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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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Llangennech: Police praise the courage of victims of sexual predator Peter Lewis

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THE OUTSTANDING courage of three victims of a sexual predator has been commended by the officers who investigated the case.

Following the sentencing of ‘predatory’ child abuser Peter Lewis.

The 54-year-old, of Tirgof, Llangennech, will serve a 27 year extended sentence for raping and sexually assaulting three girls, who were all under the age of 13 at the time of the offences.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Roberts, Dyfed-Powys Police, said:
“The three victims in this case have shown tremendous courage by supporting this investigation and giving evidence at court.
“Without them, this predatory sexual offender would not have been brought to justice.”

On Friday, 29 March 2019, Lewis was found guilty of 16 counts of sexual offences against children, including four of rape, seven of sexual assault, two of making indecent images and one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

DCI Roberts continued: “Lewis did not accept responsibility and showed no remorse for his crimes. The investigating team has been tenacious in pursuing the truth and seeking justice for these brave girls.
“If anyone reading this has concerns surrounding contact they, or someone they know, has had with Peter Lewis, I urge them to speak to us.
“We have specialist police officers who will be there to support anyone who reports sexual offences to us.”

Police said: “We encourage any victims of sexual offences to have the confidence to come forward and report the offence to us. All reports are dealt with seriously and sensitively. Reports can be made by calling 101.

“Anyone with concerns about contact they, or someone they know, has had with Peter Lewis, is encouraged to contact Dyfed-Powys Police, quoting crime reference: DPP/0037/09/02/2018/01/C.”

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Llanelli Town Mayor hosted the Easter Family Fun Day

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Llanelli Town Mayor David Darkin and Mayoress Kim Darkin with Cllr Suzy Curry and Cllr John Prosser also Nia Nia Griffith MP

ON Saturday 20th April Llanelli Town Mayor hosted the Easter Family Fun Day in the Selwyn Samuel Centre Arena.

The day was a huge success and raised lots of money for the mayors chosen charities – the main charity bring CYCA which provides support to children and young people in Carmarthenshire.

Attendees were treated to taster sport sessions with Rugby Tots, a selection of songs from Shrek Jr from the Hive Theatre Company, magic and fun from Crazy Clayton and a very special visit from Belle who sung songs and played games with the children.

Emergency services information stalls

The event was supported by many local community groups and even had a fire engine pop in for a visit.

Asda llanelli donated some of the Easter eggs and a huge thank you to other raffle prize donors including Joe’s ice cream, hungry horse and berridge-Jones photography.

Cllr David Darkin would like to thank everyone who supported and gave their time to make the event the success it was.

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Wales’ largest ever coastal walking festival launches May

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THIS May a new walking festival celebrating seven years of the 870-mile coast path will take place. The festival’s aim is to encourage locals across Wales to get outdoors, meet new people and appreciate the beautiful Welsh landscapes.

Walks will cover seven coastal regions will be organised by the Wales Coast Path and Ramblers Cymru.

The festival not only aims to showcase Wales’ beautiful coastline and countless natural assets, the Wales Coast Path Walking Festival will also boost local tourism along the path whilst encouraging residents to come together to celebrate the country’s iconic coastline.

Taking place 4th -19th May 2019, the festival will feature over 40 new guided walks created by Ramblers Cymru. The festival programme has been specifically designed to suit all ages and abilities, with the majority of the walks free to join.

From fully accessible and short family walks tonature walks and more challenging hikes, the festival aims to encourage people to enjoy outdoor exercise while exploring Wales’ iconic coastline. All walks will be led by experienced guides offering insights into the unique wildlife, fascinating history and culture that can be found along the way.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “This festival is set to be an excellent addition to Wales’ Year of Discovery and a way for visitors and locals to discover more about our unique Wales Coast Path. I’m delighted that the guided walks will encourage people to find out more about the landscape, history and wildlife associated with the coastal path and will also be an excellent way to be active while discovering more of Wales.”

Local authorities for each of the seven coastal regions, which include South Wales, The Gower, Ceredigion, the Llŷn Peninsula, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen, and North Wales, will help support the event, along with partners National Resources Wales, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and a number of charities including Keep Wales Tidy.

The festival, which coincides with Visit Wales’ Year of Discovery 2019, will follow a theme of discovery which will be prominent throughout. The Wales Coast Path is the world’s first uninterrupted route along a national coast and gives hikers access to undiscovered sections of the coast with stunning views, rugged landscapes and rare wildlife.

To learn more about the Wales Coast Path walking festival or book walks visit: www.walescoastpath.gov.uk

Register to attend the festival: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/wales-coast-path-walking-festival-2019-18812644097

Admission free (additional charges for linear walks where transport is required).

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