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Rain, dear, but no washout



raindeer1REINDEER AND ELVES Day in Llanelli on Saturday (Dec 19) was hit badly by the constant rain and miserable winter conditions. However, there were plenty of events going on in the warmer areas of the town including the town library where Lisa Moore and her pop up prevents came to the rescue of those families with children who would have been soaked otherwise. Lisa’s events attract large numbers largely because she knows just what families want. The library was set out with large tables covered with great ideas for arts and crafts following a Christmas theme.

What Mum, Dad, boy or girl could refuse a table full of Lego, a table full of Play-doh and tables full of glue, paint, glitter and a plethora of arts and crafts materials? The added bonus was that it was safe, dry and warm. Everywhere one looked there were children painting, sticking, building and singing happily as they did so. It must be how Santa’s real grotto looks like with so many little helpers busily making beautiful creations to make people happy! The library appeared to be the main focal point for families with a cosy Santa’s grotto where children could see the old bloke himself and get a gift.

Even the main part of the library had gone that extra mile: Christmas displays and Christmas related books were prominent and the library jukebox may just have been playing Christmas songs. The action wasn’t limited to the library. The St Elli Centre was a festive symphony of light, decorations, another Santa’s grotto and of course jam packed with shoppers making the most of the sheltered areas to sit, eat and rest a while after their shopping extravaganza. Llanelli’s covered market was also the focus of some events including balloon artistry, face painting, buskers, stilt walkers and many other stalls who appeared to have gone bonkers over Christmas.

Even local politician Helen Mary Jones was handing out free Welsh cakes and mince pies, such was the Christmas spirit in the town. Literary genius Robert Lloyd read ‘The Night Before Christmas’ to those hardened fans of the written word who had by now moved closer to the reindeer for heat and shelter or else heading in Jenkins cafe (Kerching! Rob) for some of their wonderful locally-sourced produce. Those brave souls who braved the rain were treated to a host of performances on the main stage in the town centre.

Market stalls lined the streets and two antlered reindeer were on display for all to see complete with their keepers bedecked in what looked like traditional Lapland costumes. Children young and old were in awe of these lovely creatures as they enjoyed their reindeer food in their enclosure. Music drifted from the stage, as Sherilyn form the X Factor staged a singing competition for local children. Those who had not bolted for the shelters were treated to a wonderful performance by Sherilyn herself but she was not allowed to enter for the star prize, which was a party package at the Playking in Dafen not a stone’s throw from where Sherilyn herself works. Throughout the day, elves and pixies some on roller skates performed their mischief and mayhem by descending on unsuspecting shoppers and taking their orders for Christmas.

Stilt walkers mingled with shoppers, balloon sellers and buskers who were joined in song at one point in by members of the public. The town, despite the rain, looked colourful and alive. As the shoppers headed for home some hardened spectators remained to catch outstanding musical performances by local musicians and another of the TV show successes, Ragsy from The Voice. There was something very magical about the town as darkness fell, illuminations twinkled and Ragsy belted out Local Boy In A Photograph. His whole set was not the most jolly in the world but there was something very real about the lyrics and his soulful guitar playing as it wafted along the streets of Llanelli, which were once so full at Christmas that people were walking twelve abreast. There was an element of longing but also hope as Llanelli closed down its shops and prepared for the evening’s revellers; an altogether different form of footfall. With high heels on.

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



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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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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