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Army seeks to engage community



army21C A R M A R T H E N S H I R E County Council’s top brass came face to face with the Army’s top brass in an Army Engagement event held at Parc y Scarlets on Thursday (Jul 14). A large Army presence gathered outside and inside the stadium, giving invited local businesses and community organisations the opportunity to engage with them.

The man in charge of events was Colonel Lance Patterson, the Deputy Commander of 160th Infantry Brigade.

Colonel Patterson told The Herald that he had been in the Army for 28 years. He is a former pupil of Bryngwyn School in Llanelli and a graduate of Leicester University. Colonel Patterson said that he had gone straight into the army from university where he attended Sandhurst and received his commission.

Speaking about the event, he said: “I am here to talk about what the British Army does now and what we are doing in Wales. We have a team from London and Wales here and we are focussing on communication. We are setting out where your taxes a being spent. We have a covenant between the nation and the army, which is aimed at looking after our servicemen and women. If you are serving in the army, you can get free access to swimming pools. There are a number of issues surrounding serving men and women and their families. Children of servicemen are in local schools and families live in the local community.”

Questions were asked by a number of community organisations about what they could do to offer more support to the Army. The reply was that the Army does quite well with its own in -house services and that anyone interested in working with the army should seek advice from the County’s Armed Forces Champion, who happens to be County Councillor David Jenkins.

Inspector Rhys Williams from Dyfed -Powys Police asked if the Army Engagement team worked with the police force on their ‘Be the Best’ programme. He said that it would be something he would be interested in finding out more about.

Speaking to The Herald after the event, Inspector Williams said that he was at the event to find out what opportunities there were for working with the Army Engagement team. He said: “We have some reserves in the police force and it is possible for people to juggle being a police officer with being in the reserves. There are obviously benefits for both parties given the quality of training both the police and army provide.”

During a multimedia presentation, the audience saw and heard the story of Paul, a homeless man who had been introduced to one of the Army’s programmes in the community, where he had been referred by the Department of Work and Pensions onto a scheme and was now holding down a job with a local builder who had become a partner with the Army engagement team.

The Herald asked Colonel Patterson what changes were ahead for the army as a result of Great Britain leaving the EU. He said: “As far as a the British Army and NATO are concerned, it is business as usual. Our commitment to UK security remains the same.”

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Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services



MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.

Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.

Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.

“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”

Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.

They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS

Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”

“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”

Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.

The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.

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Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre



LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.

In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.

This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”

“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”

“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”

“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”

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Fire safety plea as dry weather puts countryside on high alert



WEEKS of unusually dry weather have put the UK countryside at high risk of fires which could be started by careless visitors, warns NFU Mutual.

The leading rural insurer is making a plea for people visiting the countryside not to use disposable barbecues, and to take care to avoid starting fires by accidentally dropping matches in such arid conditions.

Following an exceptionally dry spring, many parts of the UK countryside are at high risk of fires started by barbecues and cigarette ends, the insurer warns. These fires can put people, farm animals and wildlife at risk, as well as destroying natural habitats.

Over the past two months, firefighters have tackled grassland fires across the UK – including in South West England, Scotland and Wales.

In late March, a gorse fire on Dartmoor led to the closure of the busy A386 as the fire sent clouds of smoke across the carriageway.

In Wales, an early April grassfire near Stormy Down, Bridgend, caused damage to an area equal to about 25 football pitches.

On Salisbury Plain, a grassfire fire in early May which destroyed a plantation of trees was traced to a fire pit which had been used as a barbecue.

Scotland too has suffered a number of fires including one near Dumbarton in late April which required 20 firefighters to bring it under control.

Rebecca Davidson, NFU Mutual Rural Affairs Specialist, said: “After a very dry spring, a dropped match or smouldering barbecue is all that’s needed to start a serious fire in our fields and forests.

“With more hot weather forecast, as many people are heading to the countryside, we’re urging visitors to take care to avoid starting a fire. All too often, disposable barbecues, which seem to have gone out, smoulder for hours and start fires which can engulf acres of growing crops and wildlife habitats.”

NFU Mutual claims statistics reveal the cost of farm fires totalled £69m in 2020 – a 40% rise from 2019.

NFU Mutual Countryside Fire Prevention Guide

Don’t drop used matches or cigarettes – they can smoulder and start a fire
Don’t use disposable barbecues on grass or moorland
Call 999 if you spot a grassland or moorland fire while out in the countryside
Avoid parking in country lanes where emergency services vehicle access could be blocked
Don’t drop litter – discarded bottles can focus sunlight and start a fire
Keep to footpaths when walking in the countryside
More information about safety in the countryside is available from NFU Mutual’s website:

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