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Fostering in Wales celebrated

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Mark Drakeford AM

Mark Drakeford AM

POLITICIANS, councillors and representatives from across the fostering sector will be joining the Minister for Health and Social Services Mark Drakeford AM, at a Senedd reception held by The Fostering Network to celebrate the role of foster care onFostering in Wales Day, Friday June 12.
The special day is part of the charity The Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight (June 1-14), and is an opportunity to highlight the fantastic work that thousands of foster families do across the country as well as raising awareness of fostering and the need for 550 more foster families across Wales this year.
The charity will also use the occasion to launch its Foster Carers’ Charter, which has been developed in partnership with ADSS Cymru and the WLGA and outlines the roles and commitments of both fostering services and their foster carers. Attendees will also hear from foster carers Will Howells and Bryn Miles about their experiences, and from health and social services minister Mark Drakeford AM who, as well as reiterating the need for more people to come forward as potential foster carers, will talk about the When I’m Ready scheme and the consultation on the regulations underpinning the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act.
Director of The Fostering Network Wales, Dr Emily Warren, said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate the role of foster care with the minister, AMs, councillors and many others from across the sector.
“Foster carers throughout Wales provide stable and secure homes for thousands of children in care each and every year, often giving these children their first real experience of positive family life. To make sure that fostering services can find the right home for each of these children, first time, another 550 more foster families are needed across Wales in the next year alone.
“For the thousands who are already foster carers, we know how important it is that they feel valued and supported by their fostering service, and that’s why we are using this year’s campaign as an opportunity to launch our Foster Carers’ Charter. This charter makes clear the responsibilities of, and expectations on, both fostering services and foster carers, as they work together to care for fostered children.
“The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. For over 40 years we have been bringing everyone involved in foster care together to make life better for fostered children. We promote and celebrate foster care, influence and create change and develop and share innovative approaches to fostering. That’s why I’m delighted that we are leading Confidence in Care, a consortium funded by the Big Lottery Fund which is delivering a five-year programme aiming to improve the life chances of looked after children across Wales.
“Thank you to all the foster families across Wales for the amazing work that you do. I know that this Foster Care Fortnight you will have inspired others to come forward and make a real difference for fostered children.”
Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said: “It’s an exciting time to be a foster carer or a fostering service provider in Wales as we implement our ambitious plans to transform social care. Foster Care Fortnight is a chance to celebrate our achievements and challenge us to find new ways of achieving better outcomes for looked-after children and their foster carers.
“I am particularly pleased that we are rolling out the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme, which will give young people the opportunity to continue living with their foster carers beyond the age of 18, until they are ready to move to more independent living.”
Phil Evans from the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru said: “Foster carers are at the heart of our fostering service; they provide placements for over two-thirds of all looked after children in Wales. We’re delighted that the Fostering Network has given us the opportunity to acknowledge and thank them again for all their remarkable dedication and commitment.
“It’s every child’s right to live within a safe, secure and stable family environment, to be able to grow, develop and reach their potential. Foster carers offer this opportunity to children of all ages, from new born babies through to young adults. Some look after children on a short-term basis while others provide long-term permanent care. Some provide placements for children with complex needs while others care for children who are part of their extended family.
“This is an essential service provided to children and society as a whole. We’re very mindful that there are c h a l l e n g e s f a c i n g f o s t e r i n g services now and in the longer-term. The new Charter has an important role to play in providing us all with a clear statement about what foster carers need and deserve and what has to improve. ADSS Cymru looks forward to working with The Fostering Network, BAAF Cymru, Welsh Government and other partners to make this vision an everyday reality for all foster carers.”
Cllr Mel Nott OBE (Bridgend), WLGA spokesperson for social services said: “Fostering makes a huge difference to the lives of children by offering them the stable and secure home that they need to flourish. Raising awareness through events like Foster Care Fortnight plays a crucial role and we hope it encourages more people to come forward and help give a child a positive and settled family life. Local government, through initiatives like the Foster Carers’ Charter, remains committed to achieving the highest possible standards both for those children who are in need of a foster family, and also for foster families themselves.”

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Greatly respected Neighbourhood Policing Sergeant crowned Police Officer of the Year

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DESCRIBED as a ‘perfect example of an exemplary Dyfed-Powys Police Officer’, Sergeant Gemma Davies wins the Police Officer of the Year title at the force annual awards. 

The Dyfed-Powys Police annual awards are a celebration of talent, offering individuals and teams the chance to be recognised and rewarded for their commitment, hard work, achievements and success.

Held at a virtual ceremony on November 18, the awards have showcased some of the force’s outstanding work, with a focus on those who have made an exceptional contribution to policing priorities.

Sergeant Gemma Davies from the Ammanford area, has served with Dyfed-Powys Police for 14 years and was nominated for the award by her manager and her team members – of which there are 33 that she currently supervises in the Carmarthenshire Neighbourhood Policing Team. 

Acting Sergeant Ian Roach said: “Gemma is a fantastic police officer. She’s compassionate and really listens, and cares for the communities she serves, but also her team members. 

“Her standards as an officer are second to none – she’s the best Sergeant I’ve ever worked with. She puts so much work and effort into ensuring communities are safeguarded, and that priorities are met. 

“We deliver as a team as a result of Gemma’s enthusiasm and drive. She is so thorough – no stone is left unturned when she’s looking to resolve a problem.” 

The Police Officer of the Year award recognises excellence, dedication, and initiative within the role.

Not only has Sergeant Gemma Davies scooped this award, but she was also a finalist in the Inspiring Leadership award and nominated in the Here for You category in this year’s annual awards.

Inspector Dawn Fencott-Price said: “Gemma will take on any challenge with a smile and positive attitude – which is infectious and in turn is reciprocated by her team and colleagues from partner agencies.

“She is innovative – one example being where she introduced online virtual meetings for key individuals in the community at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, which proved invaluable in ensuring our communities were kept informed, updated and reassured at such an uncertain time. This was in fact so successful that it was adopted and replicated across the force area.

“She has also instigated many multi agency operations in response to community concerns to tackle the supply of drugs in Carmarthenshire, one notable example being in Bynea last year, which resulted in the seizure of a large number of cannabis plants with a street value of more than £300,000.

“Previously recognised for her relationship building and intelligence gathering in hostile environments by the Senior Management Team, she is passionate about promoting and adopting a problem-solving approach to ensure they get to the root cause of problems.  I have witnessed Gemma’s professionalism first-hand and continue to do so on a regular basis.”

Acting Sergeant Ian Roach concluded: “Gemma is excellent – you couldn’t ask for a better Sergeant. Everyone looks up to her, she is a shining light that motivates everyone she works with.”

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Llanelli animal rescue centre handed grand boost

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Many Tears Animal Rescue

AN ANIMAL rescue centre in Llanelli has received a financial boost as it gears up for its busiest time of the year.

Many Tears Animal Rescue in Cefneithin has received a £1,000 fillip from Persimmon Homes West Wales.

The money comes as part of the housebuilder’s Community Champions scheme. Each and every month Persimmon donates up to £64,000 to good causes across the UK.

The centre rescues unwanted animals and offers life-saving treatment and operations.

Sylvia Van Atta, who founded Many Tears Animal Rescue with her husband Bill, said: “We’re delighted to receive this generous donation from Persimmon Homes.

“We give animals hope of a new life when sometimes they have only known a life of misery, neglect and cruelty.

“On average, we rescue and rehome 3,000 dogs a year, which is an incredible achievement for a small charity.

“When dogs come to us they are seen by a vet and then placed in foster homes around the country, which helps them to acclimatise into a home environment. From here, they go onto their forever home.

“Our running costs are very high so donations like this from Persimmon make the world of difference.”

Sharon Bouhali, sales director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “We’re pleased to be able to support Many Tears Animal Rescue with this donation.

“The number of animals they help each year is very impressive indeed. I wouldn’t like to think what would happen to these animals otherwise as I know the council run rescue centres are under tremendous pressure.

“All of this has been exasperated by the number of people who bought dogs during various lockdowns, only to decide later on they couldn’t look after them properly.

“We wish Sylvia and her team well for the future.”

Persimmon is preparing to start work on stunning new homes on Aberavon seafront. Househunters can now register an interest by visiting www.persimmonhomes.com or calling 01639 509 055

For more information visit www.persimmonhomes.com, or to apply for Community Champions funding visit www.persimmonhomes.com/charity.

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The centre for building social action opens community food store in Burry Port

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Cllr Karen Morris, Dee Hamilton, Huw Thomas

IN RESPONSE to the rising cost of living and environmental issues facing society, The Centre for Building Action (CBSA), in partnership with Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council have opened a Community Food Store on Station Road in Burry Port.

The store provides the community with weekly access to great quality, healthy food for only £3.50 pr week; food which normally retails at between £15 and £20.

The food is sourced from a variety of suppliers with a large element of it being surplus food from supermarkets that is still within its sell by date. This is supplemented by food sourced at low prices from whole sellers plus seasonal vegetables harvested from the CBSA’s own growing schemes.

As well as being a low-cost way of shopping it also offers a low impact alternative to members of the community concerned about the environmental impact of waste. It makes use of surplus food provided by FareShare and local food stores and any product that is not used is sent to CBSA’s community composting site in Machynys or used to make hot meals for donation, so there is little or no waste from the store.

Michael Theodoulou, Chief Executive of the Centre for Building Social Action said ‘As a social justice charity, it’s vital that we’re able to support communities with life’s basics and this store does just that.

It gives the local community access to great quality food at accessible prices, which is so important given prices are rising across the board and benefits are being cut, causing people a huge amount of anxiety’.

During the height of the pandemic, with funding provided by, WCVA’s Third Sector Emergency and Recovery Funds, CBSA in conjunction with the Town Council were able to roll out a food delivery scheme to people experiencing hardship and isolation. Building on this work it was delighted to receive funding from the Peoples Postcode Trust, that facilitated the move to Station Road.

Huw Thomas, the Town Clerk said ‘Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council are partners in this initiative in that they offered a home for the project during its initial set up, and we continue to support its work particularly with the recruitment of volunteers and signposting to its services’.

Deputy Mayor, Cllr Karen Morris said ‘It was important for the Town Council to partner on this project because the Store is offering something that is needed in the community; access to high quality, low cost food. Many of the families living here are concerned about making ends meet and putting food on the table, and the Store helps to alleviate those concerns. It also provides a no waste, low impact alternative to regular shopping’.

Thanks to the team of amazing, enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers that support the service, the Burry Port Community Store is open from 11am – 5pm every Tuesday and often has a queue of people waiting for it to open. Burry Port resident Paula Regler visits the store each week and said ‘The Store is a great help in making our pension money go a bit further. We take what we need to for the week and it helps us make ends meet’.

If you would like to find out more about visiting the store, or if you would like to support the Store by making in kind donations please visit the store between 11am – 5pm on Tuesdays. 

The Store is located at 38 Station Road, Burry Port, SA16 0LP. Or you can call Emma on 07932 998849 for more information

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