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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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Council backs campaign against domestic abuse

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LEADING members of Carmarthenshire County Council are again backing the White Ribbon Campaign against domestic abuse.

Council Leader Emlyn Dole, Chairman Cllr Irfon Jones, Chief Executive Mark James, Director of Community Services Jake Morgan, Director of Education and Children’s Services Gareth Morgans and Communities and Safeguarding Manager Anthony Maynard have signed the campaign’s pledge not to commit or condone violence against women and girls.

Every week, two women in the UK are murdered by a current or former partner. While the number of incidents tends to be under-reported, the number of high risk cases dealt with locally continues to increase.

The council is supporting the White Ribbon Campaign which focuses on targeting violence against women by men and boys and promoting respectful relationships. It is led by men who are willing to take a stand against violence against women and girls and to be positive role models to other men in their community. White Ribbon Day is on Saturday November 25.

The sixth annual Candlelit Walk to remember women who have lost their lives as a result of male violence will be held in Carmarthen town centre on Thursday November 23. The walk assemble from 5pm at St Catherine’s Walk shopping centre by the Drover’s sculpture where candles will be distributed.

The walk will set off at 5.30pm towards the Guildhall steps, where flowers will be placed to remember women and girls who have been affected by male violence. This will be followed by speeches at St Peter’s Hall where refreshments will be available. Everyone is invited.

Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “I want to give my full backing to this campaign. We must do all we can to prevent all forms of domestic abuse and to change the perception and stigma around it.

“The council is working alongside community safety partners to tackle domestic abuse, in all its forms, against both sexes. While the majority of victims are women and girls, domestic abuse affects both sexes. The council provides and funds services which give help and support for men and women.”

Chair Cllr Irfon Jones said: “This campaign to tackle domestic abuse deserves the support of men and boys in Carmarthenshire and I would urge them to sign this pledge.”

Chief Executive Mark James said: “People must feel confident to speak out about domestic abuse secure in the knowledge that there is support available from local organisations.”

“The Council will be working with partners to seek accreditation for a White Ribbon Campaign award. This demonstrates our ongoing commitment to reduce domestic abuse, raise awareness of this crime and the support available locally for survivors.”

For support and information about local services available to both men and women, contact the free, confidential, 24 hour All Wales telephone helpline, Live Fear Free – contact 0808 80 10 800, www.livefearfree.gov.wales

Local services for both male and female survivors: Amman Valley – Calan 01269 597474/594839; Carmarthen – CDAS 01267 238410; Llanelli – Threshold 01554 752422.

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Farmer’s bonfire warning after ‘horrific’ burns

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A CARMARTHENSHIRE dairy farmer is urging other agricultural workers to take care when starting bonfires after he suffered horrific burns to his face and hands.

Rheinallt Jones accidentally used petrol on a bonfire at his farm in Llandyfaelog near Kidwelly in August 2016. He needed expert care at the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery and was so badly hurt he was unable to do manual work for three months.

He was one of 20,000 adults injured by accelerants used on barbecues, garden fires and bonfires last year – this accounted for 11% of hospital admissions for burns in the UK.

Rushing to get a bonfire started, Mr Jones picked up a tin of tractor diesel to use on the fire, not realising it had been contaminated with traces of old petrol.

Mr Jones, 49, explained: “I threw this on the bonfire and lit it, causing a fire ball that went up as quick as a flash.

“My life flashed in front of my eyes as the fire ball knocked me off my feet. It was extremely frightening.”

Mr Jones’s clothes did not ignite but the intense flash of heat was enough to cause 10% superficial flash burns to his face, arms and hands resulting in severe blistering and swelling.

He managed to get himself to a cattle water trough and splashed water on to the burns for 10 minutes before turning a hose pipe on himself for another 10 minutes.

After being taken to Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen he was transferred to the burns centre at Morriston and fortunately his burns healed without requiring surgery.

Menna Davies, clinical specialist physiotherapist at the burns centre, said Mr Jones’s quick thinking straight after the blast had helped his recovery.

She said: “Following the correct procedure by undertaking immediate and appropriate first aid can reduce the chances of scarring or in extreme circumstances save lives.”

“Fortunately the long-term scarring following effective first aid, pain relief, dressings, rehabilitation and scar management was minimal. However, due to the time taken for the skin to heal and become less fragile, he was unable to return to manual work for three months,” she added.

Now Mr Jones is hoping to alert other farmers who legally use bonfires throughout the year to clear brash and plant waste to the dangers.

He said: “I felt foolish at the time as this was an accident that could have easily been prevented.

“I could have avoided this if I had taken more time, used a wick or stick to light the bonfire and used straw, paper and firelighters as recommended by the Health and Safety Executive.”

Many people may not realise just how dangerous using an accelerant can be.

Petrol evaporates quickly when exposed to air which is why petrol and other flammable fuels and chemicals should always be stored in an airtight container in a purpose-built Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) cabinet. This will prevent the build-up of explosive gases and protect the contents from accidental exposure to sources of heat.

Because of the risks of causing serious personal injury if petrol is stored or used in an unsafe way the safe storage of petrol is covered by the Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014.

When you pour petrol on a bonfire the fuel begins to evaporate. As a rule if you can smell it, you are effectively standing in an invisible cloud of potentially flammable gas.

Once the concentration of gas in the air reaches a certain level lighting a match or introducing other sources of heat will cause an explosion, as Mr Jones discovered.

It took around 12 months for Mr Jones’s skin to become robust enough for him to return to heavy manual work.

He said: “I was unable to do any manual farm work for three months as my skin was so fragile and I’d cut myself easily by handling different equipment.

“I have had to wear factor 50 sun cream and gloves in order to perform most jobs. It has taken this long for my skin to harden up to stop using gloves.

“I have learnt from my mistakes the hard way and I would like others to take way the message to stop using accelerants on bonfires and avoid causing harm to yourself and others.”

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Cross Hands: Domino’s to open this week

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A NEW branch of Domino’s will open on the new Parc Maes Yr Eithin Retail Park, Cross Hands, on Wednesday (Nov 22) delivering a tasty menu of freshly handmade pizza and employment opportunities for the local community.

Pizza fans in Cross Hands and surrounding areas will now be able to order from Domino’s range of freshly handmade to order pizzas using the finest quality ingredients.

In addition to delivering yummy pizza, Domino’s will be serving up 25 local positions including pizza makers, customer service colleagues and delivery drivers, offering a variety of long and fruitful careers to residents of Cross Hands.

Ricky, Store Manager at Cross Hands Domino’s, said: “We’re thrilled to be opening our doors to the people of Cross Hands, and we’re celebrating the opening by offering any size pizza for £9.99 when collected!”

“There’s also plenty of employment opportunity for people living in Cross Hands, so we look forward to welcoming local pizza superstars to join our growing team. In particular we’re searching for delivery drivers, who can provide exceptional customer service, and demonstrate integrity, honesty and reliability, as well as being pepperoni passionate for freshly made pizza.”

As part of its recently launched TeamSkills programme, Domino’s offers colleagues full induction training, complete with all the tools and skills needed to become the leaders of tomorrow. Domino’s recruits on the basis of ability and, as many team members go on to management positions in under two years, this recruitment drive is a fantastic opportunity.

Domino’s in Cross Hands will be sponsoring a Christmas toy appeal in conjunction with local radio station ‘Radio Carmarthenshire’ and the store will be a collection point for donations. In addition, a special deal for the scheme will be running up until Christmas, with £1 from every redemption being donated to the toy appeal.

Domino’s believes in opportunities for all. The company is an Age Positive Employer Champion, which means that it has been recognised for its commitment to welcoming applicants of all ages.

If you are interested in a position at the store, please contact Dave on 07548649634 or email a CV to recruitment.jje@gmail.com

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