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‘This is not enough!’ Aberaid petitions Council

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Aberaid members: Lucy Hancock and Lindsey Gaunt

Aberaid members: Lucy Hancock and Lindsey Gaunt

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.”

INSIDE ABERAID 

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.”

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Community checks out new Carmarthenshire Policing Hub and Custody Suite

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POLICE and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn today (24.06.22) hosted an open doors event for local stakeholders at Dyfed-Powys’ new Custody Suite and Policing Hub, that is currently under construction at Dafen, Llanelli Carmarthenshire.

Planning permission was granted to the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner by Carmarthenshire County Council back in April 2021 for the proposed development, which is to be an ambitious sustainable construction, with a BREEAM excellence rating.

Wilmott Dixon, who are the Construction Contractor have been on site since autumn preparing for the first construction phases, with specific progress now beginning made on the development, that aims to be completed by May 2023.

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said; “This is a major investment for us which will see an ambitious, modern, sustainable fit for purpose policing hub and custody suite that will meet the needs and expectations of modern policing. 

“During the planning application process between 2020 and 2021, we engaged widely with the local community,  and It was a pleasure to open the door, and welcome local community representatives to the construction site today, to show the progress that has been made to date.

“I’ve worked extremely hard with partners over recent years to ensure that we get to this position and I now look forward to seeing the construction work continue to develop at pace over the year”.

In being a BREEAM related development, the new build will offer a more sustainable environment, that aims to enhance the well-being of the people who work within it, and help protect natural resources.

Amongst some of the sustainable credentials of the new build will be a photovoltaic solar power installation to minimise the carbon footprint of the building; a rainwater harvesting facility for toilets and non-potable water, and electric car charging facilities.

Chief Inspector Richard Hopkin, Dyfed-Powys Police’s operational lead on the new build, said: “We feel very fortunate to be having a new build custody suite and hub coming to Llanelli.

“Our current Llanelli estate is old, so to see a new build that is being designed with such consideration for the environment and the wellbeing of our staff and the community within which it sits is really positive.

“The development will provide a fit for purpose, future proof solution which will complement the town centre Neighbourhood Police Team base.”

Ian Jones, Director at Willmott Dixon commented, “This is the first project that we have worked on with Dyfed Powys Police, and as part of what has being a collaborative partnership, we are delighted to have the opportunity to deliver this development. 

“This is a purpose‐built, new custody suite to replace and supplement provision of custody within Carmarthenshire which will provide excellent facilities to meet the needs of modern law enforcement and detainee wellbeing for Dyfed Powys Police. 

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to welcome guests to the site to show them first-hand how construction is progressing.”

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Ryan Giggs quits as Wales manager with ‘immediate effect’

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EX Man-Utd winger has left his position as the manager of the national football team with ‘immediate effect’.

Giggs stepped back from his role in November 2020 following after being arrested.

49-year-old Giggs has been charged with assault and using controlling behaviour towards an ex-partner. A claim that Giggs has denied.

In a heartfelt statement on his decision, Giggs said: “After much consideration, I am standing down from my position as manager of the Wales men’s national team with immediate effect.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to manage my country, but it is only right that the Wales FA, the coaching staff and the players prepare for the tournament with certainty, clarification and without speculation around the position of their head coach.

“I do not want the country’s preparations for the World Cup to be affected, destabilised or jeopardised in any way by the continued interest around this case.

“I am sad that we cannot continue this journey together because I believe that this extraordinary group will make the country proud at our first World Cup since 1958.

“It is my intention to resume my managerial career at a later date.”

Following Giggs arrest in 2020, former Wales captain Robert Page took over as interim manager.

Under Page Wales beat Ukraine to earn themselves a place at Qatar World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

Giggs faces one charge of using controlling and coercive behaviour August 2017 and November 2020, one charge of assault causing actual bodily harm of his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville on November 1, 2020.

He also faces a charge of common assault on the victim’s sister.

Giggs denies all charges against him and will stand trial on August 8.

The trial is expected to last five days.

Following the announcement, a FAW spokesperson said: “The FAW places on record its gratitude to Ryan Giggs for his tenure as manager of the Cymru men’s national team and appreciates the decision he has taken, which is in the best interests of Welsh football,

“The full focus of the FAW and the Cymru men’s national team is on the Fifa World Cup in Qatar later this year.”

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M&S opticians opens its doors in Llanelli Parc Trostre

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MARKS & SPENCER has opened the newest branch of its M&S Opticians service, located in the retailer’s popular Llanelli store.

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre will offer customers an expert opticians service, which includes a full eye health examination (OCT scan) for every eye test booked at no additional fee.

Free eye tests are available as an opening offer, as well as 15% off glasses and sunglasses for Sparks customers. There’s a wide range of designer brands to choose from including Mulberry, Prada, Joules, Kate Spade, Oakley, Police, Maui Jim along with leading lens manufacturers – Zeiss and Nikon.

Expert advice on contact lens fitting and wearing is also on hand, alongside a contact lens home delivery option. The store will also be home to a hearing aid audiologist who will be offering free hearing health checks along with latest hearing aid technology, including rechargeable models and mobile connectivity.

In addition to the physical experience in-store, customers can book appointments online here, as well as view, purchase and try on glasses via the innovative ‘virtual try on’ tool here

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre is the second optician service to open in Wales following a successful trial across ten UK cities, during which the service received a customer satisfaction rate of 96% and a customer recommendation rate of 96%.

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre Store Manager, Aled Bonnell, said: “We’re always looking for ways to make shopping at M&S even more rewarding and feedback from our trial showed that customers loved the convenience of having an Opticians service in our store. We’re really excited to be opening our M&S Opticians in Llanelli and hearing what our customers think. The choice of different brands we’re offering is second to none and we have brilliant opening offers to suit all budgets.”

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