.
“People are happier when they can see their hard-earned cash support local businesses. That is why we are celebrating those that go above and beyond to keep their high streets thriving for generations to come.”
Sundeep Kaur, Head of UK & Ireland Merchant Services at Visa, added: “We’ve seen some fantastic entries for this year’s Great British High Street Awards across both the Champion High Street and Rising Star categories. In particular, the desire to innovate stands out amongst this year’s entries, with high streets adapting to the challenges presented by a rapidly changing retail environment to find ways to thrive at a local level.
“As our research shows, high streets play a vital role at the heart of communities, so this is a great opportunity for those communities with shortlisted high streets to show their support by placing their votes on the Great British High Street website.”
Llanelli High Street is one of the 28 high streets that have been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, identifying high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify. 12 high streets have been shortlisted in the Champion High Street category, which recognises the UK’s best high streets. All 40 high streets are now in the running to win a prize of up to £15,000 to be dedicated to a local high street initiative.
Head Teacher at Primary school in Llanelli suspended
THE HEAD TEACHER of a Welsh primary school has been suspended, it has been confirmed.
Catherine Lloyd-Jenkins, who is head at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes in Llanelli, has been suspended from her duties at the school with immediate effect.
Governors at the school have been unavailable for comment, but Carmarthenshire Council confirmed the news this morning.
It is understood that the chair of the governing body is currently out of the country, and the council would not comment further on the circumstances surrounding the suspension.
The council’s director of education, Gareth Morgans, said: “School staffing is a matter for the Governing Body, however, we can confirm the headteacher of Ysgol Ffwrnes has been suspended.
“It is not appropriate to comment further.”
Mrs Lloyd-Jenkins has worked at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes for 23 years, taking up a post at the school in 1996.
She has been the headteacher there for almost 20 years, taking over the role in 2000. She has also worked as a peer inspector at Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales confirmed.
According to one local councillor, ‘serious concerns’ have been raised about the school in recent months.
“Local residents and parents have approached us raising serious concerns about the school in question,” said Carmarthenshire councillor Rob James.
“We are in dialogue with senior council officers to assert whether the allegations are credible and what action the council and governors have taken in response to these allegations.”
Dyfed-Powys Police numbers at record low, say Labour
POLICE officers based across the Dyfed-Powys area are now at their lowest levels in the last decade, with over 300 officers being lost across the region, claim Carmarthenshire Labour.
According to a freedom of information request by Carmarthenshire Labour, police officers based across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are down 42% and are at record lows in both Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.
The figures published by Dyfed-Powys Police show that Carmarthenshire has lost 160 officers in the last ten years, Pembrokeshire is down 107 officers and Ceredigion has lost 56 bobbies on the beat.
These figures come off the back of a poor report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that shows the force has gone backwards in the last year, with crime also on the increase.
HMIC’s recent PEEL (Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) report noted concerns about Dyfed-Powys Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime and specifically warned of failures to assess all incidents of domestic abuse.
Carmarthenshire Labour Leader Cllr Rob James claims that the figures show that the current Police and Crime Commissioner is now performing worse than their predecessor.
Rob James stated: “These figures that show a dramatic decrease in police numbers are extremely worrying and reinforce what communities are saying across Dyfed Powys – there are simply not enough police officers in our areas.
“The fact that we now have lower police numbers in the three counties compared to the end of the last Police and Crime Commissioner’s term with crime now on the rise illustrates that the Plaid Cymru Commissioner is failing in his duty to protect our communities.
“We need urgent action to make our communities safe once more, as there is a clear link between the loss of youth provision and cuts to officer numbers, and the rise of crime in our communities.
“There is little evidence that our Commissioner has grasped the nettle over the last three years in tackling this important issue.”
These claims however, have been slapped down by Police and Crime Comissioner, Dafydd Llewellyn. He said that said that Cllr James had misunderstood or misrepresented the information provided to him.
The Carmarthen data have a significant rider attached to them.
The explanatory note reads: ‘It should be noted that the figures for Carmarthenshire police division between 2008 and 2018 are not comparable as the structure of Carmarthenshire division in 2018 has altered to that of 2008 which has impacted upon the figures provided’.
That explanation is expanded upon concerning the Ceredigion data. Regarding them, an explanatory note warns that: ‘[T]he structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded divisionally now come under the HQ remit, e.g. the Road Policing Unit, CID, etc.’.
Dafydd Llewelyn pointed out that note in his response to The Herald: “As outlined in the response to the Freedom of Information request, structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded as divisionally based are now recorded under the HQ remit, for example, Roads Policing Unit, CID.”
Dafydd Llewelyn continued: “Since taking up my role as the elected person to represent the many communities across the four counties served by the force, I have increased the overall resource available by 4%. I have ploughed funding into dedicated teams to support front line officers and have invested in resources to support the most vulnerable in our communities.
“I have commissioned services specific to their needs – be that as victims of domestic abuse or young people choosing to leave their homes for reasons unknown to authorities. I will continue to do this. I will not be held to account by numbers on paper alone, but by the difference I can make to individuals’ quality of life.
“I will also use the opportunity I have to campaign for services appropriate to the very specific needs an area the size of Dyfed-Powys Police has and will work with the force to adapt according to those needs.”
He concluded by pointing out: “Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys remain the safest counties nationally and I’m proud to be driving a service that is willing and able to flex and respond, despite the financial challenges faced day-in-day-out.”
Uncategorised2 weeks ago
Police search home of former Carmarthenshire County Council boss Mark James
News2 weeks ago
Llanelli High Street shortlisted for prize
Uncategorised2 weeks ago
Llanelli: Police appeal following incident at Pemberton traffic lights
Top News2 weeks ago
Flat fire in Llywnhendy
Sport2 weeks ago
Llangennech earn crucial win
Sport6 days ago
Reds open with a point
Sport2 weeks ago
Williams-duo sink Porthcawl
Sport2 weeks ago
Felinfoel see off Drefach