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Food bank appeals for supplies

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A FOOD bank in Llanelli has appealed for members of the public to donate much-needed supplies, at a time when concerns have been raised about the levels of homelessness in the town.

The Herald recently visited the Llanelli Food Bank in Myrtle House to meet with local coordinator Claire Childs and local councillors Fozia Akhta and Sara Griffiths, who are concerned with the staggering cases of people in need of supplies.

Llanelli Food Bank opened in 2011 and has been an invaluable asset to the local community. It is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10am-1pm and 5:30pm-8:30pm. The food bank is always in need of donations, and members of the general public who are willing and able are urged to donate tins, dry food, cartons, toiletries, and nappies, which are an urgently sought after item.

Eligible individuals with food tokens are able to use the service up to three times within a six-month period, and the number of visitors is increasing in the run-up to the festive period.

All the ladies share a passion for helping the homeless community. This is at a crucial time when many other food banks are currently unable to supply stock.

Claire Childs, Co-Ordinator at Llanelli Food Bank said that they would be open on an on-call basis over the Christmas period.

“All other agencies are closed so we’re on-call so to speak for anyone that’s referred to us, we’ll help them straight away,” she added.

“There are local Housing Charities involved, Social working teams, doctor’s surgeries, Mind, Age Concern, Citizen’s Advice, to name but a few. These are agencies that can support others in their time of need through vouchers so they can have direct access to us. We ask for people to be referred so they’ve got the continued agency support that they need, it’s vital.

“We can supply three to four days of food during three visits spread over six months which works out at around three to four meals per day. It’s not just tins that we supply, it’s also snacks, tea, coffee and milk. If they need long-term support, their caseworker can assess that need and we’ll try to help. Usually, after a week and a half, lots are out of their rut as a result of help,” she added.

“We are always looking for food that can be kept at room temperature such as tins, pasta, rice, and cereal. UHT milk and fruit juice are sought after, they don’t require refrigeration until open, and a lot of our clients don’t have fridges and freezers.

“Our focus is mainly on food, but we are always thankful for items such as nappies, wet wipes, sanitary products, toilet roll and any other toiletries. When we have, we give.

“We’ve had Harvest stock in from local schools and churches. We’re currently quite buoyant but we fly through stock, a couple of tonnes of food per month. The Gallery Art & Coffee Shop and Myrtle House (during office hours) also take donations. There is also a donation bin in Tesco in Llanelli that we empty at least once a week. At least a third of our clients are babies.

“We help in areas from Loughor to Kidwelly and from Llanelli to Pontyberem and Carway. We sometimes deal with people further up, it just depends on circumstances. Sometimes the support workers will come to us to fetch the products.

“We have 10-15 volunteers here at the food bank. We have carers and volunteers who come from Coleshill who are wonderful to work alongside, they’re pleasant and fun. We value them.”

Cllr Fozia Akhtar told us that her niece, a paramedic, saw the issue of homelessness in the area ‘all too often’
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“A homeless man was sleeping outside West Wales General Hospital recently, the police were called to remove him and he had nowhere to go. The homeless aren’t even allowed to stay outside buildings anymore,” she added.

“The Ambulance isn’t insured to take the homeless anywhere and they see a lot of this. The man was removed in a riot van, how sad is this? My niece saw this. Where are these people meant to go? This man was tucked away in a corner of a hospital and there was just no help available.”

Cllr Akhtar added that the space available at Myrtle House could only house a moderate supply of stock.
“Ideally if anyone has any larger premises or a spare unit that they’re willing to donate free to Claire to use, it would be wonderful, it’s for a good cause,” she added.

“There are always dreams of being able to do more and the option of relocating would be something to consider possibly. It’s all about helping the community and we’re passionate to help everyone. We want everyone to support Claire in Llanelli and the Carmarthenshire area.”

Cllr Sara Griffiths said: “There are more homeless people around than we actually realise. It’s also a concern for people who live in rural areas and might not get to see others. A lot of work needs to be done.

“We have a couple of projects going where we’d like to do a lot more fundraising. There is so much poverty which is being dismissed in a sense, people don’t realise how many are suffering, it’s heart-breaking to see. If there are any local businesses that are willing to donate to us as local councillors then we are on the council website, we’d genuinely appreciate it.

“We don’t want anyone to fall through the gaps, it’s not just adults who are suffering, it’s the elderly and children and babies.”

On Thursday (Nov 16) there will be a community collection throughout Llanelli and Carmarthenshire at Myrtle House from 10am-1pm and 5:30pm-8:30pm. There is also a national collection by the Trussell Trust, a national organisation that runs over 400 food banks.

There will also be a massive collection during the first week of December in Tesco Llanelli for three days, where the supermarket has offered to add 20% to every pound-worth of food donated.​

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Drink driver hospitalised and arrested

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A MAN who was hospitalised after crashing his car on the B4310, Drefach, has also been arrested for drink driving.

The crash, which happened in the early hours of Sunday morning (Feb 18), destroyed the Mercedes he was driving.

He hit a van which was parked outside of a property, which was also damaged.

Dyfed-Powys Police, Welsh Ambulance Service, and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service personnel attended the scene.

A spokesman for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were called to reports of a road traffic collision at 12.50am on Sunday morning on the B4310 in Drefach.

“We sent crews from Pontyates and Tumble at the scene and one male was cut out of a car using hydraulic cutting equipment and taken to hospital.”

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‘Connecting Carmarthenshire’ campaign takes a leap forward

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Making progress: Jonathan Edwards MP, Adam Price AM and Geraint Trello

EFFORTS to improve the availability of high speed internet and good mobile phone signal took a leap forward this week as EE sets about switching on new mobile phone masts and launches its 4G Home Broadband solution.

Representatives of EE came to Carmarthenshire this weekend to meet with Member of Parliament, Jonathan Edwards and Assembly Member, Adam Price who have led a ‘Connecting Carmarthenshire’ campaign.

Their meeting, which took place near the site of one of two new mobile phone masts near Abergorlech, focused on the upgrades and improvements the company is undertaking across rural Carmarthenshire, with a particular focus on EE’s new 4G Home Broadband solution which can provide superfast broadband via an antenna on the house – a solution EE says could help around 580,000 homes nationwide gain access to high speed connectivity.

The Plaid Cymru politicians said the new improved mobile signal was itself “a big advancement”, but said the launch of the 4G antenna was “a leap forward” for connecting rural Carmarthenshire communities.

Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards said: “It was a pleasure to welcome EE to Carmarthenshire and continue our discussions on improving connectivity in rural Wales. One new mast will be switched on in Abergorlech in a matter of weeks, with another new mast for the Llansawel region with us later in the year.

“These new masts add to the 27 4G upgrades EE has carried out to existing sites in Carmarthenshire over the last 12 months, providing better coverage for rural communities including Llanybydder, Pencader and Llanarthne, adding to the upgrades from other mobile phone giants across the county.

“Perhaps the most impressive news this week is the launch of EE’s Home Broadband solution which, with the use of a small antenna on the home, can bring superfast broadband to the house. This looks like it could be the answer for many properties which have been left behind during the fixed line upgrades, or where they can only receive slower fixed broadband speeds.

“It’s not for an elected representative to promote a particular private company, but where there appears to be a solution for so many properties to get high speed internet, I have no problem in promoting the product – particularly because when it was trialed it delivered speeds over 100Mbps! This is a giant leap forward.

“Connecting Carmarthenshire is really starting to see positive results, but I’ll keep on working to ensure everyone I represent achieves good connectivity.”

Assembly Member Adam Price said: “The new sites in the Abergorlech area are the latest in a long time of upgrades in recent months, with the added bonus of those mobile signals being used for superfast internet in the home.

“Given that various grants for broadband solutions are available from the Welsh Government, we believe those who can’t get access to fixed broadband connections or receive a glacial pace connection may well be able to receive a grant to have products like 4G Home Broadband installed at their homes.

“I’d encourage anyone who is interested in a grant to cover the costs of delivering a step change in their broadband speeds to visit the Welsh Government’s website to check eligibility, or contact Jonathan and I where we can send information to them directly.

“More and more people across our Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency are seeing the benefits of good mobile phone signal and much faster broadband. We’ve still got a little way to go, but local residents are seeing big advancements. We’re delighted the Connecting Carmarthenshire campaign is delivering tangible results for the county.”

On the launch of EE’s 4G Home Broadband solution, Max Taylor, Managing Director of Marketing, EE said: “As our network continues to expand into some of the most remote parts of the UK, we’ve seen the amazing impact that 4G connectivity can have on rural communities. Our newest 4G home broadband router and antenna takes this one step further, ensuring thousands of families in rural areas across the UK could enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband inside their home for the very first time – whether video-calling the grandparents or streaming their favourite TV series.”

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4.4 magnitude earthquake felt across Wales

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AN earthquake of 4.4 magnitude has been felt across Wales and England this afternoon (Feb 17).

There are numerous reports of the earthquake being felt across west Wales, including Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The earthquake originated near Swansea, where it is was felt strongest, at around 2:30pm.

However, the earthquake was felt across Wales, and many parts of England.

The EMSC, an independent monitor of earthquakes, said: “Latest update of the effects of the #earthquake in #Swansea region. Was felt up to 300 km from epicentre.”

Dyfed-Powys Police received many reports about the incident, but said that there was no need for concern, and that they felt it themselves in their control room.

The police force said: “We are receiving an extremely high call volume reporting some sort of earth tremor in the area – we are receiving reports from across the whole of Wales (we felt it in our control room too!). For now – it is unexplained – but there is nothing to worry about.”

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