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Llanelli residents affected by Thomas Cook collapse

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MANY people from Llanelli have been adversely affected by the collapse of Britain’s oldest travel firm.

Founded in Market Harborough in 1841 by businessman Thomas Cook, the company organised railway outings for members of the local temperance movement. 178 years later, it had grown to a huge global travel group, with annual sales of £9bn, 19 million customers a year and 22,000 staff operating in 16 countries.

But all that came to an end on Monday (Sept 23), the Civil Aviation Authority announced that Thomas Cook was to cease trading.

Sheree Jenkins’ family, Thomas Cook customers, are left stranded out in Turkey with no end in sight to their troubles. Speaking to the Herald, she said ”My family are in Turkey, my partner and 3 kids, and are due home Thursday but no flights are labelled as ‘go ahead’.

“8 days into the holiday and being told to pay £1170 to stay in the hotel or they will be kicked out. They are ATOL protected but feel they have no help at all and no one cares for them. They had already paid £3588 for the holiday and the children are distressed and crying.

“We are so stressed it’s unreal, my children are currently sitting outside with tears running down their faces absolutely heartbroken because we have been thrown out. The sun is beaming on us all in 32-degree heat .

“If it was me and my partner, I wouldn’t care but my kids are distraught and so stressed here along with heartbroken. All they want to do is go home and never want to go on holiday again.

“With this being our first family holiday too hearing that from my kids has made me feel absolutely terrible. It is a disgrace”.

The modern Thomas Cook was in stark contrast to what the company used to be. The firm’s fate was sealed by a number of factors including financial, social and even meteorological issues.

As well as weather issues – a super hot summer meaning people were more likely to have a staycation – and stiff competition from online travel agents and low-cost airlines, there were other disruptive factors, including political unrest around the world and many holidaymakers had become used to putting together their own holidays and not using travel agents’ package deals.

In May, Thomas Cook reported a £1.5bn loss for the first half of its financial year, with £1.1bn of the loss caused by the decision to write down the value of My Travel, the business it merged with back in 2007.

It is believed that Brexit was also a key factor in the disruptions with customer bookings as they awaited the fate of their country’s travel policies.

The airline company was then forced to be put up for sale in the hope that they could attain some much-needed funds to keep the company afloat.

Surprisingly, the airline company had seemed to have acquired a deal with Chinese company Fosun but the creditor banks issued a last-minute demand that the company find an extra £200m which proved too costly in the end to find a solution for Thomas Cook.

The Government was asked for a bailout of £250m, which was denied.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this on the Today programme: “I fear it would have kept them afloat for a very short period of time and then we would have been back in the position of needing to repatriate people in any case. The company’s large debts and High Street-focused business made it a poor candidate for survival”.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the company had “ceased trading with immediate effect” and it has also triggered the biggest ever peacetime repatriation, aimed at bringing more than 150,000 British holidaymakers’ home.

The tour operator’s failure puts 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK and many from Pembrokeshire.

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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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Health

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

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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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Business

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

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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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